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CHROs: Understanding Employee Voice Critical in Uncertain Times

Roger King, Senior Labor and Employment Counsel at HR Policy Association led a panel of CHROs in a discussion covering employee voice issues, workplace rules and policies, the intersection of permissible incivility in the workplace and the need to maintain a harassment-free workplace, and the NLRB focus on electronic workplace monitoring. 

  • The panelists offered insight into the need to regularly engage with employees, and that employers need to give employees a voice and options for staying continually engaged. 

  • “The importance of employee voice in the workplace cannot be overstated.”

CHRO Insights Panel

The potential ripple effect of sectoral bargaining. Coley O’Brien of The Wendy’s Company provided valuable insights regarding the implications of the compromise negotiated in the Fast-Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act in California for the broader landscape of collective bargaining in the states. He indicated that this legislative-enabled sectoral bargaining could extend beyond the fast-food industry, influencing other sectors and states. Kate Gebo, who leads HR for United Airlines, drew parallels between recent airline industry collective bargaining and the concept of sectoral bargaining, noting that the major airlines all followed each other in collective bargaining, resembling the coordinated approach characteristic of sectoral bargaining practices. 

Remain agile in response to the evolving workforce. Mr. O'Brien noted that in the contemporary and dynamic work environment, employees are pursuing a comprehensive employment package. This encompasses not only competitive salaries but a healthy work-life balance including time off, enhanced benefits, and, most significantly, greater flexibility in work arrangements, acknowledging the changing expectations and priorities of today's workforce.

Nurturing employee voice. Jill M. Ragsdale of Sutter Health underscored that the value of employee voice is immeasurable, highlighting how it serves as a catalyst for fostering engagement, driving innovation, and igniting creativity by providing a platform for employees to share their distinctive perspectives and innovative ideas. She further stressed that employers must actively cultivate an environment where employees not only have a voice but also a range of options, recognizing that employee voice is a powerful tool for staying continuously engaged and well-informed about the evolving needs and aspirations of the workforce.

Together, these insights highlight the dynamic nature of today's workplaces and the pivotal role that employees play in shaping the future success and sustainability of an organization. The panelists emphasized the importance of engaging with employees, and how companies must adapt in an ever-changing environment. 

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