Industrial relations strategy examines how an organization treats employees and how employees relate to each other. Human resources and management share the role of providing a safe and positive working environment. They work together to plan and implement appropriate educational programs and performance management strategies to influence employee behavior and maintain the desired workplace culture.

Knowing the Issues

Strategy typically involves a combination of long-term goals for labor relations and short-term initiatives to address pressing issues. HR and management constantly must identify workplace issues that are negatively affecting employees. For example, there may be high levels of conflict between two or more groups of workers. Management must find ways to resolve conflicts before they become obstacles to accomplishing the organization's strategic objectives. Management must always protect the integrity of the workplace and minimize the effects of workplace issues on general staff morale.

Sharing Values and Beliefs

An organization succeeds in more central objectives if it can maintain a workforce of individuals who share its core values and beliefs. Therefore, the management team creates an industrial relations strategy that targets the sharing of information about workplace culture with new workers and reinforces the support of existing employees. The strategy also includes investments in employee training and development, which helps workers feel valued and encourages them to remain in the same organization rather than seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Reaching Agreements

Some organizations have unions or collective bargaining units that require management to negotiate rates of compensation, benefits and working conditions. A union's presence means management must follow established protocols in conducting IR strategy. These specific protocols aren't needed in organizations without unions. Management may invest considerable time and money in negotiating an agreement. Once completed, management and labor will spend the period of the agreement resolving any other issues that arise through informal and formal grievance processes.

Being Strategic vs. Reacting

IR strategy also involves management creating organizational structures and personnel policies and procedures that benefit both workers and the organization's strategic objectives. IR considerations may take second or third priority to other organizational considerations when managers determine business strategy and choose ideal organizational designs and internal controls. In organizations without IR strategy, the approach to solving labor issues is more ad hoc. Managers make reactionary decisions with limited information before labor issues escalate and affect productivity and morale.