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Workplace partnerships boost productivity and profitability

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Hard on the heels of one very positive report by the Institute of Employment Studies on partnerships between enmployers and unions comes another from the TUC. “Partnership Works” suggests that when bosses and employees co-operate there are benefits across productivity, profitability, staff turnover and sickness absence.

As well as highlighting the potential contribution of unions in general, the report showcases the work of the TUC Partnership Institute. Forty-six companies are currently using the Institute’s consultancy service to promote joined-up working, and they form a varied client base across manufacturing, utilities and finance companies, NHS hospitals, local government agencies, NGOs and government departments.

John Monks, TUC General Secretary, said: “Effective workplace partnership is a relationship based on trust, and that can only be delivered through strong, independent unions representing the workforce. Our members want to feel a sense of personal achievement at work. They also want to be proud of the company they work for, and in return to be treated with respect. Successful businesses know this by seeking partnership agreements.”

In November the Industrial Society produced a report, “Managing Partnerships”, which suggested that in spite of a positive attitude towards partnership in theory, few companies pursued partnership policies in practice, and those that did often restricted employee involvement to only a few areas of decision-making.

“Partnership works” summary:

Partnership workplaces are one-third more likely to have financial performance that is a lot better than average; and are a quarter more likely to have labour productivity that is a lot better than average. Partnership between workers, their unions and employers leads to lower labour turnover and absenteeism, and higher sales and profits.

An international call-centre study based on interviews with staff and managers, found that a partnership relationship with the union had a considerable beneficial impact on job design, control, training and career development.

The TUC has six key principles that make up a meaningful partnership agreement:
First, a joint commitment to success of the enterprise.
Second, unions and employers recognising each other’s legitimate interests and resolving difference in an atmosphere of trust.
Third, a commitment to employment security.
Fourth, a focus on the quality of working life.
Fifth, transparency and sharing information.
Sixth, mutual gains for unions and employers, delivering concrete improvements to business performance, terms and conditions, and employee involvement.

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