Ethiopian Airlines experienced a well-publicized strike from its air traffic controllers starting late Monday, April 16th lasting through Tuesday, 17th of April. The strike was due to problems associated with overtime pay and other administrative issues.
Industrial strikes are quite rare in Ethiopia, but as large scale companies that hire and manage massive quantities of human resource rise in the country, occurences of expressions of discontent are unavoidable. This is not to say small companies or organizations are immune to strikes, proactive measures are vital to any business to ensure a walk-out never occurs. For this reason, businesses of all sizes and in any industry should follow strike prevention best practices designed to keep employees content. Here are a few tips:
Instill Good Communication Habits
As a business grows larger, it is often challenging to maintain a flat structure where there is no hierarchy or where hierarchy is not tangibly felt. It is important to create systems and a safe environment that encourages two-way communication between employees and management. This will give employees the opportunity to express their discontent to management well before it gets out of hand. This also means, as management, when complaints are received, they are responded to adequately and thoroughly.
Treat Your Employees Like Assets
A company culture that inspires and unites your employees provides benefits that go beyond preventing the threat of a strike. A strong company culture increases cooperation, collaboration and motivation, which in turn improve communications and decision-making and facilitate more effective problem solving. As employers, it is important to focus on building a company culture that prioritizes health and safety, recognizes the contributions of employees to the business’s overall success and provides for transparency in all aspects of management can significantly reduce the chance that employees will decide to strike.
Empowerment and Autonomy
It is important to make employees feel like they have a stake and a say. It is important to empower employees to create systems and structures that work both for the company and themselves. Employees who feel deeply involved and influential in the day to day activities as well as the overall operations of the company, those who feel a sense of ownership, are less likely to strike. In many businesses, micromanagement increases the level of worker discontent, while autonomy most often increases job satisfaction.
Keep Your Promise
Employees will surely feel distrust and discontent if you do not hold up your end of the bargain. If you promised overtime pay, you need to pay overtime. If you promised health benefits, you need to provide your employees with health benefits. It is understandable, however, that companies run into operational and financial issues that may barr them from keeping their promises to their employees. This can be handled with transparency and the aforementioned two-way communication. Brainstorm with your staff on how to mitigate situations that affect promises you have made.