Employees Involvement Can Stem Labor-Related Problems

Labor problems can be prevented if management undertakes a commitment to proactive, preventive programs that address issues.

To minimize the possibility of labor-relations problems, new leadership roles must be instituted that create dynamic workplace relationships.

It's better for management to engage employees in dialogue rather than a one-sided monologue of directives from management. If there are workplace problems, management should open a dialogue with employees and brainstorm to find solutions. Having been consulted, employees feel they matter, their opinions count and management is listening to their concerns.

Management can show its concern by doing such things as having a financial expert offer free financial advice about retirement investments and offering fitness and stress-reduction classes at a nominal charge. As a result of such actions, management will be perceived as sincerely showing that it cares for its employees' welfare.

Two-way communication gives management an opportunity to discuss its concerns about increasing operating costs, such as healthcare. If employees understand the burden management faces in paying a portion of healthcare costs, they'll understand how those costs might affect wages and benefits. When such information is shared months prior to negotiations, it will more likely be believed because it's not associated with negotiations.

In most employee surveys, 30 percent to 40 percent of employees express negative feelings. Among the most common concerns frequently voiced by employees are: confusion about work assignments, frustration about certain working conditions, feeling oppressed by management, feeling that management doesn't listen and feeling that management pays only lip service to concerns.

To achieve acceptance from employees, management needs to have a critical understanding of them. It requires compromise, coalescence and consensus.

Without a consensus between management and employees, there will always be the prospect for an adversarial relationship blowing up carefully laid tracks constructed to reach corporate goals. Areas of discontent can be ameliorated with cost-effective programs that are responsive to employees' needs and concerns. If those areas of discontent are left to fester, they could fuel strikes, slowdowns and unionization.

The consensus management can create is necessary to make employees feel they are stakeholders in a company, an integral part of the corporate culture, contributors and beneficiaries.

Once management and employees come to a mutual understanding about how to create better efficiencies and increase productivity, they'll share a clear understanding of the drivers that increase success.

Recognition makes teamwork successful. It's essential that management recognize employees and repeat and reinforce that recognition.

An Employee Advocate Representative program is another important element to create successful teamwork. A designated employee, one mutually agreed upon by management and employees, becomes the EAR. The program's purpose is to have a peer person available to assist employees with any of their problems. Establishing the program demonstrates management's commitment to addressing its employees' concerns. The initiative has improved workplace environments and isn't expensive. The return on such an investment can be tremendous.

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