Labor disputes are costly, cause long-term damage to employee relations and company reputation, and appear to be on the increase. NBC News described 2021 as ‘the year of the worker… dominated by strikes, unionization efforts and worker mobilization.’
Labor strikes are often regarded as a symptom of a stereotypical adversarial relationship between employers and employees. Employers are portrayed as endlessly exploiting workers in the pursuit of more profit, while employees are seen as making unreasonable demands with no regard for economic viability.
Some large organizations, and many smaller ones, have broken away from this stereotype by embodying the relationship between employer and employee as joint stakeholders in the success of the business, but they tend to be regarded as the exception.
This article looks at how labor disputes arise and explores how a proactive, strategic approach to HR management can break through the stereotype, foster constructive employee relations and prevent many labor disputes before they start. It highlights how Sodales Solutions engages with our clients, offering the software solutions to help create an environment where this constructive relationship can flourish.
What causes labor disputes
Business Insider reports that 140,000 US workers went on strike in 2021, in 265 stoppages. The principle immediate triggers were disputes over pay, healthcare, contracts or working conditions.
These triggers spring from a failure to agree on what represents fair and reasonable treatment between employer and employee, or from employees judging that the employer has acted in a way that unfairly disadvantages them, or creates unreasonable working conditions or pressures.
Behaviors on both sides in labor disputes are largely driven by two key factors; the quality of the relationship between employer, employees and unions, and the degree of mutual understanding between them of the business and the conditions in which they operate.
Poor relationships and lack of shared understanding tend to drive negative, adversarial behaviors focused on beating the other side, rather than collaborative behaviors focused on achieving the best outcome for all stakeholders.
Building mutual understanding and strong relationships between employers, employees and unions greatly reduces the likelihood and impact of labor disputes.
How a strategic, proactive approach can stop disputes before they start
A strategic, proactive approach to HR management sets out to minimize disputes by creating an environment where the conditions that create disputes are less likely to arise.
This means treating employees as a key business asset, planning and executing employee engagement at a strategic level, proactively addressing risks in the engagement before they become issues, engaging with unions early in any change process, and focusing on maintaining a shared information base and understanding between employers and employees.
The gap in expectations in any negotiation is greatly reduced, as employers and unions should be working from the same understanding, and there is a much lower likelihood that issues are allowed to develop to a point where employees believe they are being unreasonably pressured.
How Sodales Solutions helps our clients deliver proactive HR management and minimize labor disputes
Sodales Solutions’ approach and HR software solutions put strategic planning, collaboration and timely sharing of information front and center in employee engagement, from driving positive engagement from C-level, to deploying IT in a way that enables effective and flexible chains of communication and information sharing throughout the organization.
Labor disputes are costly and damaging to an organization’s reputation. Today’s demanding business environment, and people’s expectations of how employers interact with employees, make it increasingly important to adopt an approach that recognizes employees’ value as a key business asset, plans employee engagement strategically and focuses on proactivity, communication and shared information.
To find out more about how Sodales Solutions can help you deliver that approach and reduce exposure to labor disputes, visit us at here.