HR Guide for Employee Activism

In the current climate of uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, it’s important for employers to understand employee activism and how to handle it.

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Employees are feeling more empowered than ever to fight for what they believe in and have their say on organizational policies and issues impacting workers and society as a whole. Today’s employees want to work for companies with whom they share values; they also expect businesses to take a stand on social issues. Look what’s going on with Disney employees protesting the way their employer responded to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

employee activism

In the current climate of uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, it’s important for employers to understand employee activism and how to handle it. The goal should be to create an environment of inclusion and belonging where employees feel respected and connected with the company’s mission and values.

In some cases, employees will take action outside of work hours as a way to attract attention to their cause and ultimately to impact change. This type of employee activism may happen for a variety of reasons including racial justice, pay equity, and environmental concerns. The protests themselves may happen in a variety of forums from in-person rallies to social media conversations to petitions.

HR Guide for Employee Activism

Having a plan for employee activism is important in 2022. Here are some practical steps that your business can take to handle employee activism in the most effective way:

1. Encourage open and honest communication

The best way to prevent a walk-out or other disruptive employee activism is to care about and stay on top of what is on your employee’s minds. If your employees have particular concerns about the way your company is treating them, that is very important to know. There are also opportunities to broaden or create a social responsibility program based on employee feedback. Decide how to gather this information and do so on a regular basis. Online surveys are helpful for anonymity but company, team, or one-on-one meetings, or other, more casual conversations can also work well.

2. Show your employees you care with concrete actions

Listening to employees is important but it won’t do much good if you don’t follow up with concrete actions. Are your employees frustrated with the length of time it takes for benefits to kick in? Look at ways that the wait period can be shortened. Are there concerns about pay equity? Hire a contractor to take a look at salaries/hourly wages across your company and determine where salaries need to be raised. Do your employees want you to take a stand on LGBTQ rights or Black Lives Matter? Decide where you stand and make it known.

3. Create a transparent company culture

Build trust between employees and management by creating a transparent company culture. This means:

  • Always telling the truth
  • Offering explanations when difficult company decisions are made
  • Communicating and living by the company mission and values
  • Encouraging two-way communication
  • Sharing important information and documents
  • Ensuring your social media posts live up to company values

4. Create an employee activism response protocol

Having a plan ahead of time for what to do if employees stage walkouts or engage in other types of employee activism is a good idea. It’s kind of like a fire drill but for a different type of crisis. How quickly and the particular way that a company responds to disgruntled employees makes all the difference in how the issue gets resolved.

5. Embrace employee-led activism as an opportunity

Employees are a vital part of your business and their ideas and concerns should be taken seriously. If their concerns have gotten to the point of activism such as staging walkouts, it’s time to take notice and fast. Treat the leaders with respect by meeting with them to get to the bottom of their issue with the company. It’s also very important to be respectful in any public statement about the activism, like this response from Amy’s Kitchens Plant Manager Josh Self. Ultimately, employee activism is an opportunity to make changes that will improve the employer-employee relationship and improve the organization’s reputation.

Partnering with Makai HR

Need HR help? When you partner with Makai HR you can get on with the business you are trying to grow while we take care of your employee needs from payroll to taxes, health insurance/benefits and worker’s compensation. You also gain peace of mind that you are compliant with all of Hawaii’s employer laws (if you’ve ever looked you know that the list is very long and changes happen). When choosing a PEO to partner with, there are many things to consider including cost, services, and technology solutions. 

With the cost of doing business in Hawaii at record highs, we know how important it is to keep labor costs in line with revenue. Our plans are priced competitively and include value-added services like time-in/time-out systems. Our three tiers of PEO service plans are tailored to the size of your business and specific needs. We offer a 100% paperless solution which means that your employees can manage their needs through a computer, tablet, or phone. We can truly improve your employees’ work benefits while freeing you up to run your business.

What are you waiting for? Companies that partner with a PEO benefit from 7-9% faster growth, 10-14% lower employee turnover; and they are 50% less likely to go out of business. Contact us today to get started!

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