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July 4, 2010

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Proactive Workplace Harassment Union Injury Elimination Prevention

Convert to An Advanced Proactive Prevention Program (And Increase Bottom Line Profits)

An organization with any workplace harassment accusations, unions targeting one or more locations for card campaigns and/or increasing numbers of workplace injuries should never rationalize these occurrences as “a cost of doing business.”

Win or lose, every dollar spent defending harassment claims, winning union elections or paying out workers compensation claims are wasted dollars. The money used for these non-value-added purposes could be used instead for expansion, technological improvements, product research, wages, incentive bonuses, or just plain old financial survival of the organization.

Most organizations say what’s legally and politically correct about having a policy against discriminatory harassment, a union avoidance program and safety being the number one priority, but how many have a record that backs up these lofty words with results.

Can anything really be done to actually prevent workplace harassment, prevent union card campaigns and reduce injuries?

The answer may be seen in the example of one company with 15 steel processing plants and 1,500 employees, of which 1,200 are on industrial plant floors. You would expect this type of organization to be involved with several harassment lawsuits per year. With a typical settlement likely to conservatively be in excess of $100,000 and the typical defense attorney fees to be an even higher amount, the unnecessary expense is substantial. However, since 1999, this organization has experienced no employment-related lawsuits. Throw into the mix a diverse workforce (various religions, races, and national origins), and add women working on the plant floor, the record becomes even more impressive. Even more incredible is the fact that these plants are not limited to traditionally non-litigious locations, but this company’s largest plants are in Detroit, Cleveland, northern Indiana and Ohio.

This organization also had two of its plants vote in a union in 1995. From 1998 to 1999, unions also obtained enough cards for an election to be held in two additional plants. In 1999, this organization won the election in one plant, the union withdrew before the election in the other, and the employees decertified one of the 1995 elected unions. This was all done at great expense, not only in dollars, but also in employee time, productivity, and morale. Since 1999, this organization has been subjected to no union card campaigns.

In 1999, this organization recorded 300 workers compensation claims. Ten years later, with 50% more employees, there were less than 70 claims filed. That’s over 200 to 500 injuries that did not happen. Real live people that went home to their families intact and could work the next day.

How was this done and how can other organizations replicate these results?

By obtaining ownership throughout the organization, especially at its deepest levels: the front-line supervision and hourly employees.

You are right if you are thinking, “Easier said than done.”

Proactive Workplace Harassment Prevention

1. Redraft your Policy Against Discrimination & Harassment to be concise and understandable. Using plain English, such a policy can be reduced to as few as 350 words and still completely cover all topics.

2. Communicate and fully explain the policy with descriptive examples to all supervisory and salaried personnel. Use instructive real life examples, or a variation thereof, to enhance the learning process. Use engaging imagery to get attendees to feel what it is like to be the victim of harassment or discrimination.

3. Teach all supervisory personnel how to effectively communicate the policy to non-salaried personnel and require them to annually communicate the policy using a checklist. This demonstrates ownership in the program by the supervisor that hourly employees work for and see every day.

4. Teach all supervisory personnel how to effectively investigate a complaint. Company liability results from an ineffective response to a complaint and an improper investigation of such complaint by organization personnel once they are put on notice.

5. Convince all salaried personnel that it is in their personal best interest to address a potential harassment situation even when no one is complaining. Information, persuasion, reasoning and involvement are the most effective means for obtaining ownership in any policy. Addressing issues early on and increased awareness are the best ways to establish the right Proactive Prevention Culture.

6. Involve all employees in the program by enhancing their understanding. Help them to feel what it is like to be harassed. An Advanced Proactive Prevention Program that involves all employees, both salaried and non-salaried, creates a culture that does not tolerate harassment of any kind and is the most effective program to actually prevent harassment in the workplace. Peer pressure and the negative reaction of co-workers to inappropriate language, the use of derogatory terms, and unacceptable jokes or slurs will do more than anything else to eliminate and prevent harassment in the workplace.

ProactivePreventionCulture.com has the expertise to affordably assist with your organization’s conversion to an Advanced Proactive Harassment Prevention Program.

Proactive Union Avoidance

1. Create a new employee orientation program using the acronym  “MADRE” which stands for Maintaining A Direct Relationship with Employees. This should also be included in any employee handbook.

2. Conduct regular annual hourly employee sessions on MADRE. Conducting such sessions on an irregular basis or “out-of-the-blue” may prompt union discussion among the hourly employees and be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3. Conduct pre-promotion supervisor-to-be MADRE education and Management Skills Training focused upon respect and appreciation. In this way, supervisory candidates can be further evaluated as to their ability to be effective supervisors.

4. Conduct workshops on MADRE and Management Skills Training (Responsibility, Inclusion, Treatment, Attitude and Atmosphere) for existing supervisors. The main reason that unions can get a campaign started is to fan the flames on perceived unjust treatment by supervisors.

5. Executive Management MADRE education completes the training process. Having top management experience the same training sends the right message of commitment to MADRE.

Advanced Proactive Prevention is a process that takes time and should be made a priority. The only effective way to deal with any pro-union actions taken by the federal government is to convert to a proactive union avoidance program. If the union can’t muster enough cards to get a vote in the first place, organization need not concern itself with the proposed shortened election schedule, possible voice vote or forced arbitration.

ProactivePreventionCulture.com has the expertise to affordably assist with your organization’s conversion to an Advanced Proactive Union Avoidance Program.

Advanced Proactive Workplace Injury Reduction

Injuries are a result of well-trained employees making poor decisions. An example is the small chance of a car accident occurring whenever you are in your car, but when it does happen, wearing a seatbelt can be the difference between life and death. Employees tend to take risks at work when the chance of injury is extremely low. In the real world, it is unlikely that injuries have actually been avoided as a result of someone saying, “If I do this safer action, I will get a safety award” or because they read a safety slogan posted in the work area. Safety is a culture. Its about making better decisions every time, especially when no one is looking. All employees must own the safety culture.

1. Every time an accident occurs, ask one question: “What can be done to prevent this, or something similar to this, from happening again?” More training is not a silver bullet. “Employee carelessness,” “inattentiveness” and “human error” are overused cop-outs.

2. Investigate every injury as if it were a death. Going a step further, why not investigate every close call, inappropriately termed a “near miss,” as if it were a death.

3. Engineer a corrective action to not allow “carelessness” to occur.

4. Instill a safety management style focused on why you are “insisting on seatbelts” (because you care about your people).

5. Expand the Safety Ownership/Awareness Hierarchy by explaining how it is in each employee’s self-interest to reduce injuries. This means you won’t need to deal with trauma of work-place accident, deal with lawyers, be deposed or called as a witness, find and train replacements, fill out reports, explain accident to spouse and friends, etc.

6. Implement a legitimate, not-meant-to-punish, return-to-work program. Sitting home on the couch collecting a check is not in the employee’s or organization’s best interest. Identify meaningful work. Be diligent and persistent.

7. Provide supervisors with training on how to detect signs of drug and alcohol use.

8. Conduct (surprise or planned) mock OSHA inspections (internal or hire contractor). Consider Using the non-enforcement, educational department at OSHA to perform informational inspections.

ProactivePreventionCulture.com has the expertise to affordably assist with your organization’s conversion to an Advanced Proactive Injury Reduction Program.

Advanced Proactive Prevention Programs Improve The Bottom Line

An effective Advanced Proactive Prevention Culture Program™ will improve your organization’s bottom line by (a) creating a more pleasant and productive work environment, (b) preventing your best employees from being subjected to harassment, forced into a union or injured and (c) significantly reducing, if not, eliminating wasted expenses such as defense attorney fees, lawsuit settlement costs, union campaign consultant charges, labor attorney fees for collective bargaining negotiation and defense of arbitrations, and workers compensation insurance premium increases.

How better to demonstrate that you truly care about, respect, and appreciate your people than to establish a program of Proactive Prevention.

22 Comments Post a comment
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  20. Jan 13 2012

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