How to work with unions to improve productivity

August 10, 2022

Many businesses see trade unions as an obstacle to success, but working with trade unions can actually improve your workforce's productivity. Read on to find out how.

Trade unions: a hidden gem

As Bizfluent notes, employers are typically at odds with unions, viewing them as counterproductive and a nuisance. But working with unions, rather than against them, can improve productivity within your company. Unions want their members to be compensated and treated well, and employers want productive employees. These goals are not mutually exclusive because employees who are well-taken care of are happier at work and thus, more productive.

Here are some concrete ways in which unions help organizations improve worker output:

1. Healthy and skilled workforce

Unions often offer programs to help members increase their skill set which means that employers can enjoy having more skilled workers without incurring training costs to the business.

The health benefits unions aim to provide their members also means employees take fewer sick days, leading to more productive working days. According to, unions can also assist companies in implementing more effective health and safety measures.

Following on from health and safety measures, as EthicalTrade explains, unions can aid a business in ensuring that it adheres to relevant labor laws and regulations, helping to prevent possible issues that may arise if the business is audited.

2. Predictable employee expenses

Unions often work to help their members land labor contracts that guarantee an employee's working period and remuneration. Signed fixed contracts allow employers to calculate their employees' costs to the company (such as salary and benefits) which makes other calculations (for example, product pricing) easier.

Additionally, unions can assist companies in identifying potential issues early, thus saving them extra costs that fixing these issues might entail further down the line.

3. Saved time

Unions help provide businesses with a single point of contact between the business and its employees. When a company negotiates with a union on any given issue that negotiation applies to a group of employees, meaning the business does not need to waste time and resources negotiating with individual employees.

4. Confident and engaged employees

Employees are often skeptical of structural changes in a company like altered management systems, so says the Hutchinson Group. Through working with unions, businesses can help employees understand why changes are being made, as well as the concerns and challenges the business faces.

By engaging employees in this way, employees feel empowered and motivated to work. This kind of engagement also helps foster a sense of trust in and commitment to the business which, in turn, improves the company's reputation and reduces its employee turnover rates.

5. Quick dispute resolution

Unions exist to represent and work on behalf of employees. By having HR and unions co-operate in the best interests of employees and each other, disputes can be resolved far more quickly, saving organizations time and money. Trade unions also often have representatives with legal experience who can help in such matters without incurring additional costs.