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Partnership in the workplace

Partnership in the workplace

Three people in partnership

What is Partnership Working?

The concept of partnership working has been the source of much debate since the original IPA model was developed in 1992. While everyone from the New Labour government, the Trades Union Congress and the Institute of Directors has advocated some form of partnership, definitions have been quite diverse. The IPA consultative process, however, sought input from a wide range of business leaders, trade unionists and academics which helped us to establish the following underlying principles:

  • Joint commitment to the success of the organisation

  • Joint recognition of each other’s legitimate interests

  • Joint commitment to employment security

  • Joint focus on the quality of working life

  • Joint commitment to operating in a transparent manner

  • Joint commitment to add value to the arrangement


These principles translate into common features that are associated with partnership working.  For example, employees would show a strong commitment to the goals of the business and would be flexible in their approach to achieving these goals.  In turn, the organisation would understand and listen to employee concerns and actively pursue policies to address such issues wherever possible.  

Partnership working is a relationship based on the satisfaction of mutual as well as separate interests with respect given by both parties to those separate interests. However, partnership works best when a union thinks about the business and business thinks about the staff before any decision is made or any action is taken.  By doing so, a virtuous circle can be achieved rather than a vicious one.   

Find out more...

How can the IPA help?

How do organisations benefit from a partnership approach?

What does partnership mean for a trade union representative?

What does partnership mean for a manager?

What are the behaviours needed for partnership?

What does partnership look like in practice? Access our free case studies here