Employee Experience

How Labor Unions Facilitate Employee Engagement: Advantages & Disadvantages

5 Mins read

Labor unions are organizations to represent workers’ rights and preferences. In general, providing better work conditions, higher wages, and other working benefits is the core of labor unions’ work.

But, how do labor unions facilitate employee engagement, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of such organizations?

Keep reading this article to get more interesting insights.

Labor Unions Advantages

Fewer work hours

Generally speaking, labor unions frequently work to enhance employees’ working circumstances. Also, included in this is a reduction in the weekly workweek hours.

Our ancestors used to put in a lot of overtime since no organizations shielded them from exploitation at the time. However, in today’s society, labor unions can negotiate severe limits on the number of hours that can be worked. This is quite advantageous to employees since they will have more free time and time to spend with their children.

Higher pay and promotion opportunities

One significant benefit of labor unions is that they are able to negotiate greater wages and raises than individuals. Therefore, the likelihood is that you will eventually receive a respectable salary if you belong to a union. This is particularly true for industry sectors where wages are often quite low. Labor unions can significantly impact these industries by negotiating better salaries.

Advantages for employee’s families

Better working conditions for employees are not the only thing that labor unions may achieve. Employee’s families may also gain significant advantages. Better social security or health insurance are two examples of this. It can also entail enrolling the family in a kindergarten so that the parents concentrate on the work. As a result, in addition to the worker’s financial gains from joining a union, there may also be various benefits for the worker’s entire family.

Protection for employees

Concerning employee safety, trade unions have high criteria. For instance, when working in fields that may involve significant risks, there must be a minimum level of safety. Labor unions may bargain for safety standards that are much higher than the bare minimum requirements mandated by law in such industries. Thus, joining a union might make a lot of sense from a safety standpoint as well. As a result, in addition to the worker’s financial gains from joining a union, there may also be various benefits for the worker’s entire family.

Mental health issues prevention

Many people experience considerable stress at work, which may also contribute to the emergence of mental health problems. This can be because of the long hours or because the working conditions are so-so in some businesses. By enacting employee protection measures that seek to lower employees’ stress levels to prevent mental issues, trade unions may be able to somewhat offset this problem.

Unions can put more pressure on entire industries

Unions can put more pressure on entire industries or even across industries because they are quite highly organized. For instance, businesses in other industrial branches may be compelled to offer their employees similar perks if a labor union secures particular benefits for workers in one area, as they fear losing their workers otherwise. Therefore, labor unions could be highly effective in influencing changes to working conditions across a wide range of businesses.

Right of striking

Employees may be guaranteed the right to strike by labor unions. Striking is still not a legally protected right in several parts of the world, and doing so might result in job loss. Labor unions are therefore crucial, especially in those sectors, as they can guarantee that employees won’t lose their jobs if they go on strike to improve their working conditions.

Increased job security

The goal of trade unions is frequently to create as many jobs as they can. For instance, some businesses may have plans to fire employees and replace them with machines. However, employers and labor unions may agree to strict standards that, in some circumstances, would preclude employers from terminating employees. Labor unions can therefore guarantee greater job security for a large number of people.

These are just some of the advantages that arise as a result of labor unions that result in stronger employee engagement – due to the protection of their interests and promotion of their preferences.

Labor Unions Disadvantages

Firing employees can be challenging

The standards and procedures for layoffs might just be too high, making it difficult for businesses to get rid of undesirable employees. For instance, if a worker has been with a company for a long time and suddenly his performance suffers from a lack of motivation or other problems, it’s likely that the company won’t be able to fire him or her because of agreements with labor unions that might prevent this due to the worker’s seniority. As a result, businesses may find it difficult to protect themselves against employees who attempt to take advantage of them over time.

Labor Unions Driver

Decreased firm flexibility

Additionally, labor unions frequently limit how flexible businesses may be. This could imply that businesses won’t be able to fire employees or that they’ll also need to spend money on costly initiatives to enhance working conditions. All of those factors could limit the degree of freedom enjoyed by businesses and reduce their ability to compete. Since some countries have quite poor working conditions and businesses in those countries will be able to gain a competitive advantage over businesses that were forced into quite strict working conditions with labor unions, this will be especially true for markets with high levels of global competition.

Employee cooperation might suffer

If labor unions negotiated the framework with companies, there might be a lot of tension between employees because hard-working employees will grow increasingly frustrated over time because their efforts won’t be rewarded sufficiently. This is because good work is frequently not rewarded adequately.

Pricing rises

As a result of labor union involvement, salaries frequently rise, and businesses frequently respond to this rise in labor expenses by raising product prices.
The general population may suffer as a result since they will be able to purchase fewer material products as a result of the price increase. Therefore, even while labor unions may benefit some workers, other people may suffer as a result of rising prices.

The effectiveness of union negotiations determines the outcome

The ability of union leaders to negotiate is a key factor in determining whether labor unions are advantageous for workers. If those union leaders have a lot of negotiation expertise, they should be able to secure favorable terms for workers. However, there’s a good risk that the consequences for employees will be very subpar if those union officials don’t have enough experience in the relevant sector.

The organization can lose talented employees

Additionally, there is a chance that highly motivated employees who produce high-quality work may eventually leave the company. This comes, if they believe that labor union initiatives would prevent their efforts from being rewarded. Consider the scenario where you work for a corporation and your performance consistently outperforms those of the majority of your coworkers. However, everyone receives raises that are almost equal in value.


The overall quality of life for many employees may be improved by labor unions since they may be able to improve working conditions in various industries and increase overall employee engagement.

Trade unions, however, are also subject to a variety of problems.

The genuine impact of labor union engagements can significantly vary depending on the industry and the existing working conditions, and until something to the contrary is demonstrated, it is frequently unclear whether labor unions make sense.

Further Reading

End of Year Rewards: 10 Best Non-Monetary Rewards for Employees
Workation: An Anti-Burnout Employee Benefit
State of EX Report: 70% of Organizations Lack Adequate EX Data as Attrition and “Quiet Quitting” Continue to Rise

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About author
Fatjona Gërguri is the content writer for Employee Experience Magazine, covering the relevant topics about employee experience, organizational culture and general HR topics.
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