Monday, August 01, 2005

Unions and The Ownership Society

Jonathan Cortis over at Thoughts of an American Centrist has some excellent ideas about how both American businesses and unions can find success in the coming decades. It's all about the workforce feeling ownership of their job and management acknowledging the intellectual resources of their employees.

Read the whole post. But I will add that before going out on my own as a freelance writer, I worked for a company that made it a policy to foster ownership amongst its employees. This worked very well for those who were highly motivated, achievement-oriented people. But it was not particularly successful with those who preferred not to put in any more work than what the original job specifications required. Simply put, they wanted a paycheck and they wanted others to worry about making the decisions and innovations necessary to run the company.

Properly, those who chose to take ownership were rewarded with promotions and salary increases. Those who didn't want ownership, remained where they were with little or no advancement. The company, I think, is better because of its ownership policy. But the policy was not a cure-all. It required that the company have achievement-oriented employees on staff. Without that, the policy would have failed.

This is another area unions can help in. Instead of trying to create systems of rigid, seniority based promotions, help companies identify those employees willing to take ownership. In fact, don't just help, demand that employees be rewarded for their new ideas and initiatives that benefit the company. And they could help foster an achievement-oriented culture amongst union members. The more employees willing to take ownership, the more benefit there will be to worker and company alike.

Jonathan is right. Integrating the goals of the company with the goals of the workers is integral to the future of both American business and the American worker.


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