Navigating the 2023 NLRB Changes: Listen to Employees, Not Fear

Striking workers dominated the news cycle in 2023. From New York to Detroit to Hollywood, it’s clear that many employees in America – some 14.3 million – feel their employer has left them no choice but to unionize.

Recent changes by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) emphasize the importance of employer-employee dialogue in today’s dynamic workplace landscape. Starting December 26th of this year, union election timelines will dramatically shrink. The new rule essentially enables unions to demand recognition based on majority support claims, overriding the need for formal NLRB election petitions.

Workforce Challenges in Modern Frontline Industries

Modern frontline work features unique and challenging demands.

    • Overlapping work and personal schedules, compromising employee happiness and work-life balance.
    • Unpredictable external factors can increase employee burnout and make work schedules volatile.
    • Managing complicated equipment and production lines.
    • Navigating the intricacies of customer relationships in a demanding setting.
    • Limited opportunities for professional development and growth.

With the new NLRB directives, the route toward unionization becomes more accessible. This means it is now more critical than ever for employers to foster the trust and empowerment employees are seeking, building healthy workplaces that clearly support their workforces. Employers can draw insights from their frontline teams by cultivating a culture rich in open communication, mutual respect, and active workforce engagement.

With WorkHound, employees aren’t left to connect the dots and feel anxious about uncertainties. The platform has the essential tools needed to navigate this modern business landscape, offering employers an anonymous, real-time pulse on worker sentiments.

The Importance of Transparent Communication: Navigating M&As

Add mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to the mix, and communication becomes an even bigger component. M&A doesn’t only involve financial and physical assets – these complex engagements also include an intricate mesh of employee feelings and deeply entrenched organizational cultures. Employees feeling sidelined or overlooked during such significant transitions might feel more compelled to consider unionization.
M&As have their distinct set of challenges. As companies merge assets, melding different cultures and employee sentiments becomes crucial. Integrating an unknown workforce without grasping its cultural nuances can lead to unforeseen challenges down the line. And if workers don’t feel heard from day one, they may not even give you the benefit of the doubt.

Avoiding Cultural Miscalculations

While financial and performance data are critical considerations for M&As and overall company health, they only provide a piece of the puzzle. Cultural implications are just as important. For example, let’s say one company is exploring acquiring another. They spend time and resources to vet financials and projections. On paper, the deal looks like a win for both sides. Based on a cursory walkthrough of facilities and some assurances from leadership teams, the new parent company is under the impression that morale is good and confidence is high.
But what if workers have been growing quietly dissatisfied? Having been largely kept in the dark about the potential acquisition, some worry about job security, benefits, and pay. Soon after it’s official, a group of employees pushes to unionize, completely blindsiding leaders — all over issues that could have been resolved.
That’s just one example of how unhealthy culture can lead to disruption. While leaders receive summary data constantly, when it comes to “people data,” summary isn’t enough. You need to be able to get specific and zoom into a micro level, understanding the emotions and nuances of the workplace. If you want to better understand the dynamics of workforce culture, you must actively try to understand the people who make it up.

Building Stronger Workplace Relationships Through Dialogue

In distributed workforces, myths and false narratives can take root quickly. Active listening enables employers to identify and address these issues before they gain momentum, preventing potential disruptions by having a solid understanding of operational health and workplace morale.
Leaders must constantly question, “What more can we do?” Ensuring the well-being of the workforce not only creates happier employees but also serves profitability and productivity, elevating operations with a healthy company culture.

Leveraging Workforce Engagement Amid Organizational Change

As employers gear up for the changes set in motion by the NLRB ruling, understanding and acting upon workforce dynamics becomes even more pivotal. Keeping a finger on the workforce pulse is invaluable, period. In the face of potential strikes, unionization drives, or integrating new teams post-M&A, it becomes crucial.

Listening and acting upon employee insights enriches organizational culture and aligns the workforce with the company’s broader vision. As the dynamics evolve, employee feedback tools will undoubtedly play an instrumental role in bridging the gap between employers and their most valuable asset – their employees.

How to Keep a Constant Pulse on Company Culture

A thriving workplace is an environment where employees feel valued, safe, and motivated to share their concerns. Here are four practical steps for creating a communication culture that will make your frontline workforce know your ears are open and you have their best interests at heart:

1. Establish Open Communication:

Trust forms the cornerstone of a robust employer-employee relationship. An effective way to instill trust is by genuinely committing to listen and act upon feedback. By establishing mechanisms like anonymous feedback channels, you clear the path to resolution so employees can fearlessly come forward with feedback.

2. Stay Engaged with Your Team:

Keeping a team engaged isn’t a one-time effort; it’s an ongoing commitment. Introducing regular check-ins, surveys, and tools that capture real-time sentiments shows that the employer is ready to listen. Value-driven communication reassures employees that they play an active role in shaping the company’s trajectory. Providing platforms or apps for spontaneous feedback ensures concerns are captured promptly – and acted upon.

3. Dig Deeper with Data:

Beyond gathering feedback, deeply understanding its nuances becomes essential. Leveraging analytics tools can spotlight patterns, offering actionable insights and driving the development of improvement strategies.

4. Celebrate and Acknowledge Positive Changes:

Recognizing and publicizing changes made based on feedback emphasizes the organization’s commitment to employee voices. Such acknowledgment encourages more feedback and fosters a deeper sense of organizational belonging.

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

The workforce is the lifeblood of any company, and it’s up to employers to ensure their employees’ well-being. If you’re not actively listening to what they have to say, small problems can grow into big ones, gaining energy like a wildfire.

Instead, take the time to lean into your people data, actively engaging with the workforce on a regular basis. These connections give employers the chance to correct the narrative, uncover mounting issues and solve problems — all of which, if left unresolved, could otherwise make a compelling case for unionization.

Proactively listening to workers and keeping them informed, especially in trucking and supply chain management, where the workforce directly impacts revenue, is crucial to creating a cohesive, healthy work culture that can thrive, even amid organizational change.

If you’re eager to foster a deeper connection with your workforce, reach out today for a free demo.

Let's Build Better Workplaces Together

Revolutionize your company culture and your worker retention rates by improving communication and engagement.

Book a Demo