0Purpose and Perspective
This chapter focuses on the delicate balance of power, responsibility, and accountability that
resides in the relationships a company develops with employees. First, we explore the many
issues related to the social responsibilities employers have to their employees, including the
employee-employer contract, workforce reduction, wages and benefits, labor unions, health and
safety, equal opportunity, sexual harassment, whistle-blowing, diversity, and work/life balance.
In these sections, we discuss a number of significant laws that affect companies’ human resources
programs. Finally, we look at the concept of employer of choice and what it takes to earn that
There are many issues that may seem subtle and, at times, unimportant but are related to the
responsibilities that employees, government, and other stakeholders expect of employing
Responsibilities to Employees0
There has been a dramatic shift in the contract that exists between
employee and employer.
is largely unwritten and includes the beliefs,
perceptions, expectations, and obligations that comprise an agreement
between individuals and the organizations that employ them.0
(1)0 When promises and expectations are not met, a psychological
contract breach occurs and employees may become less loyal,
inattentive to work, or otherwise dissatisfied with the employment
(2)0 When employers present information in a credible, competent, and
trustworthy manner, employees are more likely to be supportive of
and committed to the organization.
The relationship between employer and employee has evolved greatly since
the late 1800s.0
(1)0 Until the early 1900s, the relationship between employer and
employee was best characterized as a master-servant relationship.
(2)0 In the 1920s and 1930s, employees assumed a relationship with
employers that was more balanced in terms of power, responsibilities,
(3)0 The 1950s brought criticism of white-collar work as being draining
on employees’ time, energy, and personalities.
(4)0 Organizational researchers and managers in the 1960s began to
question authoritarian behavior and consider participatory
management styles that assumed employees were motivated and
eager to assume responsibility for work.
(5)0 A study done in the 1970s confirmed that employees wanted
interesting work and a chance to demonstrate their skills through
increased participation, freedom, and democracy at work.