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Managing in a Unionized Environment


Hey everyone, welcome back to our channel. Today we're going to talk about something that can be a big change for any company - unionization. When employees vote to unionize, it can bring a lot of new challenges and changes for both employees and leaders.

One of the biggest challenges managers and supervisors may face is a lack of flexibility. Unionization can restrict cross-training of employees and many communications with employees must go through a union representative. This can lead to meetings that use up valuable time and impact productivity.

Another challenge is that the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) adds complexity to employee management. Managers and supervisors still need to manage employees, strive for high-level employee engagement, and maintain positive employee relations, but the union can impact the relationship between employees and leadership. Communication can become a double-edged sword, with leaders communicating directly with employees but also the union communicating with them.

It can be even more complicated if your workforce consists of both union and non-union members. Unions can interfere with employee engagement, and research has shown that union employees are less engaged than non-union employees. The percentage of actively disengaged employees is also higher among union employees.

The "us versus them" mentality that can come with union membership can lead to interpersonal conflict and it can be more difficult to engage employees in a union environment. But, it's important to build strong emotional connections with unionized employees, even though it may be challenging.

So, how do you best manage in a potentially volatile workplace setting? Here are ten guidelines to keep in mind:

Sincerely engage employees in an inclusive and non-threatening manner

There are a number of ways to sincerely engage employees in an inclusive and non-threatening manner. Some strategies include:

  1. Encourage open communication: Create a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. This can be done by setting aside time for open discussions, creating an anonymous feedback system, or having regular check-ins with team members.

  2. Promote diversity and inclusivity: Make sure that all employees feel valued and respected. This can be done by providing training on unconscious bias, encouraging diverse perspectives, and promoting a culture of inclusivity.

  3. Empower employees: Give employees the autonomy to make decisions and take ownership of their work. This helps them feel more invested in the success of the company and fosters a sense of belonging.

  4. Recognize and reward good work: Show employees that their contributions are valued by recognizing and rewarding their good work. This can be done through bonuses, promotions, or public recognition.

  5. Foster a positive work environment: Create a workplace where employees feel safe, respected and valued. This can be done by promoting a culture of teamwork, providing support and resources for employee's well-being, and fostering a culture of positivity.

  6. Listen and act on feedback: Make sure to listen to employee feedback and take action on the issues that are raised. This shows that you value the opinions of your employees and are committed to making the workplace a better place for everyone.

  7. Encourage employee development: Invest in employee development by providing training, mentoring, and opportunities for growth. This helps employees feel more invested in their work and fosters a sense of belonging.

Overall, the key to sincerely engaging employees in an inclusive and non-threatening manner is to create a culture where all employees feel valued, respected, and empowered. By promoting open communication, diversity and inclusivity, recognizing and rewarding good work, fostering a positive work environment and encouraging employee development, you can create an inclusive workplace where employees feel engaged and motivated to contribute their best work.

Include union representatives in engagement processes

Including union representatives in engagement processes means involving representatives from labor unions in discussions and decision-making related to the company or organization's policies and practices. This can include involving them in employee engagement initiatives, such as surveys or focus groups, as well as in meetings or committees related to employee relations, human resources, or other areas that impact the workforce.

Involving union representatives in engagement processes can help to ensure that the perspectives and concerns of unionized employees are taken into account when making decisions that affect them. It can also help to foster better relationships between management and union representatives, and can improve communication and understanding between the two groups.

However, it's important to note that including union representatives in engagement processes does not mean giving them control over the decision-making process. The company or organization's management team still has ultimate authority, but including union representatives can provide valuable input and perspective that can help to improve outcomes for all employees.

Additionally, It's also important to make sure that the process is inclusive and non-threatening for the union representatives, and that they are able to express their opinions freely without fear of retaliation. This can be achieved by having a clear communication channel and by providing a safe space for discussions and feedback.

Communicate clearly and transparently

Communicating clearly and transparently involves being open and honest with employees about the company's goals, plans, and decision-making processes. This means providing regular updates on the company's performance, sharing information about changes that may affect employees, and being responsive to questions and concerns. It also means being clear and direct in communications, avoiding jargon or convoluted language, and being consistent in messaging. Additionally, it means being transparent in the way the company operates, such as being open about financial performance, or any other information that is important for employees to understand. Clear and transparent communication helps to build trust and understanding among employees, which in turn can improve engagement and productivity.

Foster a culture of openness and trust

Fostering a culture of openness and trust means creating an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of retaliation or negative consequences. This can be achieved through a variety of methods such as:

  1. Encouraging open communication: Encourage employees to speak up and share their thoughts and ideas, and create an open-door policy where employees can approach management with any issues or concerns they may have.

  2. Building trust: Trust is built through consistency, honesty, and integrity. Managers should be transparent in their actions and decisions, and follow through on their commitments.

  3. Recognizing and rewarding employees: Recognize and reward employees for their contributions, and provide opportunities for professional development and career advancement.

  4. Promoting a positive work environment: Foster a positive work environment by promoting teamwork, collaboration, and mutual respect among employees.

  5. Encouraging employee feedback: Encourage employee feedback on a regular basis, and actively listen to and address any concerns or issues that may arise.

  6. Lead by example: A manager should be a role model for the behavior and values that he wants to see in the organization.

By fostering a culture of openness and trust, employees will be more likely to feel engaged and motivated to contribute their best efforts to the organization.

Address worker expectations and give employees opportunities to express their discontent

To foster a culture of openness and trust, it is important to address worker expectations and give employees opportunities to express their discontent. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as:

  1. Regularly scheduled employee surveys or town hall meetings where employees can voice their concerns and provide feedback on the company or their department.

  2. Setting up an anonymous suggestion box or hotline where employees can submit feedback without fear of retaliation.

  3. Encouraging open and honest communication between employees and management, and creating a safe space for employees to express their opinions and concerns.

  4. Providing training and resources to managers and supervisors on how to handle employee complaints and concerns in a respectful and effective manner.

  5. Holding regular check-ins with employees to discuss their expectations and to ensure they are on track to meet their goals.

By actively listening to and addressing employee concerns, companies can create a culture of trust and transparency, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and employee retention.

Build strong emotional connections with unionized employees

Building strong emotional connections with unionized employees is about fostering a sense of trust, understanding, and mutual respect between management and unionized employees. Some ways to do this include:

  1. Regularly communicating with union representatives and employees to stay informed about their concerns and needs.

  2. Actively listening to employee feedback and addressing concerns in a timely and transparent manner.

  3. Being open and honest in all interactions, and being willing to admit when mistakes are made.

  4. Showing genuine appreciation and recognition for the contributions of unionized employees.

  5. Creating opportunities for employees to feel a sense of ownership and pride in their work.

  6. Providing opportunities for professional development and skill-building to help employees grow and advance in their careers.

  7. Encouraging open and honest dialogue and actively addressing any issues of mistrust or dissatisfaction.

  8. Building a positive, inclusive culture where everyone feels valued and respected.

  9. Lead by example and demonstrate the importance of treating people with dignity and respect in all interactions

By taking these steps, management can help to build strong emotional connections with unionized employees and create a more positive and productive work environment.

Foster a sense of unity and teamwork

Fostering a sense of unity and teamwork among employees can be achieved through a variety of methods. Some key strategies include:

    1. Encouraging collaboration: Encourage employees to work together on projects, share ideas, and provide feedback. This can be done through team building activities, cross-functional teams, and other initiatives that encourage employees to work together.

    2. Clear communication: Make sure that employees are aware of the company's goals, objectives, and the role they play in achieving them. Clear communication ensures that everyone is working towards the same goal, and that employees are aware of their impact on the team.

    3. Recognition and rewards: Recognize and reward employees for their contributions to the team. This can be done through formal recognition programs, bonuses, or other rewards.

    4. Lead by example: Show employees that teamwork is important by leading by example. This includes being a good team player, being supportive of other team members, and being open to feedback.

    5. Promote a positive work culture: Create a positive work culture that supports collaboration and teamwork. This can be done by encouraging employees to be respectful of each other, fostering a sense of community and belonging, and recognizing the value of diversity.

    6. Encourage employee engagement: Encourage employees to get involved in team-building activities, employee-led initiatives, or employee groups that promote unity and teamwork.

    7. Provide opportunities for professional development: Give employees opportunities to develop new skills, which can improve teamwork and collaboration. This could be done through training programs, mentoring, or other opportunities for professional development.

    8. Be proactive in addressing potential issues

    9. Being proactive in addressing potential issues means actively seeking out and identifying potential problems before they become major issues. This can involve regularly conducting employee surveys and focus groups, monitoring social media and other communication channels, and staying informed about industry trends and changes that may impact the organization. It also means having a plan in place to address any potential issues that are identified, such as creating a task force or working group to investigate and propose solutions. It also means being responsive to employee feedback and taking action to address any concerns or complaints that are raised. Additionally, it is important to communicate openly and transparently with employees about any potential issues and the steps being taken to address them, in order to build trust and maintain employee engagement.

    10. Continuously learn and improve

  1. Continuously learn and improve" means actively seeking out opportunities to improve processes, policies, and practices within the organization. This can include regularly seeking feedback from employees, conducting research and staying up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices in the industry, and implementing continuous improvement programs or other initiatives designed to boost efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, it's important to involve employees in this process, encourage them to share their own ideas for improvement, and recognize and reward those who contribute to the company's success.
  3. Provide leadership training for managing in a union environment.
  5. This can be achieved by providing training and education for managers on the legal and practical aspects of managing in a unionized environment. This can include training on collective bargaining, labor laws, and effective communication and negotiation strategies. Additionally, it may be beneficial to provide training on how to build and maintain positive relationships with union representatives.

Remember, employee engagement is crucial for productivity, regardless of whether or not employees are union members. By following these guidelines and adapting employee engagement to the union environment, you can successfully manage and maintain a positive and productive workplace.

Thanks for watching! Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips or experiences with managing in a union environment. And, as always, don't forget to subscribe for more informative videos like this one.