Labor Management: How to Get Employee Buy-In

Posted on: October 1, 2014

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffett

For employees, implementation of Labor Management can be scary and unsettling. People are creatures of habit and can be uncomfortable with change, especially in the workplace. Performance measurements and accountability could be new concepts to the daily routine and if the program is not communicated effectively, employees may be left with a bad taste – that you’re trying to get more “bang for your buck” and expecting each worker to do more with less.

Preventing these negative reactions from your employees is imperative, and it starts on Day 1 of announcing the Labor Management project. Strategies to consider:

Engaging workers early

Educating your workforce on the purpose of your Labor Management program is crucial, and can translate quickly to their commitment. Clearly outlining LM’s benefits to the company, and on their individual career development and compensation can mean the difference between a failed project and an effective one. Of course, the message can be especially compelling if using pay-for-performance, providing bonuses to individuals for their productivity. Remember to stress that “A Labor Management Program happens with your employees, not to your employees”.

Identify leadership on the DC floor (an “Influencer”)

To ensure effective communication, identify an Influencer – an employee on the DC floor who will enthusiastically support the LM program and be the program;s champion among the employees. The Influencer will be educated on the LM program and will provide management with feedback and advice on the program rollout. The Influencer could participate in the weekly meetings and provide feedback to management on areas of opportunity. Consider engaging the Influencer in developing LM standards and pay-for-performance guidelines. This person will most likely NOT be a supervisor, as employees will find value in having an influential peer during the project. Management must be 100% comfortable that the Influencer supports the LM implementation and can communicate that buy-in. He/she must champion the LM work in his/her work environment and educate other workers on the program’s benefits.

What’s in it for me?

With change for anyone comes the natural question of “What’s in it for me?”. Stress to your employees that the LM program will ensure the company has a better understanding of its costs, improves its processes, and remains competitive – so our jobs are all more protected. LM will help each worker remain busy with meaningful, value-add work to accomplish. If using a pay-for-performance model, the message is even easier: “As savings opportunities are captured, those savings will be shared with employees as a bonus”.

Despite your best efforts, some employees may continue to push-back and remain uncomfortable with the LM implementation. These employees are likely to be lower performers, as their lower productivity will now be visible to management. On the other hand, high performers will now be recognized for their efforts (and compensated for it in a pay-for-performance structure!). Labor Management gives managers visibility to individual productivity, so they can say “we appreciate it” and capture top performance for reviews, compensation, and career development.

Change can be hard – but change that results in a more positive, competitive, and lucrative work environment for your high-performing employees – should be well-received when communicated effectively.

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