While Ireland only lost 4,050 working days to strikes in 2018, over 50,000 were lost in 2017 – Ireland has had its fair share of labour disputes and examples of companies who have suffered at the consequence of their refusal to
tackle disputes head-on.
By and large, employees disputes should never come down to a strike. But it is the responsibility of the business to negotiate with its staff and unions to avoid this last resort. Here’s how you can avoid strike gate.
Don’t Bury Your Head Under the Sand
When the going gets tough, it can be easy to head for the ‘safe’ option; to hide inside your office and avoid mingling with unhappy, frustrated and unheard staff.
But this isn’t a ‘safe’ option – it’s a dangerous one. Whether it is a pay dispute, arguments over break times or challenges from a certain sector of employees, any issues when not dealt with quickly and effectively can quickly tumbleweed and leave your business in a state of drought when staff decide to strike.
Not only will burying your head under the sand showcase your refusal to address business problems, but it will indicate a lack of value for your staff and a lack of leadership to deal with any issues.
Not only should you avoid burying your head under the sand, but it is crucial that you maintain constant, effective communication between your business and all of your employees when experiencing any labour disputes.
From the earliest of stages, ensure that you provide leadership for the next steps, listen to issues from employees themselves, as well as negotiate effectively with the relevant unions. Union representation is often a key element in the event of a strike; getting unions on board to negotiate will often be the first step to getting your employees to listen to you again.
Even when you may be forced to make decisions that may make employees unhappy, communicate these decisions as early as possible and explain your reasoning behind this – while not all will understand, you have set out your agenda and made staff aware of what you are aiming for throughout a dispute.
Go Beyond Industry Standards
Your business can avoid labour disputes by ensuring that staff have no cause for a dispute in the first place.
Often strikes are the result of a refusal from companies to provide employees with adequate living wage pay, leave arrangements or perhaps poor working conditions.
Not only should you meet your industry standards but go beyond them. Offer added benefits, add extra breaks, support your working parents. Ireland’s talent market is running dry – of you refuse to actively improve your workplace for staff, they will simply look elsewhere.
Don’t lose out to your competitors – prove that you are an industry leader by focusing on your people first and foremost and avoid any dreaded labour disputes.
Take a Head-On Approach
Labour disputes are not good and should be avoided at all costs. But often the damage has already been done from a business’ refusal to tackle any issues its staff may have raised.
Ensuring that your company uses its HR department to lead with a head-on approach will demonstrate your willingness to communicate with staff and unions, to lead the way in finding solutions to issues, and to value your workforce’s opinion.
Take a head-on approach – avoid strike gate this year.