In past blog entries we have written about the need for management to engage employees to find ways to improve the workplace. This time, we want to look at the role of employees and the union in establishing the process.
Management support for employee involvement is a necessity. In many organizations managers have initiated the process. However, an effective involvement process requires the commitment of both parties.
Employees and union must take the responsibility of stepping up and taking a lead role in employee engagement. The process is built around capitalizing on the experiences and ideas of everyone in the organization, and this cannot happen without the active involvement of everyone.
Employees and their union must understand the employee engagement process and determine their goals for it. The process provides an excellent opportunity for resolving workplace problems employees face daily. The union needs to help identify these concerns and determine which ones need to be the initial focus of the involvement process or Labor-Management committee. By establishing goals, the union will be better able to work in a unified manner toward achieving them. These goals will provide a focus for labor as they work in the process, enabling them to be a unified voice toward resolving the issues.
Labor and management must jointly establish boundaries for the involvement process. Both sides need to agree on the areas that are open under the process. These should be areas where the teams can make decisions or recommendations. Unless the parties agree on this list, the team may waste time on issues they will be unable to resolve. Labor must be active participants in determining these boundaries, as they will guide the work of the involvement process.
Labor members must step up and actively participate in the process. Their expertise is essential to the success of the process. The union must be sure they select members who will be participants in engagement, not merely observers.
Employees must also realize the benefits of being part of an employee engagement process. This is particularly true in organizations whose culture had not fostered employee involvement. The union will need to help them realize this is an opportunity to improve their jobs. Their job security can be enhanced by improving the work process, improving efficiency, or looking at new products and markets.
Unions and employees benefit from effective employee engagement. This requires the union to begin by getting their act together in determining their goals and establishing the committee process. When they do, everyone – both labor and management – will benefit.