Employment: is it about managing relationships or getting the work done?

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) provides information on industrial relations, rights and obligations under Irish employment and equality legislation. Its masthead clearly explains the purpose of the the State’s Industrial Relations agency and how it views employment – it’s all about managing relationships.

If you’re an employer – particularly an Irish entrepreneur – you didn’t start your business to add another complex relationship to your life with every person you took on: your goal was to produce your product or supply your service and make a little profit at the same time. Employees, when it came time to hire them, were there to take on part of the work and, of course, get paid the reasonable value of their contribution (pro-rata to the value of the profit or service). However, under the weight of current EU and Irish employment legislation, regulations and court or tribunal determinations, many employers feel that managing the ‘rights and obligations’ of employees has become the new purpose of the business.

Managing relationships is hard work and most of us feel we make a hames of it at every opportunity. This being the case, how in the world are we to get through a day of work if it means trying to manage two more (or even hundreds more) relationships and still run the business. You probably know, it’s not possible – at least on your own.

There are, however, a few things you can do to keep things somewhat manageable:

  1. Keep relationships at the proper distance and in the proper order. How many of you ‘discipline’ your friends? Quality, safety, efficiency – all pillars of good business – require setting and enforcing standards. The closer we get to people the harder it becomes to correct them. This means employers must keep relationships at a level where they can discipline staff.
  2. Don’t be personally responsible for too many relationships at one time. Managing relationships takes time and none of us ever have enough of it to manage the relationships we are already in. When it comes to work relationship no one should be directly responsible for too many people – generally 10 is the maximum. This means delegating relationships to managers, supervisors and chargehands with each being responsible for a few.
  3. Address problems when they arise (as in immediately) rather than letting frustrations build up. This one should be self-explanatory but is seldom adhered to because either relationships are too close or we don’t have enough time because we are trying to manage too many at once.
  4. Keep good advisors close to hand. When relationships start to fracture our usually reaction is disappointment, hurt or anger. We all need people around us who can help us put things into proper perspective and who can help us avoid taking rash actions, particularly where there is a raft of laws involved).

At Martin Insurance Brokers, we have over 38 years’ experience in helping our clients understand and control workplace risks through appropriate Employers’ Liability and Employment Practices Liability insurance solutions. We work with more than 20 leading liability insurance underwriters based throughout Ireland and the UK (including Lloyds) to ensure that our clients access the best cover and most competitive prices available.

You are at risk of an employment claim from the moment you interview a prospective employee. While Employers’ Liability insurance pays compensation and legal costs if an employee claims for a work-related illness or injury, Employment Practices Liability insurance cover is available to cover the potentially crippling court awards & associated legal expenses of an employment claim arising out of actual or alleged (wrongful or unfair) employment-related issues such as:

  • discipline
  • dismissal
  • discharge or termination of employment
  • breach of an oral or written contract
  • misrepresentation
  • discrimination
  • harassment
  • failure to employ or promote
  • deprivation of a career opportunity
  • infliction of emotional distress, etc.

The cost of cover for SMEs employing up to 10 workers is typically between €1,000, rising to €3,000 for those employing up to 50 workers. If you would like to speak about insurance options for your employees, call us today 049 433 2944 or complete our online enquiry form.

Disclaimer: The material contained is this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.