As we close in on 2024, the current labor landscape continues to evolve. With the upcoming National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) adjustments and shifting workforce trends, it’s critical for businesses to authentically engage with their workforces.
Today we’re talking through some of the trends we’re seeing in the labor market, along with key strategies that leaders can draw on for the upcoming year.
It’s important to recognize that traditional business metrics like location performance, revenue, efficiency, and employee turnover, while essential for evaluating the overall health of a business, may not effectively capture the nuances of evolving labor relations. That’s because, while these metrics may show positive progress, trouble could be brewing behind the scenes. This won’t be reflected in these kinds of data points, leaving leaders completely unaware of underlying employee discontent.
Without tools in place to capture employee sentiments and maintain a pulse on company culture, leaders can be left in the dark and employees are left in the lurch. When we look at the flow of information, it’s easy to see how leaders at the top of an organization may not have access to all the information they need to make informed decisions for the workforce. In larger companies especially, middle management can unintentionally act as a bottleneck, filtering crucial information and preventing it from reaching the top. Leaders also have limited interactions with customers, a job that’s frequently left up to logistics teams and truck drivers, forcing them to fend for themselves if and when problems arise in the field. And, with workforces dispersed across multiple locations, it’s particularly challenging for top leaders to keep tabs on everything.
So, while business metrics point to “all systems go,” employees can very well be struggling. Compounding the problem, leaders think things are great, so they spend even less hands-on time with their teams, sowing even more discord. This past year, we’ve heard from several frontline businesses that their strongest-performing locations were the very ones that petitioned for union elections — seeking the support and representation that they were not getting from their company leaders.
While business metrics cannot always capture workforce sentiments, proactive engagement can. Catching up with WorkHound CEO Max Farrell, here are seven proactive workforce engagement strategies he says leaders can lean on in 2024:
Digital communication tools, when used effectively, can bridge gaps between management and employees. WorkHound’s platform for continuous feedback makes communication a two-way street, creating a workplace culture that is employee-centric and respectful of worker rights — with or without a union.
It’s also important to remember that frontline managers play a pivotal role in shaping the employee experience. Their direct interaction with the workforce puts them in a unique position to gauge employee sentiment and identify issues early on, stepping in to resolve issues before they escalate to cultural problems.
Companies that are able to make changes proactively, engage with their workforce meaningfully and leverage technology effectively will be better positioned to navigate evolving labor dynamics.
By fostering a culture of open communication, committing to continuous listening, and initiating proactive problem-solving, businesses can create harmonious and productive work environments, ultimately benefiting both employees and the organization.