Contemporary HRM & Employment Relations: A Comparative Analysis Of UK And Germany

Concept of human resource management and employment relations

Human relationship management is one of the most important aspects that need to be undertaken by every organisation. According to Cascio (2018), maintaining a proper relationship with the employees is necessary so that the loyalty and productivity of the organisations are maintained. The assignment focuses on the narrative that focuses on the human relationship management and the employment relations that need to be maintained in organisations. The focus is on two countries and comparison is made between both countries to identify the aspects that deal with the contemporary issues related to human resource management. For the purpose of the assignment, two countries have been taken into consideration. The countries in focus include UK and Germany, two of the most developed countries in the modern world. The issue in focus is the productivity of the organisations functioning in these two countries and the development that have led to the occurrence of the issue. The lack of productivity in either of the countries is the focus of the research. The approaches adopted by both the countries so that the issue can be resolved.

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Albrecht et al. (2015) stated that employment relations refer to the study that covers up all the aspects related to the people at work. The aspects that consist of the job regulation include motivating the employees, managing the safety and health of the employees as well as maintaining the loyalty of the employees. The relationship between the employees and the employers are scrutinized in this process and based on the relationship the productivity and success of an organisation is determined. The interaction between the employees and the employers signify the extent to which the powers and interests of both the parties can help an oragnisation to continue its productivity.

At the same time, employment relationship is also concerned with the manner in which the representative bodies such as the trade union perceive the relationship between employer and employee (Reiche et al., 2016). Productivity can be hampered due to the ineffective relationship between the employees and the employers. Hence, it is for this reason that every organisation focuses on building good relationship with the employees so that the productivity may increase. At the same time, it is also necessary that every employee respond to the employers in a clear manner so that no misunderstanding takes place. Other problem that may lead to the loss of productivity is the fact that lack of availability of finance and materials. This may hamper the productivity, as without these resources, it can be difficult for the organisations to continue with the development and expansion of resources. 

According to Brewster et al. (2016), human resource management focuses on the level that the organisations achieve so that it can comply itself with the basic issues that are related to the human resource management. The issues that are normally in focus include recruitment, selection, payment, productivity, employee performance and development of human resources. The lack of productivity may play a major role in the development of an organisation. Bratton and Gold (2017) stated that the lack of productivity can be due to the lack of motivation of the employees among other things that exist in a human resource management. The unavailability of finances and resources also account for the lack of productivity in an organisation.

Media report narrative

Rationale for selecting the two countries

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Germany is characterised by a highly competitive, coordinated and regulated market economy. The traditional aspect of Germany is that it has a well-organised union and association of employers that help in regulating the working conditions. As stated by Marchington et al. (2016) one of the key attributes that are encouraged by Germany is the industry wide collective bargaining of the employees. Every organisation in the country believes that the employees need to be concerned during the decision-making activity. This provides an opportunity for the proper interaction with the employees and due to this it can said that the German organisations provide more value to the thought process of the people.

An example can be provided that highlights the manner in which productivity an employment relations are considered as important in the country. As reported by Brewster, Chung and Sparrow (2016) in a company like Aldi the focus is to ensure that the customer satisfaction is maintained. However, with the excess demand of goods and the increased popularity of the organisations, the demand for products as well as services provided became the utmost priority factor for the company. Thereby, the managers of the company kept up with the tradition of ensuring high productivity of the organisation by adding value to the contributions made by the employees. This led to an increase in the wages received by the employees and development of skills that help them to remain productive and render good quality service.

The reason behind the switch in the satisfaction of the employees is that without proper employee strength it can be difficult for Aldi to continue with maintaining the loyalty of the customers. As stated by Stokes, Bryson and Bewley (2017) a stable political system helps the managers of the German organisations to ensure that open trade practises are maintained with different countries. At the same time, it also denotes the fact that interference in the affairs of the organisations is not conducted and the involvement of any representative body is not included in the decision-making activity of Aldi. One of the chief characteristics of the country is that despite having a federal system, the employment relationship policy is stable across the country and employees working in different parts of the same organisations do not have to worry about any interference or mistreatment of the occupational stature.

Reports from Kim and Bae (2017) suggest that three federations at the peak of its success govern the organisations in Germany. These federations include German Trade Union Federation (DGB), Confederation of Christian Unions (CGB) and German Civil Association (DBB). These federations are mainly responsible for the political activities that are governed in the country and each of the federations are organised in the private as well as the public organisations of the country. According to Jorgenson, Gollop and Fraumeni (2016), every federation focuses on different types of industries and focus on the growth of the organisations. For example, the German Civil Association focuses of the growth of the civil servants and ensure that the relationship between the civil servants and the employers remain intact.

Having analysed the employment relations in Germany, the focus can now be shifted towards a country that is different from Germany in terms of work culture and managing employment relations. The focus is on England one of the most developed and richest countries in the world. As stated by Oswald, Proto and Sgroi (2015) one of the characteristics of England is that the number of organisations present in the country enriches the economy with the type of productivity level that is expected from the employees. For example, existence of organisations like Tesco, Bank of Britain, Hamleys and so on provide the economy of the country with the necessary lift for its stability. At the same time, the existence of reputed universities such as Harvard Business School, University of Oxford and others enrich the economy with revenue from outside the country (Bratton & Gold, 2017).

Godard (2014) reported that the relationship with the EU has helped Britain to incur growth in the foreign direct investment and employment practise such as increase in the productivity. In a company like Tesco, the productivity depends upon the contributions of the low wage earners. Britain is noted for encouraging migrants and providing them with an opportunity to improve the level of life standard by being employed in the organisations (Brewster, Chung & Sparrow, 2016). This has helped the company to reduce the unemployment rate to 7% and the voluntarist title provided to the countries has been slowly eradicated. As observed by Guest (2016) unionism in the UK is perhaps the oldest form of trading as the country is characterised by developing the initial union movement.

One of the significant observations that can be made in the analysis of both the countries is that prior to the Second World War, the unionism and employment relations in the UK have fluctuated considerably. In fact as observed McDonald and Thompson (2016) by after every major war, the economy of UK have fluctuated and consequently increases in the relationship between the employers and employees have developed. However, in the case of Germany the country was termed to have an eco miracle after the end of the Second World War. This is because with the reign of an important ruler, the country witnessed a surge the economy by a great deal that remain inflected even after the Second World War (Greene & Kirton, 2015).

Therefore, it can be said that the current issue related to the human resource management or employment relations can add significance to both countries as without proper productivity, it can be difficult to maintain the economic activity. As stated by Williams, Abbott and Heery (2017) the manner in which every organisation in Germany and UK focus on increasing the profitability suggests that the employment relations are build based on increasing the productivity of the organisations. It can be considered as an important aspect solely because the economy of the countries can increase in a manner that may help in the effective maintenance of trade unions and Government policies. It has been seen that the productivity in the UK is always more by 0.50% than in Germany. This provides an opportunity for the UK people to expand its horizons in the international market.

Gattorna (2015) is of the opinion that the emphasis on production has led many organisations to develop its reputation in the business. Therefore, the development of the issues relating to production can be analysed by keeping in mind the legal and regulatory framework that exists in both countries of Germany and UK. Therefore, it can be said that the development of issues in the production can be in line with the policies that are involved in the development of the trade union practises and the manner in which the employment relations exist in both countries. Some of the issues related to the development of production problems in an organisation that can be common in both countries include:

Compliance with regulation and the traceability of the products: It has been seen that most of the organisations faces legal constraints while selling its products or providing services. In a country like Germany, the interference of the Government is not one of the factors that affect the working of the organisations. Therefore, it needs to be kept in mind that the compliance of the regulatory framework can affect the production process in organisations. For example, in a company like Lidl, the regulatory stature imposed by the Government may have a significant benefit for the customers. However, it needs to be kept in mind that a visibility of the supply chain management can be brought about within the organisations that provides for the increase in the productivity (Dalton, 2017).

Figure 1: Productivity graph of Germany

(Source: Goleman, 2017)

On the other hand, in a country like UK, the Government is more concerned about the economy of the country and the manner in which products and services of companies can be developed. Therefore, the interference from the Government of UK provides the products with a competitive regulation that needs to be followed (Abbott, 2016). In this regard, it can be said that sometimes the Government regulation is seen more in the case of Universities as the type of education that is provided in the Universities need to abide by the Educational laws set out by the state. Therefore, the education provided can be considered as a product that needs to be developed by the Universities.

Maintaining the relevancy of the products: This particular issue relating to products can be attributed more towards the satisfaction of the customers. Customer satisfaction is one of the most important factors that need to be maintained for the success of an organisation. In Germany, the production of the goods is attributed to the relations that are maintained by the employer with the employees that in turn reflect on the behaviours made by the employees to the customers. In this case, it can be said that the relevancy of the products need to be accounted to the culture of the organisations (Brewster, Mayrhofer & Morley, 2016). Therefore, it can be said that employees need to comply with the culture of the organisations so that it can manufacture products that are relevant with the reputation that precedes it.

Figure 2: Productivity comparsion of UK

(Source: Goleman, 2017)

At the same time, the interference of the trade unions in the companies of UK suggests that the relevancy of the products is directed more towards the vocal of the unions. The unions ensure that the manufacturing of the products are within the competency of the employees and the manner in which the managers develop the relationship with the employees is solely based on the competency and the skills of the employees. According to Storey (2014), in UK, the unionism has declined relatively mainly due to the shift in focus of building the economy of the country. Therefore, with less strikes in the organisations the focus on productivity can be maintained in a manner that highlights the growth of the organisations.

Aging workforce: The employee and employment relationships depend upon the level of capability that is provided. In the case of the companies in Germany such as Aldi or Lidl, the aging workforce becomes one of the main problems for maintaining the proper quality of work. As stated by Purce (2014) the aging workforce in the organisations is considered as a threat as the productivity decrease relatively. In Germany, the trade unions do not have much of an effect on the ageing employees, as the focus is more on satisfying the youth so that the demands made by the young employees can be met.

On the other hand, a different scenario is seen in the case of UK. The Government in the country takes care of the employees irrespective of the old or new. This is because the Government maintains equality and the every employee are provided with an opportunity to remain loyal to the organisation and participate in its success. The trade unions of the country provide proper care of the aging employees so that the productivity of the organisations can take place. In a company like Tesco, the company allows the aged employees to act as trainers to the young employees so that they can be of use to the success of the organisation.

Therefore, it can be said that the employment relations in the companies in UK and Germany can provide the employees with an opportunity to remain competitive in the organisations. In companies like Aldi or Tesco, two companies that manufacture and sale similar products the difference can be seen with relevance to the manner in which the employees are treated. Knies et al. (2015) stated that the production issues of the companies provide an analysis of the legal and regulatory framework of both the countries and the manner in which these regulatory frameworks can help companies to remain competitive and maintain proper employment relations.

In the current scenario, both UK and Germany adopt different approaches that can help the organisations to continue with the current path of employee relations that exist within the industry (Jackson, Schuler & Jiang, 2014). It is for this reason it is important to analyse the production process and the manner in which any similarity or divergent may affect the organisational culture of employee relations in the countries.

According to Wilton (2016), the production process consists of three main stages that are essential for the proper manufacturing of products. These stages include pre-production, production and post-production. Each of the production processes that takes place in organisations comprise of these stages so that it can be easy for organisations to maintain proper quality of products. In the case of organisations in UK and Germany, these stages involve understanding the relations that exist between the employee and employer after each stage of the process. Nel et al. (2016) have inferred that most of the times it is seen that the relation between the employee and the employers tend to decline once the production moves towards the end stags. This is mainly the case of the contractual workers that are employed on a part-time basis in an organisation.

Such contractual workers are rare in reputed companies in UK and Germany. However, in the small-scale organisations, the law related to the employment of contractual workers does not abide and it becomes difficult for trade unions to enter into negotiation deal that may benefit the organisations as well as the employees (Edwards & Tofan, 2016). This can be considered as a similar aspect that lies between the two countries and the manner in which the union of both the countries try to maintain the employee relations that need to exist within organisations. At the same time, the legal laws binding labour contracts need to be analysed properly so that the organisations can ensure safety and longevity of the employees.

At the same time, difference also exists in the production process as well as in the manner in which the employee relations exist in UK and German. As seen from the above discussion, unionism despite being born in the UK has been on the decline in the recent years (Goleman, 2017). Nevertheless, in Germany, the unionism exists and employees often call for strikes if there is any hindrance in the production process or dispute over payment. However, as stated by Bolman and Deal (2017) it needs to be kept in mind by the unions that the profit earned from the production is required to be distributed among the people so that they can earn considerable payment for the effort.

Hence, it can be said that other stages of the production process need to be considered so that employees can understand the effectiveness of the process. The other stages include financing, screenplay and distribution that are required for the successful implementation of the production process. Therefore, it can be said that in a country like UK the production process can be directly linked with maintaining the satisfaction of the employees (Goleman, 2017). The employee relations that exist within organisations vary from one organisation and it is seen that in reputed organisations such variance cause the trade unions to take actions for the proper implementation of the employee relations. At the same time, the process related to human resource management can also be implemented in order to analyse the effectiveness of the production process.

The process of human resource management includes understanding the analysis of the reactions of the employees by assessing the satisfaction level. This includes understanding the leadership that exists within the teams and the manner in which every team get to satisfy its employees. It has been evidenced that Germany and UK have different levels of maintaining employee relations and consequently the human resource management process may vary. This may be attributed to the collective manner of approaching a job in Germany as compared to an individualist approach to job in UK. Therefore, the relations between the two countries and the approaches adopted can be identified.  

One of the important aspects that need to be considered is the fact that people are human beings and error may occur from any human being. Thereby, failure in production process can be mitigate by identifying the root cause of the failure and the manner in which people can ensure that such failures are not repeated again. Therefore, as stated by Atkinson and Storey (2016) the employee relations also play an important role in mitigating the root causes that are involved in the errors in the production process.

The analysis shows that the involvement of the Government of both the countries is different from one another. While the Government and the trade unions of Germany are reluctant in being involved in the matters of the organisations, the opposite can be seen in the case of the organisations in the UK. Therefore, the level of motivation and leadership provided by the organisations of both the countries are different from one another. Hence, it can be said that the adoption of leadership approaches in the form of leadership styles can be the initial step towards finding a mitigation cause of the errors. As such, an example can be considered that provides an overview of the employee relations.

According to Taylor, Rees and Damm (2016), one of the most popular examples that can be provided is the employee relations management in Xerox. The work culture of Xerox was reported as envious due to the positive attitude it had brought among the people. However, with the popularity of the company and its expansion in the international market, the work culture took its toll and adopted the organisational cultures followed in the respective countries. For example, in the UK, the company had adopted a more individualist approach as opposed to a collectivism approach in Germany. This proved as a costly affair for Xerox mainly during the outsourcing of people from one place to another.

In the light of this statement, it can be said that the work culture of both the countries can be analysed. This can be done using Hofstede’s model so that the difference between both the countries can be identified. The analysis shows that both countries have almost similar work cultures that are different only in certain aspects. For example, the German people tend to avoid uncertainty more than the UK people do. This can be considered as a reason behind the reluctance of involvement of the Government. The Hofstede’s model also shows that the long-term orientation in Germany is higher than in the UK. This implies that the dominance of truth and situation is more in Germany than UK.

Therefore, it can be said that the management of people in Germany requires more leadership skills than that of the UK. The employee relation in Germany is based more on the uncertainty avoidance, which implies that people are more inclined to follow the laws and regulations. Therefore, the employee relations that exist in the country are more directed at understanding the needs and dominance of the people. At the same time, it can be said that the reluctance of the Government points to the fact that the people in the country are free from undertaking any type of trade activity with foreign markets (Bonoli, 2017). This also implies that the employee employer relation is strong in the organisations of Germany.

At the same time, the comparison with the UK suggests that the reason for the interference of the Government is that the economy is competitive. This can be linked as a similarity context with Germany as the economy in Germany is also competitive. However, in UK, the restriction of the Government provides for serious interference of the trade union. Despite the decline in unionism, UK continues to involve the Government and other related bodies to ascertain that organisations and employees remain in harmony with one another (Greene & Kirton, 2015).


Therefore, it can be concluded that the analysis of the culture and employee relations that exist in UK and Germany provides a proper analysis of the differences that exist in the countries. The key findings of the research includes the reasons for the lack of production such as lack of talented labours and lack of finances. Employee relations are important for maintaining proper human resource management and production is one of the main features that drive an organisation to success. Therefore, it is important for employees and employers to remain with harmony with one another and ensure that legal and relevant legislations are involved in the functioning of the organisations. Hence, the changes in the functioning of the Government bodies can provide help in maintaining proper unionism in the countries. The implication of the research is that it can help Germany and UK to identify the reasons that exists in the organisations that are responsible for the loss of productivity.

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