Change and Union Organizing: How to Protect Your Company

Every company suffers growing pains, restructurings, or other significant change. These periods of change can be uncomfortable to rank and file employees, who may not understand the company’s rationale or strategy. New owners, leadership, or benefits packages could lead employees to engage with unions or other outside organizations. Here’s how to prevent anxiety during a change and union organizing threat and clearly communicate with employees.

1. Change Carries A Certain “Fear Factor”

Change can be frightening, no matter what that change might actually be. Changes in leadership, regulations, or job requirements can cause anxiety and apprehension if you fail to effectively communicate with employees. Ultimately, employees must feel that they understand what change is going to occur to the company as a whole and what it means for them individually. You have a narrow window to address those concerns and prevent outside groups from taking advantage of the situation involving change and union organizing.

2. How Can Employers Keep Employees From Turning To Outside Parties?

Managing an organization requires effective communication, and this scenario is no different. Employees need to feel that you understand their concerns and that you’re providing them with the information they need to understand the transition. Employers need to explain why the change is the right decision for the company and how employees will be affected. This can be done with a letter from the CEO, town hall meetings, or any other format to reach employees. Make sure to provide as much information as possible, but never make a promise you can’t keep; that’s a surefire way to upset employees and raise the risk of union organizing.

3. Who Should Play A Role In This Process During Change and Union Organizing?

A lot of people need to be involved in this process. HR is an obvious candidate, but responsibility extends up and down the corporate ladder. Upper management needs to set the tone for employee-facing communications and media relations personnel need to work closely with those leaders. Labor relations staff and supervisors must also be included, since they will be the face of management to rank and file employees. Managers need to be seen as involved and approachable to win the trust of employees. Effective communication is a collaborative effort and requires close cooperation across the enterprise.

Union avoidance is all about communication, especially during times of change. Employees need to feel their concerns are being addressed and that effort requires management, HR, and supervisors to work together. If you fail to respond to employee concerns quickly and effectively, you raise the risk that dissent will transform into union card signing and other organized labor action.

About the author

Walter Orechwa

Walter is Projections’ CEO and the founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.