Engaged Employees Need Engaged Managers

John Commins, April 11, 2011

Regular readers of this column know that when it comes to unions, my mantra has been "management gets the union it deserves." If your healthcare organization has a union, or is in the midst of organizing activity, chances are that poor management or some sort of management-labor communications breakdown played a role. Ultimately the responsibility falls on management.

That came to mind when I read a recent item in the management-friendly HR Daily Advisor entitled: Warning Signs – Unions Organizing Behind Your Back.

The item was a synopsis of observations made by Mark Ricciardi, a Las Vegas attorney specializing in labor issues. While the observations were not specific to healthcare, Ricciardi's telltale signs included:

  • Employees are unusually busy and excited
  • Talking stops or groups break up when supervisor nears
  • Employees request information about policies and benefits
  • A new "spokesperson" emerges
  • Employees who typically talk to supervisors no longer do so
  • Employees no longer look you in the eye
  • Employees question managerial authority
  • New employee alliances form
  • Changes in nature/frequency of employee complaints
  • Increases in argumentative questions at meetings
  • Increases in unauthorized "group" complaints
  • Employees seem increasingly divided
  • Poor performers show improvement

According to the Advisor, Ricciardi said HR should establish an "early warning system" that includes training managers to report all signs of labor activity, no matter how "trivial."

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon