There is a long ongoing battle that is being waged between unions and business since the rise of large corporations. Unions were created to fight higher official corruption and to protect workers from unfavorable conditions and unfair treatment by top-level officials, companies take extreme measures to prevent the creation of unions within their organizations.
There are positive and negative effects for both nonunion and unionized companies. Preventing workers from unionizing is a difficult task for organizations especially as they expand into the global arena. More is demanded from employees usually with little added benefits (thus the reason for unionization). A notable successful company is Trader Joe’s, who’s business strategy and cultural environment has enabled it to flourish while maintaining a productive, nonunionized environment. Trader Joes
Trader Joe’s is a chain of grocery store that specializes in delivering organic and fresh food in the United States. Originally based in California, the company was founded in 1958 and since then has expanded into cities nationwide. Today, the company has grown to over 400 stores and established itself as a market leader in providing organic options. Trader Joe’s most notable element is the atmosphere and superior service that customers experience in store around throughout the country. Employees are pleasant, helpful, and knowledgeable; a component that the company is proud to boast. Employees are at the center of Trader Joe’s business strategy. Their philosophy is that happy employees produce happy customers (Lewis, 2005). Not only do happy employees bring in more business, there also a decrease in the possibility of unionization.
Trader Joe’s is able to retain its employees because of the culture of success that has been established (Lewis, 2005). There is no hierarchy or separation of power because all are viewed as vital to the success of the company. Everyone performs the same job at some point in their careers and everyone’s opinions are heard and respected (Lewis, 2005). Employee voice is a key component in Trader Joe’s success. According to Employee Voice is a Key to a Successful Business, “voice is the foundation of sustainable business success. It increases employee engagement, enables effective decision-making and drives innovation” (Newcombe, 2012). Listening to and considering employee concerns it important to retaining talent. People need to feel that they are being heard and respected; otherwise, they will leave and go somewhere else where they believe they will be heard.
For upper level management it is important to incorporate employee’s voices in business decisions. When employees feel that their opinions are valued and respected they are more likely to trust management and communicate freely. Culture and structure are critical to employee voice as both need to be set up with process and channels that allow individuals to express themselves (Newcombe, 2012). A variety of channels are needed to effectively support employees and their voices as individuals and as a whole (Newcombe, 2012).
In Trader Joe’s, the employee’s perspectives are reflected in the company’s decisions. This is evident in the way the company’s benefits package, recruitment and training programs, and how managers communicate and interact with employees. Employees are paid a higher amount than those in other grocery stores. The company puts new employees through its Trader Joe’s Leadership Development Program to help develop talent (Lewis, 2005). The company also has a peer network that allows managers to communicate with one another to develop better practices to incorporate at work (Lewis, 2005). The company is dedicated to creating an environment that employees feel uninhibited to work in.
The organization’s strategy for success is simple: treat employees how they would treat customers. There is strong communication up and down the chain which also fosters the idea that the company is a team and each person’s opinions are valuable and should be heard (Lewis, 2005). Whereas some company’s suppress employees’ suggestions, Trader Joe’s embraces them. For this reason, unionization is pointless for employees. Although the physical demands can be grueling, management compensates through higher wages, efficient communication, and by incorporating employees into the decision making process.
I believe that it is a fundamental human right for employees to not only be recognized but also to voice their opinions. If a company has an effective employee voice they are more likely to understand what is occurring within the organization (Newcombe, 2012). People are not machines. They have thoughts, feelings, and opinions; all of which can be beneficial to an organization if they receive and utilize the information correctly. Not many people will be content (or willing to stay) somewhere they does not value their opinions. Employee voice is a way to establish trust between employees and managers which leads to greater efficiency and growth. If a company wants to prevent the possibility of a union forming it is important to incorporate employee voice into its overall business strategy. Finding ways to include employees in more than just the day-to-day operations is necessary to retain employees and decrease the likelihood of discontentment and unionization.