Due to a new type of employee entering the workplace, as mentioned in my previous blog, a large number of new hires will consist of “Millennials”, whose value system is different from new employees who entered the workplace as recent as five years ago.  For example, the Millennials view life in more negative terms than the more typical employee in the workforce in prior years.  As a result, all employers, whether union or non-union, need to pay much greater attention to methodologies in hiring new employees.

Due to a culture shift as perceived by the new type of employee, the risk of unionization becomes much greater than previously thought.  As a consequence, union organizing has begun to increase.  

The increased risk of unionization is just one negative element that would prevent an employer from obtaining a positive work environment. An employer needs to have a positive workplace culture to achieve the necessary efficiencies and productivity to compete in the worldwide marketplace.  

As I have shared with my clients, it is critical for an employer to define its culture more precisely and to rethink its labor relations objectives.  Many employers have no strategic methodology to hire the right type of person who will fit within its culture.  Without this strategy, an employer’s ability to compete will become extremely difficult.  While employers recognize the importance of hiring the right type of person, their effort does not match their words.  If an employer is truly dedicated to hiring the right person in a strategic way, it would define the necessary characteristics which are desirable and compatible with its management style and labor relations objectives.  The next step is to develop a selection process which reflects the attributes the employer is seeking in its employees.  Then there needs to be an evaluation process that assesses the presence of desirable attributes in job applicants consistent with the employers sought after goals.  Once the attributes are identified, an employer is then prepared to develop a structured interview questionnaire and interpretations of anticipated responses to guide and educate the interviewer in the selection process.  

Based on my experience, the successful structured interview questionnaire contains some of the following factors:

    Work ethic - Does the applicant understand and appreciate the correlation between dedicated hard work and personal success?  Does this individual focus on getting the job done and is s/he willing to “go the extra mile” to do so?

    Realistic expectations - Does the applicant strive for obtaining maximum quality and productivity in a “pro-employer” environment?  Does the applicant understand and accept the relationship between good job performance and continued employment?  Does the applicant understand that competitive pay and benefits correspond to hard work and dedication to the job?

    Accommodating/understanding - Does the applicant understand that an employer’s labor relations goals depend upon the flexibility of its workforce and the willingness of employees to work with management at all levels?  Is the applicant willing to change job functions and work in whatever capacity is required by the changing needs of the Organization?

While there are many other characteristics that support a positive work environment, in my experience some of these additional criteria are: being responsible, self starting, safety conscious, achievement oriented, team oriented, having trust and respect for authority, and having job knowledge.  Depending on an employer’s labor relations goals and objectives, these characteristics can be defined in many different ways.  Nevertheless, I have found that these characteristics and others are a necessary consideration for hiring the ideal candidate.  These characteristics are absolutely necessary if an employer seeks to establish a positive workforce environment, while at the same time achieve or maintain a non-union environment.  

The added benefit is that developing a selection methodology that includes objective considerations will significantly reduce the risk of an EEOC charge.  The hiring methodology suggested here is useful in defending against EEOC claims because it measures relevant factors in a structured, consistent fashion through the use of pre-established and non-discriminatory criteria.  The questions in this strategic approach are designed to elicit answers that can be correlated to the hiring criteria.  

I suggest further that an interview score sheet be developed wherein the answers to the questions are arithmetically scored based on the importance they have to the employer.  For example, work ethic may be scored more importantly than some other factor, like achievement oriented.  The scores are tallied for the answers to all questions and the final scores are used to compare one applicant to another, so that the hiring process becomes as objective as possible.  

There are many ways to develop a strategic, structured interview process.  The key is the development of one with an urgency, since the failure to do so could have extraordinarily negative operating effects on the business.  

expert labor relations advice