Every workplace has its own culture. Some involve greater or lessor degrees of negotiation between employer and employees. Employees tend to want to negotiate personal solutions. Examples are adjustments to schedule, travel, training, developmental assignments, and other similar areas.  These are individually or group based. In all instances these are issues important from the employee’s perspective.   How should these be handled?

These are not corporate wide issues such as parental leave policy or sick leave policy. Rather this is looking at what is important to employees where management may have some discretion. These may be individually or group needs. 


Employee engagement


Employees are engaged when they feel part of the process. Employees want to feel that they make a difference. They want to be appreciated for doing their best every day.  Engaged employees feel truly part of the team.  They trust one another. What a great idea!

Unfortunately, only 33% of employees are engaged according to the Gallup poll.  So, what can employers do? One way to improve employee engagement is to listen to employees.  Employers need to  address their concerns. Again, what a great idea!

Listen to your employees.  Employers have to demonstrate that they care

if they want to keep the best employees. If not they will leave for a culture that truly walks the walk and trusts their employees.  Communication is key. Transparency is key.  Active listening is key.


Employee satisfaction


By comparison

employee satisfaction involves whether the employee sees their position as fulfilling. 

Does the job meet their needs about making a difference?  It is important to understand the vision and the implications of their position.  This needs to be regularly reinforced. For example, am I a janitor at a health clinic? Or am I part of entire team to ensure a safe, clean environment for sick and ailing patients?  The difference in vision is critical. 

When an employee comes to negotiate with a supervisor about a personal adjustment, how the employer responds says a lot about the culture. Is the culture engaging and oriented towards employee satisfaction?  Let’s look at some tactics that can be used for improving employee satisfaction and strengthening employee engagement.

Here are five guidelines for improving employee satisfaction and enhancing engagement in negotiations.


Determine interests


Explore how to best address interests. For example,

simple open-ended questions such as “What would you like to have happen” can be very useful.

This question can be rephrased many different ways.   No matter what the employees concern to address this concept. If the issue is procedural, consider bringing in others that are associated with the procedure both upstream and downstream. Include other stakeholders in your officed or anywhere in the process.  This will expand the area of concern to consider the bigger picture. This will help with an analysis of the issue raised. By involving others directly or indirectly with the concern there is a greater likelihood of a better solution.  


Adjust processes or procedures


Upon receipt of the request by the employee consider the ramifications of adjusting the process or procedure. If there clearly are no negative consequences, why not grant the request?  If there could be repercussions with others or other concerns explore the impact. Is it a good idea to explore the impact with those impacted? Perhaps there could be a workaround or maybe there is no material impact.

By adjusting a process or a procedure for an employee(s) personal benefit this may go a long way towards building trust, engagement and employee satisfaction.

It may be the process cannot be adjusted after exploring other options. The decision may be that an exception as requested is not possible. However,

the act of carrying out the research and explaining why is very important.

By going over this with the employee this may go a long way towards building trust. With greater trust this will likely also increase better understanding going forward.


Consider gender and Equal Employment Opportunity


After defining the problems and beginning to explore alternatives, make sure there is no bias. In the workplace consider potential discrimination categories (retaliation, race, disability, sex, age, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation). 

Are you consistent in the application of exceptions?  Keep in mind everyone is watching.

You want to be seen as being evenhanded. There should not be even a perception of discrimination. You may want to go out of your way to be transparent with the decision making.  You may need to share your decision with the team. You want to ensure there is not even a perception on inequality.


Promote win win negotiations


Getting to Yes by Fisher Ury and Patton and Peaceful Resolutions promote understanding interest and working towards win win solutions. With win win solutions rather than focusing on who has the bigger piece of pie,

the focus is on making the pie bigger.

In that way both parties win. When both parties focus only on what’s in for themselves this can promote a negative atmosphere.  A win win situation focus not only on your needs, but the need of the other party. Win win situations make everyone better off.


Support training and employee development


Employees want to understand how they can develop in their career. 

What are you doing to support initiatives by employees regarding training and education?

Is the employer supportive of training and education?  Does the employer sit down with employees to discuss career plans, training opportunities, developmental opportunities and other skill enhancing opportunities?  Is this a check the box or a real intention to enhance skills? Is there is a written plan that has been discussed with the employee? Do the employer and the employee both buy into the plan.  Is it really doable?


Employees are individuals


The negotiation needs to be tailored to the employee(s) given individual interests.

Professional development, personal life circumstances, available funding, timing within the corporate business cycle and other factors may impact a solution.  Consider the economic, social and environmental concerns from both the employer and employee perspective.  Take the time to listen and learn about the employee’s concerns. Focusing on win win alternatives based on interests. Work with employees to develop individual development plans that are real.  This will enhance employee engagement and employee satisfaction. 

Would you like to learn more about this subject?  Check out this link from the Harvard Program on Negotiation at the Harvard Law School.


About the author


Mike Gregory is an expert in the application of The Collaboration Effect ® to enhance relationships, resources and revenues. Mike is an international speaker. He has written 11 books including Business Valuations and the IRS: Five Books in One, The Servant Manager and Peaceful Resolutions. Mike may be contacted directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]