Employee Handbooks - Current Trends for Human Capital Competitiveness

By McCabe, Douglas M. | Competition Forum, July 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Employee Handbooks - Current Trends for Human Capital Competitiveness


McCabe, Douglas M., Competition Forum


INTRODUCTION

The development of sound and just employee handbooks within companies and organizations has made significant progress in recent years. Evolutionary and yeoman changes in the adoption of employee handbooks into the overall strategic and tactical corporate human capital system of firms have enhanced the opportunities for the growth of this very important human resource management process. Some problems remain unsettled, but the continued development of sophisticated employee handbooks that are equitable for both employers and employees will continue to mature. We may disagree as to whether the pace is fast enough but the direction is clear and encouraging. Simply put, this is an exciting evolving area of human capital/resources management that warrants close observation (Cook, 2008; White, 2012; Hoft, 2007; Donnelly, 2006; Lopatka, 2014).

FIELD RESEARCH - FINDINGS

This author examined numerous employee handbooks to determine the most salient trends in the arena of organizational due process for improving human capital competitiveness. He found that employees' complaints - whether they are the fault of the employees or of management personnel - are so inevitable that good business practice dictates that corporations, companies, and organizations make provision in their employee handbooks for formal procedures for resolving complaints. In all of the handbooks examined, an organizational due process system was delineated.

Why do firms have a formal organizational due process system? Is the providing of a procedure merely an incidental feature in the operation of a company, or is it the implementation of an ethical obligation which executives feel toward the employees, or do managers believe that it will lead to better human capital competitiveness, which in turn, leads to better profits and productivity. Based upon the prefaces of the employee handbooks, the answer is that they believe that an organizational due process system will lead to better profits and productivity.

An examination of these handbooks revealed three major trends in organizational due process systems: the utilization of arbitration, the use of peer review systems, and very formalized open-door policies, especially with formal appeals to toplevel management at the presidential or vive-presidential level.

To begin with, the use of arbitration in the nonunion employment relationship was not as prevalent as one would expect. Nevertheless, arbitration remains a sensible option which executives and managers should always consider. The speed with which it functions is a definite asset for both parties, and its low cost is very attractive in comparison with the expense of dragging a dispute through a time-consuming civil court suit.

But what inducement is there for a firm to allow its employees to invoke this type of organizational due process? The inducement is that arbitration is just, speedy, and relatively inexpensive. Beyond that - and most important from a human capital competitive standpoint - is that its availability should assure employees that their company is fair-minded to the degree of willingness to have their complaint settled on neutral ground. The final consideration is that an employee's complaint can be the proverbial monkey wrench in a company's otherwise smooth operations, especially if it affects the morale of other employees. Consequently, a firm should leave no stone unturned in its efforts to dispose of employees' complaints promptly with this type of organizational due process system.

Next, an examination of these handbooks revealed that peer review systems as a structured format of organizational due process was more prevalent than anticipated. An increasingly large number of companies are establishing peer review panels to resolve conflicts as a form of institutionalized organizational due process. This trend represents an effort by companies to build an open, trusting atmosphere. …

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