We’re just over a month away from the MLB playoffs, and this year (like every year) has had its share of sketchy calls that fans and players have been unhappy about. 

While not everyone’s favorite summer pastime (the sports season that never ends still has more than two months of games to go), this summer there are seemingly more strike calls than ever happening beyond the diamond.

UPS, Hollywood actors, and screenwriters, food service workers in Vegas, United Auto workers, LA city employees … even doctors in the UK are getting in on the action. And they’re striking over more than just compensation.

The recent SCOTUS ruling makes way for businesses to sue unions for financial damages caused by strikes, but despite that extreme (and expensive) legal protection, many employers are understandably nervous.

Now, most SMBs like you don’t have to worry about a mass walk-out like these major industries are experiencing, but you do have to deal with the issue of disgruntled employees who want better compensation, benefits, working conditions, or company policies than they’re currently getting.

You know what I’m talking about.

So it’s worth spending time thinking through how you as an employer can manage to keep your workers happy when they ask for more while shielding your bottom line at the same time. This is about staying in business, too.

Let’s go there today.

Compensation Is Just the Start, Business Owners
“When you take care of your employees, they take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.” ― Richard J. Daly

Happy employees are the backbone of any successful organization, as you have probably learned from experience in dealing with staff on both sides of the spectrum. And research says so too: according to a study by Gallup, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by a whopping 202%.

But we know keeping satisfied workers is not just about compensation; there are other non-tangibles you can offer to maintain a happy workplace, and much of that can be demonstrated during the negotiation process.

How UPS Averted A Strike
You’ve heard by now that UPS reached a deal with employees in late July to avert a threatened strike. This year’s negotiations between the company and the teamsters’ union representing employees went better than it did in 1997, when 185,000 UPS workers went on strike for 15 days, creating havoc in the shipping industry.

But this time around, both sides voiced their satisfaction with the deal’s terms, which included compensation increases, new hires, comfort and safety improvements in trucks, and other changes to overtime and seasonal work policies. Negotiations lasted just over five weeks.

This very recent example of a reached deal demonstrates that negotiating with employees can be a delicate dance, but success is always possible, even in complicated situations (like 340,000 workers in the balance). 

So let’s talk about a few of the right moves you can make, regardless of the compensation terms, that can help usher in a win-win situation.

Do this first, and not just for formality’s sake. Listen actively to your employees’ concerns and requests while remembering that you were in their shoes at one time. Keep the lines of communication open and make sure your workers feel heard. This fosters trust, which is the key to not just a successful negotiation process, but also to retention and a positive workplace culture.

Do Your Research 
Come into the conversation having researched industry standards for compensation and benefits. Use statistics to back your proposals, making it clear that you’re offering a fair deal based on what’s happening in the market today. A data-driven approach can help lend credibility to your negotiations.

Be Flexible
Negotiations involve give-and-take so be open to compromise. Consider offering different options for compensation and multiple solutions to alleviate their other concerns. This can create an atmosphere where employees feel more involved in the final solution because they can choose what suits them best.


These are days when Coastal Southeastern NC employers have to offer more than higher compensation terms to attract and keep employees, and these principles are applicable to a business of any size in any industry. 

My main goal in sharing these values I’ve learned over the years is to remind you that this process doesn’t have to be a battle. It can be a collaborative and peaceful effort where both parties leave satisfied. 

A win-win is good for everyone.


We’re on your side,

Karen S. Durda, EA