Working in a union environment has its pros as well as its cons. The purpose of a union is to have a group of organized workers come together and use their strength to have a voice in the decision-making of their workplace. The unionized group can demand or negotiate changes in their wages, work hours, benefits, safety, job training and other issues that are concerns. There are employees and managers that have successfully worked in a unionized environment their entire career. On the other end of the spectrum, there are workers and leaders that much prefer to not to have an entity exercise a level of control and dictation within the organization. For those that prefer to remain union-free, there are a number of tactics that can help alleviate the need for employees to bring in a union as the solution.
How to Keep an Open-Door, Non-Union Team Environment in Your Business
Th following are several options to keep an open-door, non-union team environment in your workplace.
1. COMMUNICATE A NON-UNION ENVIRONMENT: An employer should take advantage of the opportunity to take steps toward maintaining a union-free status from the very beginning of their relationship with employees. This should be in place well before a union targets a workplace. When employees are hired, the employer should communicate clearly that there is no need for a union. Concerns and communications should be received under an open-door philosophy.
2. PRO-EMPLOYEE: It is beneficial to show employees that the employer is pro-worker as opposed to being anti-union. If employees feel that they have a voice at work, they are unlikely to look to an outsider (i.e., union) to provide them with one.
3. OPEN DOOR POLICY: Supervisors and managers should have an open-door policy in order that employees feel comfortable in raising issues or concerns without fear of retaliation.
4. BE ACCOUNTABLE: The employer should take responsibility for all decisi
ons—whether they are good results or if they turn out to not provide the desired results.
5. FAIR WORKPLACE: It is recommended that employers provide a safe, secure, and fair workplace. It is also beneficial to hear and address the feedback of employees by understanding their concerns. Awards and safety training can reinforce the company’s commitment to maintaining a desirable workplace environment.
6. COMMUNICATION: Set up a program or practice of interactive communication such as suggestion boxes, or a designated time to speak during company meetings. Giving employees an opportunity to be heard can greatly benefit the non-union environment.
7. BE TRANSPARENT: Provide an explanation for unpopular decisions. A very basic response can reiterate the employers understanding that employees want to be involved.
8. HEAR EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK AND CONCERNS: The employer should not wait until the threat or rumor of a union, before it implements practices such as a grievance procedure or conducting employee opinion surveys. Consider having these practices in place as a means to leave the union less leverage and little room to identify legitimate concerns.
Employees generally embrace and join unions when they are not satisfied with how they are treated by management. In these cases, they come to believe a union can improve conditions in the workplace. If your company is viewed as unfair or unresponsive to employees’ concerns, consider the recommendations listed as a means to prevent possible unionization. A clear and constructive line of communication between the management team and employees should be a high priority.