What do employees want most from their employers?
According to William L. Batt, representative for the U.S. Department of Labor, a general trend among workers for the 1990s will be the desire for job stability and security."Regularity of employment is the very heart of the issue," Batt said Monday at a conference called "Designing Organizations for the '90s" sponsored by Brigham Young University's department of organizational behavior.
That can only be accomplished through good labor-management relations, Batt said.
BYU professor Gibb Dyer said that Utah Valley's Geneva Steel is a good example of a business that is heading into the 1990s with good labor-management relations.
"The changes in Geneva Steel in the past few years came about because they had a chance to start over," Dyer said.
Carl Ramnitz, Geneva's vice president of human resources, said that is exactly what happened.
When Geneva changed ownership in 1987, the new leadership was composed of people who knew a lot about people and not necessarily people who knew a lot about making steel, Ramnitz said.
"We feel there is a difference in the productivity of the workers because of this," said Ramnitz, who worked for Geneva Steel for five years before it changed hands.
The workers are seeing the results of their work, he said. "Now they are agreeing to put money that they earn back into the company."
Batt said this is the kind of relationship that will shape the future.
The Department of Labor has many success stories but also many failures, he said. "The successes come when companies will work with us to tell the truth and help their employees."Xerox Corp. had to cut costs by about $3 million, Batt told conference attendees. Instead of laying off 160 employees, they used these people to form a committee to cut those costs.
"They cut back more than $3 million and didn't have to lay anyone off," he said.
Batt also told of another organization that had to close down and then refused to give out a list of employees' names for help in relocation efforts. There were several suicides as a result, he said.
"A direct, good relationship between the company and the employees has always proven to be advantageous in job placement," Batt said.
According to Dyer, Batt has always understood that there is a need for job stability and he has made a lifetime commitment to doing something about it.
Batt went out on a ledge in the early 1960s to get funding for a little place called Park City, Utah.
It was a mining town at the time and mining was no longer profitable in the area. Batt was able to find money to turn one of the trams that took miners up the mountain into one of the first ski lifts.