Several weeks ago I got a frantic call from a client because Employees were considering joining a union. This is a good Employer, but there were workplace issues that Management did not know about. I put Management in touch with Matt Perovic, an expert in labor relationships, and after Matt, a former union official, explained the pros and cons of union membership to the Employees, they decided a union could not resolve their issues.
Afterwards, I asked Matt how Companies could be caught unaware of issues that generate enough dissatisfaction to cause Employees to consider joining a union. Matt’s response was that Employees are in an enhanced state of fear because of the economic downturn: a third of their co-workers are laid off or terminated; their wages/merit pay have been reduced; there is a reversion to a “command & control” attitude by front line supervisors; and Employees don’t know what the future holds for them or the Company.
Unfortunately, in this climate of fear and instability, Employers have stopped addressing Employee concerns because they believe Employees are happy to just have a job. This neglect is generating Employee dissatisfaction and causing Employees to seek assistance from unions and government agencies. Matt said to assume Employees will raise issues in this climate of uncertainty without being asked ignores reality.
Based on Matt’s accurate observations, rather than “assuming” everything is alright with Employees because they are still working, Companies need to ask Employees if everything is okay. Two effective ways to do this continues to be the Satisfaction Survey and Focus Groups. By having a Survey and Focus Groups conducted by an outside organization (an external organization provides the filter necessary to make Employees feel comfortable with the process) a Company shows Employees it cares about what they have to say and it will discover Employee concerns before they turn into dissatisfaction so serious Employees seek outside assistance.
The Bottom Line: In times of uncertainty, Companies need to continually seek out and address Employee issues. Employees need to be told, loud and clear, “I want to hear the truth” through Surveys and Focus Groups. Then Companies need to act on that “truth.”
Question: Is your Company doing anything to discover “the truth?”
Go to www.trainingeverydayleaders.com for more information about Employee Satisfaction Surveys and Focus Groups.