So, you’ve got the legal side of union organizing down. You understand the rules of an election campaign, including TIPS and FOE, and you know the signs of organizing activity. You might even be prepared, with videos and websites, should a campaign begin. But what about right now?
Here are the top 5 union proofing tips and tricks, provided from the best of the best union free companies. These tips come from decades of employee communication experience, from companies that have successfully built a union proof workforce.
- Strive to create an issue-free work place. This may sound obvious, but it’s not easy – after all, you can’t solve employee complaints with happy thoughts, and there are plenty of companies that create their own issues with bad policies. So keeping the goal of an issue-free workplace in mind across all human resources and labor relations functions will help shape the ways in which your company creates policies (particularly solicitation and distribution policies), establishes pay and benefits, handles complaints, addresses communication and generally treats employees.
- Encourage employee participation & talk about that participation. This means your entire workforce is encouraged to voice their opinions and ask questions. It also means that you are responsive to those questions. By encouraging their participation, you are instilling confidence that the company will do the right thing. More than just creating the perception that employees are in the loop, actually keep them informed. When you do the right thing, be sure every employee knows about it!
- Communicate your Union Free Philosophy. Start even before you hire. Use the best and most effective applicant assessment techniques (unions look to target certain types of employees), and do a pre-hire orientation that includes your union free operating philosophy. Reinforce your union free philosophy regularly with employee communication tools such as video and and websites.
- Give supervisors the tools & knowledge they need. Educate your managers on positive employee relations, how to motivate employees, and how to properly praise and reward them. Train them on the signs of organizing activity and lawful ways to respond to union tactics and employee questions. Don’t be afraid to empower your managers to balance the best interests of employees with the success of the business.
- Keep an ear to the ground. Stay attuned to the level of employee engagement and satisfaction. Understand where you might be vulnerable to union organizing and work to fix those areas (see #1!). When dissatisfaction occurs (and you know it will), don’t take it personally – be ready to hear it out, and address concerns. Remember that employee perception IS reality.
Stay on top of the latest in Labor. With the labor landscape as volatile as it has been over the last several years, it’s more important than ever to stay informed. Make sure you are up to speed on what the union most likely to target your company (and your employees) is doing. Are they organizing? Striking? Working the political landscape? Knowing their current objectives can make a dramatic difference when they start nosing around your company.
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