A total of 7.4 million workers in the private sector belonged to a union in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But if your goal is to create a company people love to work for, there are ways to avoid unionization while supporting your team members. Over the past four decades of helping companies AFTER a union comes calling, we’ve heard a lot of regrets and cautionary stories, but there are a few that come up again and again. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll leapfrog over competitors who don’t know these common pitfalls.
Mistake #1. Not Focusing on Employee Relations
Good employee relations minimize the risk of unionization, so craft a labor communication strategy that addresses the needs of your employees, answers their questions and helps them love the company they work for.
Your employee relations team needs to invest in solid “Labor Relations 101” information. Many of our clients expressed a need for this kind of knowledge, which developed into Union Proof certification. Today, UnionProof Certified professionals have learned how to become an employer of choice while remaining union-free.
This kind of training not only overcomes the mistake of a team with incomplete labor relations knowledge, but also reinforces the idea that staying informed and aware is vital to the success of the company.
Mistake #2. Ignoring the Power of Video
It’s no surprise that our clients say that video is one of the most powerful tools available to connect with employees. They have often said their biggest mistake was waiting so long to create a consistent message with which to welcome new hires!
There’s lots of research that proves the effectiveness of video when it comes to employee onboarding. Staff are 75 percent more likely to watch a video than read emails and documents. Plus, presentations that use video alongside text are proven more effective than those that just use text.
Mistake #3. Thinking You Have Everything Under Control
Our clients will quickly tell you that trying to second-guess employees is always a bad idea. Think your team members are loyal? That they’d never distribute union materials at work, much less vote in a union? Union organizing stats will show you otherwise. So far in 2017, unions are winning elections about 67 percent of the time. What do our clients recommend? First, learn to identify the signs of union organizing before it happens. Sometimes, these signs are obvious — an employee might turn up to work wearing a button or T-shirt supporting union representation.. Other times, red flags are far more subtle, such as literature discarded in or near the workplace.
Businesses who convince themselves they “have everything under control” often struggle with union organizing, so always pay attention to your employees and their concerns.
Mistake #4. Focusing Way Too Much on Employees and Not Enough on Managers
Good results come when companies take care to union-proof employees, but ignoring leaders is one of the biggest mistakes of all when working to become an employer of choice. To create leaders people love to work for, take the time to seek out effective leadership training. Creating a culture of learning that helps your leaders motivate, support, improve and connect with employees is well worth the investment and provides long-lasting results.
It’s long been said that employees don’t leave companies – they leave poor managers. Creating great leaders is fundamental to your success.
Mistake #5. Not Communicating Union-Free Policies With New Hires
The key to keeping your business union-free is making sure all employees are on the same page. Our clients have found that not connecting with new hires regarding the company’s union-free operating philosophy can mean employees don’t really understand why union representation might not be in their best interest. HR Daily Advisor suggests business owners start at the beginning to explain why unionization isn’t right for your company.
Explaining the benefits of a union-free workplace clears up any misconceptions quickly. Not sure how to communicate your policies? Find video, online and interactive resources that help you create a union-proof culture — right from the very beginning.
Becoming an employer of choice is a process that can take months or even years, depending on your current culture, but avoiding these five mistakes is a great start. Invest in a consistent video message that connects with new hires on day one. Educate yourself and your Employee Relations team on the signs of union organizing and provide your managers with easily accessible training that improves the way they lead. Be sure you don’t become complacent, thinking you have everything under control when union organizing can happen at any company, any time. Finally, be sure to communicate your union-free operating philosophy at all levels of the company. With this 5-point strategy in place, you’re well on your way to creating a company where people love to work.