Employment relations refers to the link between employees and employers that underpins the supply of labour services in return for renumeration

Employment relations refers to the link between employees and employers that underpins the supply of labour services in return for renumeration. Colling & Terry, 2010 state that indeterminacy within employment relations comes from the fact that the contract of labour between an employer and employee involves an exchange for money for a “potential level of performance”. This is referring to many external variables involves in the process of an employer turning the bought service of labour into a positive element within the organisation.
This theory refers to the differences between labour and labour power initially set out by Marx Capital Theory (date). This theory demonstrates the differences in the ability of an employer to purchase the physical act of work, labour, which differs from labour power that quantifies the capacity in which an employee or group of employees can work. This theory looks to distinguish what the foundations of the employer/employee relationship are.
Unitarism refers to the harmonious working relationship between the employer and employee (Fox, 1966). The theory that underpins this theory is the concept of both employer and employees all working together with shared purpose and focus. To be successful, this theory presumes that there is effective teamwork and communication within the organisation and there is also one source of authority that sets direction and the shared goal, this is management. For a unitarist approach to prove successful, there are two assumptions that are required to allow for success. These are the resolution of conflict and the perception of trade unions.
Conflict within a unitarist organisation is generally perceived by the employees and organisation as a negative thing. It is presumed to happen if there is a breakdown in communication or if there is a “trouble causer” amongst the teams. It is suggested that any conflict that should occur in this means should be dismissed through coercive means as everybody is working towards a shared goal (Rose, 2004). From a unitary perspective, trade unions are usually regarded as unnecessary as both the employer and employees are working towards the same goal, all employee relations are managed within the organisation, with no external support required. As conflict and disruption are seen as a negative trait to the effectiveness of an organisation, trade unions are often perceived from a unitarist perspective as conflicting and contradicting the managerial direction that the full organisation is working towards.
Pluralism refers to the segmentation of the organisation into lots of different groups with varying interests and agendas. Unifying these groups is a central group who try and focus all groups together to meet a common goal. Unlike unitarist approaches, pluralism accepts that there may be conflict between different groups based on what they perceive as being of interest to them, it therefore allows for planning for the central group to account for these differences when focusing the groups towards the common goal.
Within a pluralist approach to employee relations, conflict can be explained because of conflicting interests of each groups can lead to friction. It also helps to explain conflict within large matrixed organisations as people in one subsection of a company could be very disgruntled for a reason that is unknown or not a priority to those at board level. The pluralist approach recognises the differences in loyalty and authority within each sub-section of an organisation and accepts the role of trade unions as a conflict resolution method and a representative to influence management decisions.
Both theories highlight different implications for employee relations. Within a unitarist organisation, as it is presumed that there are no conflicting interests and that they are 100% aligned with the objectives of the employer and employee. The role of management is one of strategy and setting direction. Whereas this does seem an advantage, there are some that perceive a working environment with no challenging behaviour and an environment of agreement could be potentially damaging for an organisation (reference). Within a pluralistic the role of management is somewhat different. Management will be more of a persuasive role rather than a controlling position. This is done as the managers are attempting to coherse each group into a specific train of work. (ref)
There has been a lot of research into determining reasons as to what can cause an employer relationship to break down. Shephard et al (2011) suggests that disengagement can be caused by issues with pay or lack of recognition, poor management, lack of tools and teamwork, no growth opportunities and poor communication. Similarly, Anthina (2004) and Wildermuth & Pauken (2008) identified individual factors, working environment, job role, team and co-worker relationships and leadership as the main factors contributing to healthy work relations. Further research suggests the employment relationship could become damaged when an employer breaks the psychological contract that is in place within the company (Morrison & Robinson, 1997). From research findings it would be easy to look at the impacts of the external environments effect on environment is to group them using the PESTLE analysis technique.