Defence and government

The importance of listening to your workforce

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If you live in London, you may have been dreading this week as the news reported of an impending a double Underground strike. For anyone reading this who doesn’t live in London, let me give you a little bit of context: the TFL announced that from September on, a new 24-hour tube service would be available on weekends, on certain lines. Sounds great, no? London is a busy city, that’s always on the go and its people will all benefit from this.

Defence and government

So why the tube strikes, then? Surely 24-hour trains would be great for everyone? Wrong.

The train drivers have been for the last couple of months going on strike not necessarily because they oppose the 24-hour service per se, or just because they’re asking their employer for more money to make the change in the change in their work/ life balance… it is also because they never were heard in this process. This might be an oversimplification, as there will be more issues they need addressing, but it’s certainly a detail that is evident from what one can read in the news.

One tube driver told the Guardian:

Drivers work unsociable hours. They can be working three out of four weekends and almost every bank holiday and have been doing so for many years. For managers to come along and say we are introducing a night tube and not consult the drivers and station staff and enforce a new working pattern on them without consulting them is unethical.

In an employee engagement point of view, it is the perfect example of how things can go wrong in a business when changes are introduced, with no level of discussion or consultation.

To simplify, because TFL doesn’t listen to their workers, the whole of London and all its commuters are being held ransom and facing major disruption in their working lives, costing businesses £600m in cancelled meetings and absenteeism. As we can see, the consequences of this don’t just affect the TFL as a company itself but it affects the whole of the economy.

We can all (for now) breathe a sigh of relief as the strike has been postponed until September. In the meantime, we would suggest that TFL try and use an idea management platform, such as Idea Spotlight, to listen and engage their employees. Other transport companies such as Abellio and Go-Ahead are already doing it with success, so really there isn’t any reason not to.

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