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Tap Into Employees' Resources

November 1, 1997
Related Topics: Unions, Featured Article, Technology
Organizations have long acknowledged the value added by employees' knowledge and ideas. In fact, they've tried to tap these resources through suggestion systems and other channels. Only recently have a significant number of HR managers recognized that broad, systematic participation in various activities is the most effective way to tap workforce knowledge. Advocates of greater employee participation have tended to emphasize its positive effects on job satisfaction.
The Scarsdale, New York-based Work in America Institute published a report this year identifying four HR subsystems that are critical in participatory organizations:
  4. Labor-management partnerships:
  5. For effective labor-management partnerships when unions are present, employees can take part in steering committees or other strategic groups, as well as in implementing bodies at all levels.
  6. Integrating technology and social systems:

  7. Human resources pros can integrate technology and people by soliciting line employees' input in the earliest stages in such areas as productivity, designing work process and layout, vendor qualification and selection, and phase-in of work processes.
  8. Communication and information sharing:
  9. Keep communication effective by practicing it hand-in-hand with trust. The two are inseparable, especially when changes in established roles, responsibilities and relationships are creating uncertainty.

  10. Employee involvement and team-based work:

  11. Teams provide a natural way to organize and distribute to a work group the responsibility, authority and information usually given to a supervisor. Human resources managers can use teams with decision-making authority and information to respond rapidly and flexibly to changing business demands.
Workforce, November 1997, Vol. 76, No. 11, p. 16.

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