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Employee Participation

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One of the most common definitions of the term participation refers to it as the intervention of employees in a large part of the organizational processes of decision making. There are times when it's limited to those processes in which employees decide on the tasks they carry out or the decisions that affect them individually. And there are other works that raise it as the influence of employees (associates and through representatives) in the decision processes on employment conditions that affect them, usually through collective bargaining processes.

This last interpretation is developed in parallel to the term Industrial Democracy, popularized in the late seventies from the significant influence of trade unions in the decision-making processes of the main industries (although it was born in the 40s in former West Germany). Industrial democracy refers to the participation of employees, or their representatives, in the decision processes that were previously reserved only for management.

The other interpretation of the term participation serves as the basis for another closely related term that is empowerment . This would include the intervention processes of the employees in the decisions about design and performance of the task itself and an organizational culture support that favors this desire to provide solutions to improve the performance of the tasks that are known.

The development of the concept of employee participation in recent years opts more for the line of empowerment than for industrial democracy.

Requirements and objectives of participation

For the proper development of models based on participation and empowerment, 3 individual prerequisites are established:

- Employee's ability to engage in participatory activities.
- Motivation to act autonomously.
- Ability to perceive the positive effect of participation in one's own well-being and interest.

Therefore, at the organizational level we will have other requirements, such as:

- Creation of an organizational culture that supports these individual values and capacities.
- Organizational design that favors participatory decision-making processes and the implementation of efficient proposals.

For the organization, the objectives of participation are:

- Create commitment of all employees to the success of the organization.
- That the organization better meet its needs and adapt better to the changes required by the environment, thanks to the contributions of the greatest possible number of points of view and observation.
- Help improve the efficiency and productivity of the organization.
- Improve employee satisfaction.
- Allow employees to influence matters that interest them and that affect the day-to-day work. Participation Programs

Five possible forms of employee participation in the organization:

- The descending communication. Modality of a lesser degree of involvement with the culture of participation, since it's limited to the manager informing employees of the decisions taken and trying to sell them the idea so that they accept and get involved with it.
- The ascending problem solving. Whose objective will be to obtain ideas from employees that help solve organizational problems. Suggestion programs, quality circles, improvement committees, ... are mechanisms of this form of participation.
- Participatory work. Including the redesign of tasks with the participation of employees, teamwork, ...
- The participation of employees or their representatives in the management committees of the organization. Intervening in strategic decisions and increasing the degree of commitment of both parties in the joint project.
- Financial participation. Whose major degree occurs in the companies of the Social Economy, where the participation in the capital of the organization (cooperatives, ...) gives a greater degree of authority to the employees who participate fully in the governing bodies to the fullest level.


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