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Efficiency, Equity & Voice in the Workplace: Definition, Role & Balance

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  • 0:00 Efficiency, Equity, & Voice
  • 1:13 Efficiency in Labor Relations
  • 2:01 Equity in Labor Relations
  • 3:06 Voice in Labor Relations
  • 4:04 Balancing All Three Things
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Martin Gibbs

Martin has 16 years experience in Human Resources Information Systems and has a PhD in Information Technology Management. He is an adjunct professor of computer science and computer programming.

When it comes to labor relations, there are three key concepts that support and balance each other: efficiency, equity, and voice. This lesson will define each component and its role in the workplace, as well as the balance needed among the three.

Efficiency, Equity, & Voice

Like most businesses, Really Big Corporation, Inc. wants to increase its profit margins and squeeze the most out of its employees. At the same time, its employees want a supportive workplace and a say in matters important to their work.

How can Really Big Corporation achieve a balance that brings them the most profit, but the least negative impact on their employees? In the field of labor relations, there are three key concepts that can help us guide Really Big Corporation; these are efficiency, equity, and voice.

Efficiency refers to the productive use of limited resources. Equity guarantees employees earn a fair wage for their work, be in a non-discriminatory environment, and have fair labor standards. And finally, employees also expect to have a voice, or input and influence, in the affairs of their work.

Efficiency, equity, and voice are each important factors in the workplace. In fact, you can think of them as the legs on a three-legged stool: If you take one of the legs away, the whole thing falls down. On a positive note, each of the three legs supports the other and the structure as a whole.

Let's take a closer look at efficiency, equity, and voice.

Efficiency in Labor Relations

In labor relations, efficiency is mainly the focus of management. Efficiency means that you're getting the most out of limited resources.

Really Big Corporation discovers new software for monitoring joints in construction beams. This helps to ensure that weak beams can be found right away and fixed immediately instead of further down the process. In turn, this also frees up employees to focus their energy on other areas. Still, Really Big Corporation needs to invest human resources and money toward this process. The goal is efficiency.

Even though this new software increases efficiency, what if it requires some employees to work different schedules or longer hours? For example, it might force the company to place employees on call in case the software breaks. In this situation, efficiency is being attained at the expense of equity.

Equity in Labor Relations

Equity is about fair treatment and fair compensation. Government regulations and labor laws ensure management provides certain equitable working conditions. However, in order to help create both a more efficient process for management, focus on equity should be a focus of management.

In addition to labor laws, there's also room for employers to be fair and consistent in workplace decisions. If employees aren't given this respect, their loyalty will fade, weakening the efficiency leg of the stool.

When Really Big Corporation installed the new software, it actually required more employee hours than other processes. Is it equitable, or fair, to require extra hours of certain employees? Would it be equitable to pay them overtime for the hours? In an effort to maintain equity, Really Big Corporation notifies its employees of changes to working hours, the need for on-call status, and offers fair overtime pay for extra work or on-call work.

Now we have two thirds of our legs. Equity breeds efficiency, and good efficiency is gained from an equitable workplace. But what do employees have to say? Do they have a voice?

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