How to Discuss Union & Contract Negotiations with Employees
Hiring people should always be a give-and-take process. To get and keep the best employees, you have to offer attractive wages and benefits, ensure that you’re treating people fairly, and give them the right amount of responsibility to keep them feeling engaged and fulfilled. That’s a tall order, but it’s something every company should strive for if it wants the best talent.
People with in-demand skill sets have more leverage when it comes to negotiations. It’s normal for people to negotiate their salaries and contracts when they are hired, but many employers don’t know how to approach these conversations. Union negotiations are another area that many employers struggle with, as it’s important to balance the needs of the workers with the needs of the business.
It doesn’t have to be that way. If you approach the negotiations with win-win solutions in mind and negotiate in good faith, it’s a lot easier to come to an agreement. Here are some tips.
Understand the Needs of Your Employees
Most people are reasonable. They don’t usually expect outrageous salaries or two months off per year. However, they do expect to be treated with respect, paid a fair wage, and given enough flexibility to have a life outside of work. It’s important to expect negotiations and to really consider a new employee’s requests when negotiating their contract.
Put yourself in your new employee’s shoes. How much would you expect to be paid? What kind of benefits would make you happy to come to work? Remember, people who are happy and feel respected are the most productive and least likely to leave.
Before you start the negotiation process, take the time to research industry standards. What are other companies paying for the same positions? What terms have other unions reached in your industry?
If you walk into a negotiation without knowing what other companies are paying, you are walking in with your eyes closed. It’s important to know what a competitive salary is so you don’t end up offering too much or too little.
You should also consider the experience of the candidate in front of you and how much compensation they will expect. If someone has several years of experience, you do not want to start by offering a salary at the lowest end of the range.
Know Your Hard Lines
Having a salary range or other “hard lines” of what you’ll accept going in will help you determine how to guide the negotiation. In rare cases, you won’t be able to come to an agreement. But most of the time, you can find common ground within the ranges you’re considering.
It’s important to ensure that your ranges are still competitive. You don’t want people feeling resentful that they’re making much less than other people in the industry or walking away entirely. However, you need to be mindful of your budget and what’s needed to sustain your
Put a Dollar Value on Benefits
Some people are willing to take a lower salary in exchange for better benefits. Some benefits don’t cost you much as an employer but are very attractive to employees. Remote work, for instance, saves people commuting costs and provides more flexibility.
Working out a rough dollar amount for these kinds of benefits will give you a clearer picture of what you’re offering during negotiations. That can help you feel more comfortable about the affordability of your contracts.
Consider the Benefits of “Giving In”
If a new employee or a union asks for certain benefits or a higher salary during the negotiation phase, it’s often tempting to dig in your heels and say “no” just because you can. But when you really stop and think about it, “giving in” can have some benefits.
For example, if your employees are requesting some extra time off as part of their contract, you’ll be giving up some of their productivity throughout the year. However, giving your employees more vacation time to rest and relax can mean that they come back refreshed and even more productive. It’s important to think about hidden benefits during negotiations so you can spot the win-wins.
Approach the Negotiations with a Collaborative Mindset
Negotiations are often considered to be contentious. However, the process is much more pleasant when everyone relaxes a bit and tries to approach it with a collaborative mindset. When people discuss terms with an open mind, everything feels friendlier.
Remember, you’re setting the tone for your employer-employee relationship during the negotiations. If you play “hardball,” offer little flexibility, and don’t give the other party any transparency, they’re not going to trust you or feel like you value them. Your new employees need to understand why you think they’re worth the investment.
Negotiations can be challenging, no matter what side of the table you’re on. But putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and remembering the benefits of collaboration as you make offers that work for everyone will go a long way toward a win-win resolution.
Ryan Ayers is a strategy and management consultant with over five years of experience in multiple industries including information technology, medical devices and logistics. Many clients call him the BizTech Guru. He is a freelance writer on the side and lover of all things related to business, technology, innovation and the LA Clippers.
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