Who has more power – the employee or the employer?

Who has more power – the employee or the employer?

Every business has different power dynamics between the employers and the employees, which are dependent on the kind of culture existing in the organisation. What this does is affect the kind of management styles used by employers in the workplace.

For successful team management, employers must use a blend of organisational and communication skills which will instil confidence and drive their employees to better productivity which will benefit the company as a whole. Even so, traditionally employers will have the upperhand with more authority and control in order to drive work.

A traditional management style is one that is autocratic, where a manager makes decisions alone. This is because employees, by the very definition of the word, are employed by businesses and do not operate as independent contractors. Therefore, power would normally lie in the employers. Although this results in a well-managed group, when enforced unilaterally, employees may be left feeling unhappy and feel a lack of ownership in their work. This management style negates the philosophy where employees are the greatest assets of the organisation if the employment relationship is more one-sided.

However in the present situation, the pandemic has drastically evolved the way businesses operate, with employment trends seeing a shift. The pandemic has forced businesses and its leaders to lead with more empathy and seriously consider the mental health effects of the pandemic on employees who have to work through the pandemic. What this has done is inadvertently changing management styles to ensure that morale is maintained and productivity continues for the success of the business. In doing so, the workplace power dynamics have shifted as business leaders have to balance the expectations of their employees with the changing profile of leadership that comes along with it.

Business leaders are now having to move to a more open type of leadership, and employ consultative management styles where feedback from employees are important and decisions must be made with both the employees and the company in mind. As such, the power dynamics are becoming more balanced. Employees will in turn expect decisive leadership to maintain business and work continuity, with the employees’ welfare being taken into account. Communication will become paramount, with future plans expected from employers in a timely manner which will necessitate a two-way communication between business leaders and workers. Furthermore, business leaders will have to be more engaging to ensure that the gaps of working remotely or in hybrid arrangements are closed which will in turn boost productivity and benefit organisations in the long run.

The future of work is now here, as the pandemic has affected employment trends, and as the younger generation enters the work force, traditional management styles have to be reflected upon and evolve to include a more human experience in the workplace. This means employers have to talk to their employees about their needs, having curiosity about their employees’ career trajectory and their engagement at work, and understanding the dynamics of the team.





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