5 Traits of a UnionProof Culture

Union membership may be on the decline, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the threat. Companies with dysfunctional cultures and disengaged employees are at risk of organizing. Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to build a UnionProof culture, so your staff members never feel the need to look outside of your management team to resolve their concerns.

What Do We Mean When We Say “A UnionProof Culture?”

Your employees should already know that there are drawbacks to joining a union. The expense related to membership usually tops the “cons” list, and the potential for strikes isn’t far behind. However, when staff members believe they are out of options for resolving poor working conditions, they may decide that the pros outweigh the cons.

That’s the point where your UnionProof culture can be your greatest asset. Because when frustrations run high, particularly in times of growth or change, having employees that trust management is vital to remaining union-free.

So how do we define – and recognize – a UnionProof culture? A company with a UnionProof culture offers an appealing alternative to unionization. It’s an environment where employees feel valued and respected.  Management actively works to support positive employee relations. There are defined processes for addressing employment-related issues, and employees are confident that they will be treated fairly.

RELATED: How To Build a Union Proof Culture From Day One

Organizations with a UnionProof culture often share five basic characteristics:

1. An Authentic Employer Brand

All businesses are familiar with the concept of branding for the purpose of building a consumer base, but employer branding is often overlooked. Employer branding refers to the impression that your current and prospective employees have of your company and what it is like to work there.

Union-proof organizations have an authentic employer brand that is understood and valued among current staff members, as well as the pool of applicants for open positions. Some components of a positive employer brand include competitive pay and benefits and opportunities for growth.

2. An Engaged Workforce

Your annual engagement survey only gives you a fraction of the information you need to determine whether your workforce is engaged. You can’t be sure you have Union Proof engagement levels unless you measure the consistency of behaviors over time. Engaged employees are excited about their work, and they tend to have low rates of absenteeism. They show a willingness to collaborate and problem-solve, and they trust their leaders as partners in their success.

Union-proof organizations enjoy the benefits of a highly engaged workforce. Employees are interested in their role and willing to go the extra mile to ensure the company is successful. Studies show that engaged employees are more productive and less likely to entertain competing offers of employment, which makes a direct contribution to bottom line profits.

3. Transparent Communication

Uncertainty is a key contributor to dissatisfaction among employees, and your failure to share openly about issues that may impact working conditions will backfire. Union-proof companies communicate well and often, ensuring that discussions are two-way and employee feedback is heard. Such organizations also excel at prioritizing ongoing training for all staff members, and employees are given opportunities to learn new skills when requested.

RELATED: How Transparent Are You? Your Union-Free Philosophy

4. Flawless Compliance

One of the most common issues cited by employees considering union representation is safety. These staff members believe the company is cutting corners at the expense of their safety, and they don’t have a reliable process for reporting and resolving issues through their management team.

In union-proof cultures, companies comply with all legal, safety, and regulatory requirements. If safety issues come up, they are addressed immediately, and employees have dependable methods of reporting their concerns.

5. Status as An Employer-of-Choice

You will know you are on track for developing a UnionProof culture when hiring top talent for available positions isn’t a struggle. You will notice that turnover is low, and you will start to get feedback that your organization is an employer of choice.

Creating your own UnionProof culture begins with high-quality training for your human resources and labor relations team. Next, shift your focus to educating your leadership team and your workforce. Finally, make sure that your new hires start off on the right foot with an orientation video that builds an understanding of the culture your company promotes.

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About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is IRI's Director of Digital Solutions 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.

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