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Negotiations are an unavoidable circumstance in any relationship including work conflicts. Negotiations provide people with lasting solutions to their problems without assuming the demands of any party involved in a conflict. Kaiser Permanente Hospitals held one of the largest strikes in California that includes 21000 nurses. There are problems in the hospital that led to the strike that also needs to be addressed if the workers will go back to work. Negotiations will provide the management, the employees, and other concerned parties with solutions to maintain a healthy working relationship. This paper explores the criteria of choosing good negotiation tactics, implementation strategies and finally looks at the anticipated outcome of solving the situation at Kaiser permanent hospitals.
On January 31, 2012, the workers of Kaiser Permanente hospitals staged a one day strike recorded as one of the biggest strikes. The National Union of Health Workers called for the strike where 4000 of its members participated including 650 members of the Stationary Engineers Local 39 and 17000 registered nurses with the California Nurses Association. According to (National Union of Healthcare Workers 2012) the National Union of Health Workers (NUHW) was bargaining a new contract for the workers at Kaiser Hospitals since 2010 which was not fulfilled. One of the reasons behind the strike was the fact that the negotiations about the contract were stalling. The strike at Kaiser Permanente Hospitals is not a new ordeal to the management since it is the fourth strike that happened since the beginning of the bargain of a new contract back in the year 2010 (Villatoro, 2012, February). However, this strike indicates that the negations and bargaining strategies employed are not working and it is the time the management and the National Union of Health Workers need to employ a different strategy to ensure that the problems are fixed and each party is content with the decisions.
The conditions of the strike point out that both the National Union of Health Workers and the management at Kaiser Permanente Hospitals have a different interest that needs to be fulfilled. The hospital management states that they need to reduce the benefits of its workers with the aim of increasing the profits of the hospital by reducing the expenditure of their salaries, benefits, and bonuses. Conversely, even after making the reductions the management still increased ad spent more in the compensations of their top managers and executive officers.
The workers in Kaiser Permanente Hospitals are against the compensation reductions since it is quite unfair to reduce the employees' benefits and health coverage while increasing the benefits of the top managers and executives. The employees also complain about the constant refusal of the management to address their grievances about the shortage of staff members in the hospitals. They state that the shortage of staff members at the hospital is causing a negative impact on service delivery to the patients due to the workload the staffs have. The staff members also add that the mental health wing is experiencing a serious deficiency of services thus the hospital management should address immediate and more pressing problems at the premises than just focusing on the reductions of the compensations. The National Union of Health Workers (NUHW) is a union that seeks to protect the interests of its members thus they support the staff members at Kaiser Permanente Hospitals to ensure that they get the right compensation rates they deserve.
There are several negotiation options available in solving the crisis at Kaiser Permanent Hospitals. The negotiations could employ the integrative negotiation and the distributive negotiation theories. According to (Fisher, Patton, & Ury, 2011) integrative negotiation entails the strategy that allows both parties involved to feel like they have gained more from the process. Integrative negotiation calls for cooperation and ensuring that it is a win-win situation for both parties. Integrative negotiation is an important aspect n the case of Kaiser Permanente Hospital since it involves the creation of value for both the hospital and the employees. It helps the concerned parties to find possible ways of achieving their objectives and goals through coordination and sharing of resources. Distributive negotiation is also another option for Kaiser Management and their employees (Dür, Mateo, & Thomas, 2010). It is a negotiation process that focuses on the interests of one party over the interest of another. The main aim of distributive negotiation is to ensure that one party maximizes its interests through manipulation, withholding information and forcing the other party to give in to the demands.
Conversely, while choosing the best negotiation options there are several factors that need to be considered to ensure that the parties leave the negotiation table contented. First, it is important to consider and classify the relationship of the parties involved in the conflict. According to (Ury, 2007) there are several classes of relationships that need to be considered. The relationships include cooperative negotiation, continuous negotiation, intermittent negotiation, and crisis negotiation. Solving the problem at Kaiser Permanente Hospitals will utilize all the relationships for both long-term and short-term effects.
The crisis negotiation is normally used when one of the party stages a confrontation like a strike. In this case, the employees called out for a strike which led to a standstill in the hospital. The crisis negotiation will be important to help in solving the immediate problem which is the strike (Moody, 2014). This is important in calling off the strike before finally negotiating on the existing issues.
Intermittent negotiations are also a critical tactic in this situation. The employees and the management at Kaiser Permanente hospital has a good relationship before the management threatened to make reductions on their health coverage and benefits. This kind of negotiation is important since the relationship that exists between the management and employees at the hospitals. It is important to conduct this negotiation to avoid breaking the relationship which may lead to mistrust between the two parties.
A Continuous negotiation is conducted when there is an ongoing relationship between the concerned parties. Kaiser hospital management and the employees have an ongoing relationship that needs to be maintained for present and future negotiations. Maintaining the relationship will help the parties face each other in the future without any difficulties or prejudice for successful future negotiation strategy. Ury (2007) states that every party in a negotiation should first acknowledge that everyone in that process is a person. Thus it is important to focus on each other's opinions, emotions, needs, and demands. This will help in choosing the best solution in solving the conflicts. While choosing the best negotiation approach, it is vital to focus on the interests of each party. Identifying interest helps one in knowing what method will help in solving the conflict. The next criterion is brainstorming for potential value-creating prospects. Brainstorming on all available options helps in identifying which option suits best the interest of the concerned parties. To avoid confusion and repetition, it is also important to record the suitable alternatives found before finally making the decisions. Evaluation of options is also an important principle. This stage aids people to weigh which option is the best. While weighing the options ethics, norms, and standards for each option should be considered. Evaluation is a significant factor and stage that helps in identifying probable options that will lead to efficient and effective outcomes that will maximize value for each member involved in the Kaiser Permanente Hospitals case.
The best alternative to this negotiation is the win-win approach or the interactive negotiation. There are several critical factors that will help in implementing the win-win approach to ensure that the results of the negotiation are positive and last for a long time. First, the management and the employees at Kaiser Permanente Hospitals have a negative attitude towards each other due to the conflict between them. To avoid tension and possible disagreements it is therefore important to ensure that both parties orient themselves with the approach. Attitude is a critical factor in negotiations and hugely affects the outcome of a negotiation. Having a positive attitude towards the process helps people find the best solutions to the problem. Negotiations like any other process need to have a plan. A plan helps one have a clear goal of what they wish to achieve at the end of the process. In relation to the case at Kaiser Permanente hospitals, the employees want a continued environment that will help them work effectively. They also need their salary increase and no deductions. Salaries and compensations are important for employees as it helps in increasing motivation thus increasing productivity which leads to increased profits. It is clear that the management wants high profits for the hospitals. The best alternative to this negotiation process is to ensure that the concerned parties get a win-win solution. Since it is a contentious issue, it is important to separate people from the problem. The employees of the hospital are already aggravated by the management decisions to reduce their compensations and increase the benefits of the top management. The management is also not okay with the decision of the employees to strike leading to a standoff in the hospital. This situation may lead to problems that will hinder the negotiation process. Thus separating people from the problems at hand will help in solving issues impartially. The management should also focus on the well-being of the employees. It is hard to get the motivation to work when the salary one receives is barely enough to cover one's needs. A poor working condition also causes stress to the employees leading to low productivity. The management should also consider that their employees have a workload due to insufficient staff members. Such conditions only warrant poor service delivery and productivity. The next step is creating options for mutual benefit for the parties. The management should reconsider its move in compensations reductions for the employees. They should also increase the staff members at the hospital to ensure that the workload is evenly distributed among the members. Since the management is concerned about its profits improving these conditions for the employees will lead to increased motivation. The employees will work hard to provide quality services that will, in turn, lead to increased productivity. The next step is to aim for a positive outcome (Shell, 2006). The anticipated outcome from this alternative is to ensure that the management does not reduce the employee's compensation. The other outcome is to ensure that the grievances the employees have outlined in the hospital are addressed and also ensure that the management realizes the profits it desires. It is also important to focus on the flow of the negotiation as the ninth step. This helps the negotiators to analyze if the negotiations will yield positive results or if they need to find another alternative. Sometimes in negotiations, people tend to focus less on the intangibles which later provide a point of contention (Shell, 2006). It is therefore important to communicate articulately so all the vague points will be clear and no disagreements will occur. Listening skills help in a deeper comprehension of the negotiation process (Tomey, 2009). Negotiators should critically listen to each other, ask questions, and sometimes seek clarification on vague ideas to ensure that they actively participate in the process. It also helps in ensuring that they decisively understand the demands of each party, and in unison reach a solution to help them solve their differences. Following these steps will significantly provide a clear channel of implementing the solutions and guarantee that the solutions will last.
Win-win negotiations in most instances lead to a fairground that both parties benefit from or allow both parties to mutually find solutions that will solve their problems collectively. It only occurs when the parents provide mutual and compatible solutions to each other's problems. Since this is an integrative negotiation both parties are allowed to win in this situation for the continuation of a healthy working relationship. The results anticipated should be stable and provide a channel for future negotiation between the concerned parties. Kaiser Permanente hospitals face a lot of problems than just the reduction of salaries for the employees. The management needs to also revise the compensation of its top managers and executives to avoid overexpenditure. The management also needs to address the grievances of its employees which include chronic staffing shortage and the deficiencies experienced in the mental health department. The hospital, in general, wishes to provide quality services to its patients that will lead to increased profits. Without a doubt, implementation of the integrative negotiation will lead to a win-win outcome for the management, the employees, and the National Union of Health Workers. The National Union of Health Workers anticipates that its members will receive their rightful compensation. The management of the hospitals also anticipates that they will experience positive and high profits from the services provided. The employees, on the other hand, anticipate that they will work in a conducive environment. They wish that the management of the hospital will employ sufficient staff members to increase efficiency and counter the negative service delivery that the patients have experienced in the hospital. They also want their compensations to ensure that they meet their personal needs which will help them concentrate on their duties and increase their motivation to perform their tasks well. The integrative negotiation will ensure that the national union of health workers, the management of Kaiser Permanente hospitals, and the employees of Kaiser Permanente hospitals are content with the outcome of the negotiation.
Dür, A., Mateo, G., & Thomas, D. C. (2010). Negotiation theory and the EU: the state of the art. Journal of European Public Policy, 17(5), 613-618.
Fisher, R., Patton, B., & Ury, W. (2011). Getting to Yes Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Penguin.
Moody, K. (2014). Competition and conflict: Union growth in the US hospital industry. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 35(1), 5-25. 10.1177/0143831X12462491
National Union of Healthcare Workers. (2012, January 20). More than 21,000 Kaiser Permanente Caregivers to Strike Statewide on January 31. Retrieved from http://nuhw.org/more-than-21000-kaiser-permanente-caregivers-to-strike-statewide-on-january-31/
Shell, G. R. (2006). Bargaining for advantage: Negotiation strategies for reasonable people. Penguin.
Tomey, A. M. (2009). Nursing management and leadership. USA: Mosby Elsevier.
Ury, W. (2007). Getting Past No Negotiating in Difficult Situations (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Bantam Dell.
Villatoro, C. (2012, February1). Update: Kaiser Employees Will Stage One-Day Strike. Retrieved from https://patch.com/california/dixon/kaiser-employees-will-stage-one-day-strike
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