The company’s success requires the collective efforts of all employees. Culturally, we want to emphasize that everyone’s on the same team. Whether frontline employees are union or not, internal communications can help build their engagement, celebrate their contributions and connect them with the big picture.
Here are five recommendations for how to do that:
Establish a communications cadence
The unions are communicating constantly with their members, from local newsletters to global social media. They have a story to tell,
and they generally do it quite well. If your internal communications aren’t actively communicating your company’s cultural story to these employees, you’re creating a vacuum for the union to fill. Don’t let the union be the only one talking to this audience.
Make heroes of the frontline workers
Whether frontline employees are represented or not, one of the most powerful statements your internal communications can make is to celebrate the people who are doing the hard work of the company. Share their voices and their faces in internal publications, on the intranet, in town halls. But avoid stock photography. Original shots of actual employees are critical to this effort.
Connect their roles to something larger
Help employees — union and non-union — see how their roles contribute to the success of the company’s overall vision, and how
the company is helping to make the world a better place. For instance, steel workers provide the materials to construct wind turbines, electric vehicles and other sustainability solutions. Pilots help people explore the world, connect with their loved ones and get business done.
Engage them in the culture
A strong culture may start at the top, but the real test of that culture is whether it extends to the people on the front lines. You might try a regular feature in your internal publication that spotlights employees who exemplify the values; shoot a video of employees describing the culture in their own words; or launch an awards program that recognizes employees for using the values.
Show them respect
In one sense, unions exist because employees feel a lack of respect from their employers. In Tribe’s past research with non-desk employees
in large companies across the U.S., respondents said a lack of direct communication from corporate signaled a lack of respect for their work. Recognize the important roles these employees play and communicate respect for their contributions.