4 Tips For Your UnionProof Culture In 2017

4 Tips for Your UnionProof CultureKeeping your workplace union-free should be one of your highest priorities in 2017. Even though developing a strategy to counter union organizing activities can be an expensive and time-consuming undertaking, it is still preferable to allowing a labor union to infiltrate your workplace. As IRI Consultants explains, once a workplace is unionized, management is no longer able to make decisions unilaterally. Hiring practices, employee compensation, staffing levels and work rules all become part of the collective bargaining agreement, and management is unable to make changes without input from the union. Obviously, dealing with this much red tape is a headache for management and expensive for the business. However, with the right strategy in place, you can use 2017 to work toward your union-proof culture.

Here are four tips to build a union-proof workplace in 2017:

1. Conduct a Vulnerability Assessment

A vulnerability assessment allows you to determine weaknesses in your organization. Doing this will allow you to make improvements which, hopefully, will make your employees less susceptible to union organization. According to Workforce.com, a vulnerability assessment can be anything from looking at existing HR metrics to an overall HR/labor relations assessment. Weaknesses in your organization can be anything from communications issues and wage and benefit issues to supervisory issues. It pays to conduct regular assessments before any organizing activity occurs. A reactive assessment can open the company up to unfair labor practice charges, but not if you’ve been doing them regularly.

2. Address Weaknesses

Once you’ve completed a vulnerability assessment and identified weaknesses within your organization, do your best to address as many of these issues as possible. Even though some of these issues might not seem like a big deal to you, they are likely a very big deal to your employees. If you discover supervisory issues in your organization, you will need to better train your supervisors. The UnionProof team recommends training your supervisors in positive leadership techniques. To address wage and benefit issues, you may want to conduct a compensation survey. Ensure you’re offering a competitive compensation package, and that you use excellent communiation to let your employees know.

3. Communicate

Many union organizing campaigns are successful because workers feel like they have no voice in their organization. According to HR Daily Advisor, employees who feel like they have a voice in decision-making are less susceptible to union organization. It’s important to have (and communicate) an open-door policy, so your employees feel they can raise issues and concerns without fear of retaliation. Management should put an interactive communication system in place. Also, the organization should adopt a clear alternative dispute resolution process. Employees need have a method to file a complaint and raise issues of concern. However, communication is two-way street. Management must explain the purpose for unpopular decisions. Employees must understand why these decisions are necessary and important. Ultimately, management must take responsibility for both good and bad decisions.

4. Be Transparent

Let your employees know how you feel about unions and their impact on the business. HR Daily Advisor recommends starting this at the beginning of your relationship with employees. You can include your union-free philosophy with your orientation materials and in your employee handbook. By explaining the reasons behind your union-free operating philosophy, you can help employees understand union tactics. Red State recommends warning your employees about “union-card signing tactics.” Don’t fear mentioning unions to your employees; it’s better to ensure your position and your union proof culture are clear and visible.

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Here’s The Answer To High-Tech Union Organizing

Answer to High Tech Union OrganizingOnce upon a time, union organizing was based on “get out and meet the people.” Organizers would work to uncover what employees were dissatisfied with, and run with it, to get them to sign cards. Their strategies included meetings and home visits and one-on-one conversations. But today, it’s possible for all of that to happen electronically (and often “underground,” where employers don’t even know it’s happening). Organizers can text, email, communicate on social media, and of course, provide information on their own websites. Employees can even sign union authorization cards online.

But one of the undeniable side effects of communicating via modern technology is the loss of meaning conveyed by facial expressions and body language, both of which can communicate as much, if not more, as words. Skype and similar technologies make it possible to retain some of the subtle nuances of smiles, frowns and shoulder shrugs, but it’s still not possible to put a reassuring hand on someone’s shoulder via FaceTime. There’s nothing like physical proximity for building relationships – and that includes good workplace relationships.

And that’s where good employers like you have a distinct advantage. Despite technology’s many advantages, the most important element of employee satisfaction remains old-fashioned respect. In SHRM’s most recent Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: Revitalizing a Changing Workforce survey, 67 percent of respondents ranked respectful treatment of employees as the most important factor contributing to overall job satisfaction. Respectful treatment was ranked even more important than compensation or benefits, which came in at number two and number three on the survey results, respectively.  Five of the top ten items  were directly related to the quality of relationships with supervisors and co-workers.

When employees turn to a union, dissatisfaction is often ultimately responsible. Today’s labor unions have access to all the advantages that modern technology has to offer. They are able to attract new members by utilizing social media, organizing online petitions, and publishing reports of workplace violations. While it’s true that you need to be equally effective in using technology to communicate effectively with your employees, you need to take full advantage of your ability to provide a personal relationship with your employees – before a union organizer starts texting them.

Good management training is essential for creating a work environment that fosters the level of job satisfaction that will ensure that your company can remain free of the limitations imposed by unions. A Michigan State University study conducted in both the U.S. and China found that abusive managers create conflict among workers and can damage the productivity of a whole team. The toxic effects of abuse were documented, and researchers concluded that workers who were belittled or ridiculed by supervisors were more likely to behave in a hostile manner towards one another.

union proof companies do

At the opposite end of the spectrum, your managers and supervisors have the ability to see an employee’s eyes light up when told they are doing a great job. They are also the ones who experience seeing the increased pride employees take in their work when they are given opportunities to develop their skills to the fullest extent possible. Want to truly create a connection? Combine your personal relationships with technology – feature employees in online video and websites that provide your employees with information vital to their professional development as well as your bottom line.

One thing to note: anyone with a smartphone can film or record a conversation or personal encounter in the workplace. That right is protected, and has been upheld by the NRLB. In 38 states, it isn’t even necessary to inform the second party they are being recorded. Rather than employees “catching” management doing or saying something cringe-worthy that will require you to play defense, provide ways to show them at their best.

Most important in creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and a culture of understanding that supports the business’ objectives is well-trained leaders. Creating better leaders can be as simple as making managers and supervisors aware that the company values the development of outstanding leaders. And establishing a union-proof culture can be done with online training for supervisors that makes them aware of how their actions can lead to employee dissatisfaction. By following these tips, you CAN proactively create an atmosphere of mutual respect and, ultimately, a UnionProof culture.

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Getting UnionProof: 5 Ways to Communicate Effectively During a Union-Organizing Drive

Union Organizing CommunicationAs an employer, you want to have the resources in place to take immediate action if you detect authorization card-signing or other signs of union organizing. Those resources may include relevant video messages and even launching a website, but those are just vehicles. What’s actually most important is the content of your communications. Although you may need to tread lightly, know that your decisions and the approach you take to connecting with employees can greatly influence the outcome of any union organizing drive.

Before you begin to express your opinion, be sure that you thoroughly understand employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act. As long as you – and in turn, your leaders – take the right steps, you can effectively express your opinion without coercion.

NLRA Training for Employees

1. Voice Your Opinion

You have the right to tell your employees that you would prefer to maintain your direct connection with them.  This may sound like dangerous ground, but your opinion matters, and at a time like this, the worst thing you can do be silent. Your silence can easily be interpreted as implied consent, and employees might not even know that you care. Get involved, and communicate your concerns in an organized, forward-thinking manner.

Be direct and honest, addressing the fact that you do not believe your team would benefit from union representation. Remember to focus on the key disadvantages that matter to your company, including things like dues checkoff, work rules that favor seniority over merit and the ever-present possibility of a strike. Back up your opinions with facts. For example, cite cases where a union has stunted an employee’s professional growth based on seniority. Help employees understand that you have the best interests of the company and the future of every employee in mind.

2. Correct Politically-Motivated Misstatements

Because your employees could sign a union authorization card based on a union organizer’s promise of higher wages, you must make sure to address the “promises” made. Your leaders should explain that promises are just that – and that in collective bargaining, employees could get more, but it’s just as possible they’ll have the same or even less when the union makes it’s own demands at the negotiating table. If the union is presenting other misleading information, it’s vital you communicate that the NLRA assumes employees know the difference between promises a union makes (because they don’t have the power to keep them) and promises an employer makes.

You can legally address union promises, highlighting the fact that a union organizing drive is essentially a political campaign. The union can always “out-promise” an employer, but after the election, nothing is guaranteed.

Supervisor Labor Training

For those employees who have already signed a union card (which, of course, you can’t ask), let them know if the campaign comes to a vote, they can still vote any way they like, regardless of the card they signed initially.

3. Welcome Feedback

If your employees want to become part of the union, focus on why they’re thinking that way. Open up two-way communication – in person, or even better, online – so your employees feel as though they have a voice. Offering an element of your website that provides a means for anonymous feedback can provide you with powerful feedback.

Be sure to address the feedback you receive in a constructive way – again, silence here is not an option. It’s also not productive to get upset about things that employees may say – use it to your advantage! After all, there’s a reason this organizing drive took root, and if you can address the heart of that reason, you’re far more likely to avoid the cost of unionization.

4. Compare The Benefits of Staying Union-Free

Sure, there are some perceived perks when joining the union, but how do you currently measure up? Remind your employees about the benefits they currently enjoy, in comparison to companies that have been unionized.

For instance, if employees currently have a fair, well-liked supervisor, one with whom they interact successfully, remind them that they might no longer have this option. After unionization, they will need to bring any issues to a union representative. In other words, like it or not, employees lose their “one-on-one” connection to management.


5. Use Personal Experiences and Transparency to Your Advantage

As an employer, you may have had experiences with a union in your work life. Both you and your managers and supervisors can legally relate your personal experiences. Be honest and transparent, telling employees about what you’ve learned, highlighting negative changes that you’ve seen occur after unionization. Employees may believe they will receive a pay raise, even though it isn’t necessarily true; if you’ve been involved in a situation where wages actually dropped, use that personal knowledge to your advantage.

Educate yourself and your employees if you are currently facing a union-organizing drive. Begin by contacting your labor attorney and be sure to source accurate information. Try to be as proactive as possible, reducing your reliance on reactive decisions and actions.

Union drives can be a confusing and highly stressful time, but effective communication makes all the difference. Also, don’t shy away from communication well and often, especially when you believe the union will be a disservice to your employees.

Now that you’re confident in what you intend to say, be sure to address how you’ll communicate. Realize that there are a variety of options available, including not just personal meetings but also video, websites, and eLearning. Be sure to speak to employees with respect and welcome their response based on their current concerns. After all, you catch more flies with honey — and in this case, you’ll want your employees to see that staying union-free is clearly the sweeter choice.

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