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AN EXAMINATION OF THE PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF EMPLOYEES RELATIONS IN SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISE IN BUEA, CAMEROON

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AN EXAMINATION OF THE PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF EMPLOYEES RELATIONS IN SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISE IN BUEA, CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Every organization, whether driven by charitable or commercial motives, requires a clear goal, whether it's manufacturing products or providing services. While organizations need various production variables to generate goods and services, human resources stand out as the most crucial factor. Proper handling of this resource is paramount for achieving the desired aims of a company (Dessler, 2018). In the Cameroonian modern business landscape, SMEs recognize the importance of fostering a healthy work environment among employees for long-term success. Employee relations, includes dynamics, interactions, and overall atmosphere within an organization, significantly impact organizational culture, productivity, and ultimately the bottom line. Additionally, it refers to the interaction between employees and employers, encompassing both formal and informal aspects of management. This includes areas such as labor relations, employee involvement, participation, communication, and industrial relations (Armstrong, 2018). Muhammad (2018) emphasizes that employee relations involve a range of organizational practices addressing individual issues, highlighting their critical role in organizational evolution and performance. Indeed, the quality of employee relations profoundly influences SMEs ability to achieve its goals and meet its requirements.The abbreviation SME refers to small and medium-sized enterprise. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are autonomous, non-subsidiary organizations with fewer than a specific number of employees.  Furthermore, employee relations in SMEs are influenced by a variety of circumstances, which in turn affects organizational effectiveness. Organizational communication is essential among these elements. Good channels of communication encourage trust and cooperation between staff and management by promoting openness, understanding, and clarity (Argyris, 2019). On the other hand, poor communication techniques damage employee relations and organizational cohesiveness by causing miscommunications, disputes, and a decline in morale. Additionally, demeanor and style of leadership play a crucial role in determining employee relations. Leadership directly affects employee engagement, motivation, and satisfaction and sets the tone for the workplace culture (Bass & Riggio, 2018). Positive relationships and a sense of belonging within the organization are often fostered by supportive and empathic leaders who place a high priority on the well-being and development of their employees. Conversely, disengaged or autocratic leadership negatively impacts employee relations by creating a toxic work environment, resentment, and disengagement. Furthermore, organizational policies and practices significantly shape employee relations. Fair and equitable policies related to compensation, performance evaluation, and grievance redressal contribute to a sense of justice and respect among employees (Greenberg, 2020). In contrast, inconsistent or biased policies can lead to perceptions of favoritism, inequity, and discontent, eroding trust and morale within the organization. Similarly, external factors, such as economic conditions, enterprise trends, and societal changes, also influence employee relations. Economic instability, for instance, may lead to job insecurity and heightened stress levels among employees, affecting their interactions and morale. Similarly, industry disruptions or technological advancements necessitate organizational changes, which, if poorly managed, can strain employee relations. Therefore, a survey will be conducted in order to examine the problems and prospects of employee relations in Small and Medium Enterprise in Buea, Cameroon.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Employee relations play a pivotal role in the success of Small and Medium Entreprise (SMEs), impacting productivity, job satisfaction, and the overall workplace ambiance. In Cameroon, despite concerted efforts to nurture positive employee relations, persistent challenges hinder the SMEs effectiveness and employee well-being. Despite their importance, many companies struggle to maintain positive employee relations, resulting in diminished employee satisfaction, increased turnover rates, and reduced organizational effectiveness. Furthermore, the discourse surrounding the employee relations in SMEs is divided into two contrasting perspectives. One perspective, known as the "small is beautiful" view (Dundon et al., 2019; Roberts et al., 2022; Schumacher, 2018), depicts an environment where close, amicable, and harmonious relationships between owner-managers and employees are facilitated through informal communication and greater flexibility. In such firms, the accessibility of employees to managers and familial social relations between owners and workers create an environment conducive to grievance resolution and open communication on employment and work-related matters, resulting in minimal conflict and reduced need for collective relations. However, the opposing perspective, advocated by Rannie (2019), portrays SMEs as "black hole" organizations (Dundon, 2019; Guest and Conway, 2017), where a presumed harmonious relationship conceals exploitative tendencies, authoritarian control, poor working conditions, and an unsafe work environment. These workplaces typically lack union representation, with managers and workers deceiving themselves about the absence of conflicts. Various explanations are offered for the harmonious employer-employee relationship in SMEs, including the absence of representation and trade union activity, paternalistic managerial practices, and the informal, flexible nature of relations fostering greater interaction, communication, trust, and cooperation between management and employees. Additionally, SMEs offer opportunities for closer relationships between managers and workers, potentially reducing the appeal of trade union activity and promoting productivity through less hierarchical management structures (Edwards, 2019). It is in the light of these that the study seeks to examine the problems and prospects of employee relations in Small and Medium Enterprise in Buea, Cameroon.

1.3  Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to examine the problems and prospects of employee relations in Small and Medium Enterprise in Buea, Cameroon. Specifically, the study will;

Identify the need for effective employee relations in Small and Medium Enterprise in Buea, Cameroon.

Identify the problems associated with poor employees relations in Small and Medium Enterprises in Buea, Cameroon.

Ascertain the prospects of employee relations in SME  in Buea, Cameroon.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study:

What are the need for effective employee relations in Small and Medium Enterprise in Buea, Cameroon?

What are the problems associated with poor employees relations in Small and Medium Enterprises in Buea, Cameroon?

What is the prospects of employee relations in SME  in Buea, Cameroon?

1.5  Significance of the Study

Through this study, SMEs owners and employees will gain an understanding of the benefits of cultivating positive employee relations and how it affects the performance of the organization. Furthermore, subsequent researchers will use it as a literature review. This means that other students who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review. Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regard to the problems and prospects of employee relations in Small and Medium Enterprise in Buea, Cameroon.

1.6 Scope of the study

The scope of this study is boarded on the problems and prospects of employee relations in Small and Medium Enterprise in Buea, Cameroon. Empirically, this study will identify the need for effective employee relations in Small and Medium Enterprise in Buea, Cameroon; identify the problems associated with poor employees relations in Small and Medium Enterprises in Buea, Cameroon; and the prospects of employee relations in SME  in Buea, Cameroon. Geographically, the study will be delimited to employee of some selected Small and Medium Enterprise in Buea, Cameroon.

1.8 Limitation of the study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed. 

More so, the findings of this study are limited to the sample population in the study area, hence they may not be suitable for use in comparison to other schools, local governments, states, and other countries in the world.

 1.9 Definition of Terms

Employee Relations: refers to the interactions, dynamics, and relationships among employees within an organization and between employees and management, encompassing communication, teamwork, conflict resolution, and workplace atmosphere (Olaolu, 2019)

Performance: the extent to which an individual, team, or organization successfully achieves predetermined goals, objectives, or standards within a given time frame.

Employee: an individual employed by an organization or company to perform specific tasks or duties in exchange for compensation. 


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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