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The Workwell Organization

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  • Pages: 14
  • Word count: 3303
  • Category: Employees

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Managing the Unions and Employee Morale Issues

 Our unit is facing several issues at present; the chief amongst them is the introduction of new technology. The unions and our employees do not understand the technology that we are introducing and thus they are wary about its effects on the jobs of the lower-skilled people.

                        The major issues that we need to address with the workforce are issues of Change – this refers to the change that is going on in our organization and especially towards the technology. The technological changes in the company are worrying the unions and the individuals. The change is for improving our unit’s capability from a technological standpoint and help our unit complete amongst the other units within the company.

                        Communication – the stakeholders especially the workers are not aware of the reasons behind the technological change and they are not aware about what are our plans for the future. They are using their information and perception to form judgments and it is our responsibility to ensure that they know the complete picture. We need to tell them the reasons for the new technology and what they can expect. We also need to tell them what they cannot expect. We need to tell them how technology will improve their lives and how it will affect the lives of those who it will replace. We need to share information with our employees.

                        Technology – what is the new technology? What does it automate, what will it do? How will be the increase in our production, what will be the savings in our costs? What are our plans for the future, how do we plan to increase our share of revenues in the Workwell organization and what is our plan to improve our quality and other things. We must be prepared to answer these questions and many more.

                        Quality – what            is quality? Why is it important? All our employees know the answers the those 2 questions but right now they are not bothered about them/ right now they are not able to concentrate on their work and hence the quality of their work and hence our products is suffering. We need to bring about a change in the way these people think about the quality of the work and the quality of the products they make- its about the pride they take in their work and right now there is a challenge for us to ensure that people do their job with pride.

Communication and Negotiation with Union

                        To get the support of the unions, we must first inform them of our plans in details. We must make them a part of our implementation plans and we must take their input on how we can and must go about the whole implementation of our new technology. The Union members represent all our employees and it is therefore critical that we use them to stay ahead of the game. The support of the unions means support from all our employees. Once they employees begin to understand the importance our new plans they will support us and help us implement the changes that we need to implement.

                        I suggest we call a formal meeting with the unions, one union at a time, but let us meet them on subsequent days. This will eliminate the delay in informing all the unions. I recommend that we meet them one-on-one as right now we need to get our relations with them on an even keel. We need to be the proactive party and we must seem giving, so that the unions will be willing to listen to us.

Right now, it seems that both the parties are talking but nobody is listening. In this preliminary session, if the unions want to have their say, we must be listeners. It is better for us to hear them out and know exactly how they feel so we can plan our presentations and talks to them accordingly. This is just a tactic to know their thoughts and apprehensions. In my observation, their worries are about the jobs of the people and these are genuine worries considering the huge technological investment we are making. We must give them a chance to express themselves.

                        Once we know how each union feels, we can tell them what our plans are. I suggest we take them through the proposed plan along with the timelines and who are the stakeholders at each step. We can also them through a chart that shows them who are the stakeholders at what stage and what are their respective roles. This simple thing will help them understand who is leading what stage of the plan and they can accordingly make their references and give their inputs to that department. However, during this whole exercise the unions must keep all the stakeholders in loop.

                        I propose we follow a German system where the unions have members with voting rights on the boards of every company. I do not suggest that we give them voting rights or put them on the board, but I want to borrow that system and use it to have a few members of the union on the implementation committee and the planning committee. The union has more human power resources and if we tap them, we can get our project implemented on time as well as train the right people for the right job.

                        I will talk about the Redundancy policy in the following pages as I feel this is an important part of the whole discussion. But before that I want to concentrate on how communication can help us overcome many hurdles.

Communication and Consultation Issues

We will keep the communication and consultation open to the Union and the employees.  There will be transparency within the company.

  1. We will hold a weekly meeting with the union informing them on what’s going on with the company—what changes are going to happen for next week like programs and trainings we will provide to the employees and how each employee will benefit with the trainings.
  2. We will also ask the representative of the unions to join us for the management weekly meetings.  They can voice out their opinions about what they think about the new policy we are making for the company and also suggest how we can improve it for the benefit of both employees and the management.
  3. Each unit of the company will also hold a weekly meeting.  Informing the rank and files about the training programs and other programs that would benefit them in the long run.
  4. We will also hold an orientation program for the employees, before the training proper will start, about the introduction of the new technology so that they will have any idea why they are going to undergo such trainings.  The employees can ask questions to the person who will conduct the orientation about the benefit of the new technology to their daily work and why it should be implemented.
  5. We will also implement a workshop on improving one’s attitude towards change that would raise the morale and confidence of each employee.  Several top management people will also join the workshops to improve the camaraderie in the company.
  6. Each day we will post a communication in our bulletin boards for the employees so that they will know what is going on everyday in the company.
  7. We will also create a company’s monthly newsletter, which contains the company’s accomplishment for the month.  Targets for the next month, schedules for training, new policy programs created will also be posted in the newsletter.
  8. There’s going to be an open forum where the employees are free to communicate their opinions, their insights, and concerns to the top management.  They are also free to ask their questions and we will be enthusiastic to answer all of them.

                        The activities outlined above and more as we go along the transition will help keep the employees motivated and help us meet the deadlines that we have been missing.

Improve Communication to change attitude towards change and improve staff morale

                        The communication framework we will use will address the questions that the employees have the new technology but it will also talk about our company and how all the other units of the company are doing. This will bring in a sense of belonging and competition in the company. Moreover, it will be the start of a long wait of communication. As a unit, our unit does not do communications properly and perhaps it is time that we start looking at this issue and start working on it. A couple of ways suggested above for communicating with the employees should also be used once the technology transition is over. I suggest that we use the following ways to communicated with our employees. These are suggestions that are viable across the company and can be easily replicated at the unit level. The suggestions are as follows:

  1. Use of monthly newsletters about the industry and the company.
  2. A section in the website that specifically talks about the news and articles in which we have been focused.
  3. Special praise for some of our employees on the intranet
  4. Monthly call with the CEO. She will address the whole company.
  5. Townhall with the Unit Manager every month. The Townhall must be held twice to cover the employees from different shifts.
  6. Special Townhall for the employees in the support functions – hiring, training, infrastructure, logistics etc.

                         I feel with these communication tools and simple policies like walking around the departments and having an open door office policy will help relieve the stress and open up the environment in the organization enabling people to get information and get ahead. Knowing where one is going helps people remain motivated and focused on what they are doing. Everyone wants to know how they are contributing to the bigger cause and it is our responsibility to show it to our employees.

                        I think with more focus from the head office and other senior members of the team, we will have a more focused and enthused team at work in our unit. Even simple visits and department walks by the senior people help in giving an impression that the unit is a part of something important and the people who work there are important.

New Redundancy Policy and Procedure

                        I suggest that we have a proper redundancy policy; this will help us as the project goes along. We must accept some responsibility for the people who we will let go of and that is why it is important that we have a proper plan before we start. I feel that we have to lower the costs of redundancy and also get ourselves on morally high ground; if we utilize the people in the implementation stage and also get them trained on the new technology, we will be equipping these people with new knowledge that will help them get jobs elsewhere. This will also lessen their hardship and hence give us a chance to negotiate their packages in our favor. The money we spend in training them will have quick returns in the way of lesser costs of redundancy and also help us boost our image as a fair employer who up-skilled the employees before letting them go.

                        Do I see the training of employees as a way of helping the competition? The fact is that competition is going to adopt similar technology. The first mover advantage will gradually wane off. The people we let go off will obviously not as skilled as the people we will retain and that is why I do not think their contribution to their next employer will outweigh the contribution of that employers present employees. The only thing that this group of people can do for our competitors is to aid them during the training and tell their old employees about the benefits of the new technology.

On the other hand, they will increase their cost of implementing this technology and very importantly cause employee trouble wherever they are hired. You see, wherever they go, they will be reminding people that the implementation of the technology will make people lose jobs. With the presence of these people, such realization will certainly creep into the people who are working in the new organization our employees join. So we can in a way, do a good job training these helping and thus help them get a job and in turn these people will ask for lesser redundancy packages and spread panic in the companies they join. And the panic would be subtle. This could be our masterstroke in gaining an edge over the competition!

Should this be implemented now or later? Why?

                        I feel that the package should be implemented later. To be precise, I would like to see the package implemented before the training starts. This leaves us enough time to get the infrastructure in place. This will also give us sufficient time to ensure that all systems are set up properly. Add to all this, we will have the full support of all our employees in the process of setting up the new technology.

                        Moreover, this will help us improve our relations with the union which will help us in good stead once the time comes to announce the people who will be made redundant with the new technology. I am actually worried about the unions making too much trouble and so I want to use the time between now and the start of the training to be used to improve our relations with the union and also have a personal relationship with some of the union members. The personal relationships always go a long way in helping one another. On the other hand, personal relationships will also help us understand the challenges being faced by the union leaders and help us help them look better.

What should it contain?

                        As mentioned before, the biggest component of the redundancy package will the training that we will provide these employees. We must upsell this training as a way of helping them get new lucrative jobs at other companies who are following our steps in implementing the technology. For the people who we will let go off, we must sell the package before the training starts. This means that these people will be with us while the system is being installed and all but when it comes to the training on how to use the system, we will call out the people who will be let go off. We can tell the union about this plan beforehand and they must share it with the employees. The fact that we would be training these people is a big bonus for them and we must show the benefits as:

  1. First learner advantage – this technology is still new and hence learning it will help them have an edge over the competition.
  2. Better job opportunities – their skills will increase their demand in the job market and the companies will be willing to pay more for a trained employee.
  3. Chance to upskill themselves – most of these people are low skill people and hence the training is all the more useful to them as they can now classify themselves as skilled employees.
  4. Proprietary training from the technology company itself – as the training will be done by the technology company itself; we must use this as a selling point. Training coming from the manufacturer of the technology itself has more value than a training done by our own trainers. We must use this as a way to tag these people as ‘Experts on the Technology’ or something like that.

                        The other components of the package would be to give them health insurance for up to 2 years incase they do not find a job till that time. This will go a long way in helping them as most people are always worried about health insurance or paying medical bills. I think it is easy of us to do this as we can negotiate with our insurance provider about this – its an added revenue for the insurance provider. If we choose not to give the insurance, the insurer loses revenue from the date the employee leaves our company; but if we offer a 2 year health insurance package expiring on the person finding a new job or the end of years (whichever happens earlier) then we would be giving additional revenue to the insurer.

This will help the area sales manager meet his targets, which means higher commission for that agency – they can pass on the commission benefit to us. Or else, they can get a special rate package from their head office as this will be a first of its kind policy for them – a policy that ends on the person being hired or the end of 2 years. We will make a lump sum payment for this and get it out of our way – the payment of course will become a part of the redundancy expenses.

                        Another part of the package would be an additional one time payment to their pension plan. We will offer to pay 3 times the monthly contribution at the end of their service with our company. This way, the employees will feel that they are getting a benefit for 2 extra months and this wont cost us a lot either. It only adds a quarter a month’s salary to the total payout.

                        Apart from this, we will follow whatever is the necessary legal binding of a redundancy program.


                        Overall I feel that our package will suffice the worries of most employees and give them added benefit in terms of the training and the extra contribution to their pension fund. The training should also suffice the worries of the union and the fact that we will be announcing the redundant people before the training will give these people a few weeks to find new jobs and keep the trouble of handling future redundant employees only to the training duration.

We can of course hold different sessions for people who are going to remain and the people who are going to leave and lessen the impact even further. As with any training we will hold regular tests etc to ensure that the people we are keeping are learning the technology properly and would be useful to us as employees in the future. This will also be a good time to pull up people who are lagging behind or getting involved in activities that cause problems with the employees who are leaving or with the union.


Reid Robin 20 ways to communicate with your employees from    http://www.improve.org/mbwa.html retrieved on 11th Jan 07

SOCAP International 9 ways to communicate with your employees from             http://www.socap.org/Publications/Quicktakes/9wayscomm.html retrieved on     11th Jan 07

Taisuke Nakayama An office communications model from             http://www.oki.com/en/otr/193/downloads/otr-193-R05.pdf retrieved on 11th Jan            07

Employee Relations retrieved from             http://sustainability.bhpbilliton.com/2006/socioEconomic/ourApproach/employee            Relations.asp on 11th Jan 07

How do you fire an employee Business Bloging the world of IT retrieved from             http://blogs.ittoolbox.com/linux/world/archives/how-do-you-fire-an-employee-    4777 on 11th Jan 07

Chris Musselwhite How to fire an employee Inc.com retrieved from             http://www.inc.com/resources/leadership/articles/20060801/musselwhite.html on            11th Jan 07

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