In "Managing employee relations in difficult times", the CIPD reports on its research into current employee relations in practice. Conducted with a range of HR professionals, the research confirms the continuing shift from collective to individual relationships, but the report notes that this has not displaced the collective dimension. The critical role of line managers, the need to communicate better and to focus on preventing, not managing, conflict are some of the key messages. The report identifies the changing shape of collective conflict, for example, street and online demonstrations supplementing more traditional threats of ballots and strike action. For further information on alternative union campaigning, read our comment on Unite's leverage strategy here.