Every workplace has its own culture. Some involve greater or lessor degrees of negotiation between employer and employees. Employees tend to want to negotiate personal solutions. Examples are adjustments to schedule, travel, training, developmental assignments, and other similar areas. These are individually or group based. In all instances these are issues important from the employee’s perspective. How should these be handled?
These are not corporate wide issues such as parental leave policy or sick leave policy. Rather this is looking at what is important to employees where management may have some discretion. These are based on individual or group needs and circumstances.
Employees are engaged when they feel part of the process. Employees want to make a difference. They want to be appreciated for doing their best every day. Engaged employees truly feel part of the team. They trust one another. What a great idea!
Unfortunately, only 33% of employees are engaged according to the Gallup poll. So, what can employers do? One way to improve employee engagement is to listen to employees. Address their concerns. Again, what a great idea!
Listen to your employees. Employers have to demonstrate that they care
if they want to keep the best employees. If not they will leave for a culture that truly walks the walk and trusts their employees. Communication is key. Transparency is key. Active listening is key.
employee satisfaction involves whether the employee sees their position as fulfilling.
Does the job meet their needs about making a difference? It is important to understand the vision and the implications of their position. This needs to be regularly reinforced. For example, am I a janitor at a health clinic? Or am I part of entire team to ensure a safe, clean environment for sick and ailing patients? The difference in vision is critical.
When an employee comes to negotiate with a supervisor about a personal adjustment, how does the employer respond? This says a lot about the culture. Is the culture engaging and oriented towards employee satisfaction? Let’s look at tactics that can be used for improving employee satisfaction and strengthening employee engagement.
Here are five guidelines for improving employee satisfaction and enhancing engagement in negotiations
Explore how to best address interests. For example,
simple open-ended questions such as “What would you like to have happen” can be very useful.
This question can be rephrased many different ways. No matter what the employees concern, it is necessary to address this concept. If the issue is procedural, consider bringing in others that are associated with procedure both upstream and downstream. Include any other stakeholders impacted by the process. This will expand the area of concern so that a bigger picture may explored. This may help with an analysis of the issue raised. By involving others directly or indirectly with the concern it is likely to develop a better solution.
Adjust processes or procedures
Upon receipt of the request by the employee consider the ramifications of adjusting the process or procedure. If there clearly are no negative consequences, why not grant the request? If there could be repercussions with others or there are other concerns, explore the impact with those impacted. Perhaps there could be a workaround or there is no material impact.
By adjusting a process or a procedure for an employee’s personal benefit this may go a long way towards building trust, engagement and employee satisfaction.
If the process cannot be adjusted having explored other options, an exception may not be granted. It may not be possible. However,
the act of carrying out the research and explaining why is very important.
This may go a long way towards building trust and a greater understanding going forward.
Consider gender and Equal Employment Opportunity
Begin by defining the problems and beginning to explore alternatives. Make sure there is no bias regarding any of the workplace discrimination categories (retaliation, race, disability, sex, age, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation).
Are you consistent in the application of exceptions? Keep in mind everyone is watching.
There should be no favorites. If there is even a perception of favoritism or discrimination, go out of your way to be transparent with the decision making. You want to ensure there is not even a perception on inequality. You want to promote equal treatment for everyone.
Promote win win negotiations
Getting to Yes by Fisher Ury and Patton and Peaceful Resolutions promote understanding interest and working towards win win solutions. With win win solutions rather than focusing on who has the bigger piece of pie,
the focus is on making the pie bigger.
In that way both parties win. When both parties focus only on what’s in for themselves only this is negative. Without This can promote a negative atmosphere.
Support training and employee development
Employees want to understand how they can develop in their career.
What are you doing to support initiatives by employees regarding training and education?
Is the employer supportive of education? Does the employer sit down with employees to discuss career plans, training opportunities, developmental opportunities and other skill enhancing opportunities? Is there is a plan that has been discussed with the employee. Do the employer and the employee both buy into the plan. Is it really doable?
Employees are individuals
The negotiation needs to be tailored to the employee’s given individual interests.
Professional development, personal life circumstances, available funding, timing within the corporate business cycle and other factors may impact a solution. Consider the economic, social and environmental concerns from both the employer and employee perspective. Take the time to listen and learn about the employee’s concerns. Focusing on win win alternatives based on interests. Work with employees to develop individual development plans that are real. This will enhance employee engagement and employee satisfaction.
Would you like to learn more about this subject? Check out this link from the Harvard Program on Negotiation at the Harvard Law School.