While every company is, of course, unique, there are labor relations that seem to come up at businesses across a wide spectrum of sizes, types, and industries. Handling these labor relations problems effectively and successfully can make all the difference in the longevity of your company, your employee satisfaction, and any union avoidance initiatives you are undertaking. Happy employees are supported by strong labor relations, and that keeps everyone secure and successful.

We’ve listed six major human resources and labor relations concerns, along with a few ways you can combat these problems.

Managing and Resolving Conflicts

Conflict arises in most relationships, including those at work. You may see it among employees, between management and reports, or even between the business owner and employees. Conflict can also arise between clients and staff, which is especially bad.

Addressing conflict head-on with strong conflict resolution skills is important to labor relations. Any issues should be handled quickly and with transparency to avoid gossip and office politics. Any conflicts should also be fully documented for future reference.

Safe and Comfortable Work Conditions

No employee should have to work in unsafe conditions. This is a regulated and legally mandated aspect of labor relations but can still leave staff wanting, if you are only meeting the bare minimum of safety and comfort. Factors like long hours worked without a break, over-scheduling throughout a longer period of time, cheap office chairs, a temperature that is too hot or too cold for comfort — they all go together to create a workplace that makes people uncomfortable and thus, unhappy.

Promotions and Discipline

Two sides of a similar coin, promotions or rewards, and disciplinary action are the cause of many a labor relations problem.

If staff feel like they are not appropriately recognized for their hard work, whether in words or perks or wages, they may stop working hard, and they may complain, or move on to a new job, impacting morale. It’s important to have a system for recognizing and rewarding employees who are positively adding to the workplace, especially in union avoidance measures, to show how a merit-based workforce can benefit employees over a unionized space.

Disciplinary action is equally important in handling labor relations issues. It should be fair, and warranted, and known that disciplinary action will be taken against behavior such as poor performance or lateness. In a unionized workforce, people can hide under the protection of the union to avoid disciplinary action, which can be frustrating for colleagues. Implementing a consistent disciplinary action strategy now ensures that all of your staff are treated fairly, for the betterment of everyone.

Wage Negotiations

Employees want to make what they feel they are worth. Employers need to turn a profit without having to lay people off to afford wages, nor raise the prices of goods and services. It’s a careful balance and one that factors into labor relations decisions. Employees who feel that they are underpaid will ultimately become frustrated, and that creates the perfect opening for a union rep to extoll the virtues of unionization and what it does for wages.

Of course, union reps don’t often explain the side effects of higher union wages, such as the need to pay union dues and initiation fees, or how some workplaces are forced to downsize or shutter in the face of impossibly high wages.

If you can standardize the way that people receive wage increases, it demystifies the process while ensuring that everyone is getting paid what they are worth without preferential treatment. Be it based on cost of living increases, an annual percentage, or achieving a merit-based goal, being able to explain to your employees exactly how, why, and when they will receive a pay increase is a small step that makes a big difference.

Work and Life Balance

Employees who do not have a good work-life balance will become burned out, stressed, and less effective staff. Or, they will focus so much on getting time at home that they might show up late, leave early, and miss deadlines. If you want to keep staff on board, a bit of flexibility can be quite impactful. Promoting work-life balance as part of your labor relations strategy makes your employees feel valued and in control of their lives, while strengthening your workplace culture and fostering loyalty.

Recruitment and Retention

If you are understaffed, staffed with the wrong people, or losing staff, everyone will feel it. Careful recruitment ensures that you have the right people in place, obtaining talent that is a good fit for your company and its culture. You should not be settling for just anyone. Your staff informs the success of your business in a big way, and recruitment is your first opportunity to bring the people you need on board.

Retention is another issue for employers. Much of retention comes down to ensuring that you have addressed these common labor relations problems so that people have a lot of reasons to stay, and little to no reason to leave. Support your employees, offer increased training and remuneration if possible, and keep your finger on the pulse of the company to head off any would-be lost employees before they can go.

The Importance of Strong Labor Relations

There may be other situations you run into as a human resources professional or business owner, when it comes to keeping labor relations strong and employee morale high. The two are interconnected, so no matter what employee issues you run into, be it the ones we mentioned or another, the key is to promote both high morale, and well-managed labor relations.

Strong labor relations through managing your employees with skill equals better communication on all levels, increased motivation to meet goals and go further into new endeavors, and will feel like a part of a team that is doing great things. This kind of engagement is exactly what you need to reach new levels of success, without worrying about your employees revolting and unionizing in protest of labor relations issues you could have solved before they reached a tipping point.

Greer Consulting is experienced in strategizing for improved labor relations.  We help our clients take control of their labor relations, to avoid labor unions, improve morale, and otherwise ensure that business runs as smoothly as it possibly can. We also provide diversity training to clients who want to ensure that issues of diversity and discrimination do not negatively impact labor relations. Our team does all of this by drawing on years of experience, carefully cultivated skill, and hands-on know-how that cannot be matched.

Doing the work to promote strong labor relations now will benefit your company in a big way when you can work without unions, keep good employees around for the long-term, and keep a competitive edge over others in the industry who are struggling with unhappy employees and unhappy clients.

Let us help you reach the top. Contact Greer Consulting today to learn more about how our services can change your business for the better. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

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