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Trusting collaboration with the works council

5 min read

Let's be honest: working with the works council is not always easy. In some companies, the fronts are downright hardened. Of course, both parties naturally have different interests - so constructive collaboration between the employer and the works council is anything but a given. What is often overlooked is that a trusting collaboration also brings many advantages for the company. Cooperation rather than competition is therefore on the agenda. You know the situation and are wondering how? We'll give you 5 tips on how you can optimise collaboration with the works council in your company - and show you how a collaboration tool can support you in doing so.

What obligations do employers and works councils have?

The duties of the employer and works council are regulated in the Works Constitution Act. It states that both sides should work together in a spirit of trust for the benefit of the employees and the company. To ensure this, you as the management are obliged, among other things, to inform the works council comprehensively and in good time about planned measures. You must seriously consider proposals and suggestions from the works council.

The works council, on the other hand, must treat the information it receives from you, e.g. personal data, confidentially. It is not allowed to stir up a mood among employees against the employer and must always consider the good of the company when making decisions.

The law provides for (at least) a monthly meeting, where both parties should discuss current conflicts or measures.

5 tips for trusting collaboration

Tip 1: Respectful behaviour
Respectful behaviour lays the foundation for a relationship of trust between the two parties. Therefore, respect the role of your counterpart. Insults or forcing promises or similar are taboo. Instead, show appreciation for the work of the works council and take them seriously as partners.

Tip 2: Clear communication
Sensitive company or personal data is often exchanged in the collaboration between the employer and the works council. This data should never fall into the hands of unauthorised third parties. Therefore, determine which data may be transmitted via which communication channels. A collaboration tool such as Stackfield makes it easier for you to exchange data securely. (If Stackfield is already in use, a separate area - room or organisation - can also be created for it so that communication with the works council can take place separately from day-to-day work).
Pay attention to clear communication in personal conversations too. You can draw up a code of conduct together that sets out the do's and don'ts when dealing with conflicts, for example.

Tip 3: Regular exchange
A lack of or delayed information is a burden on cooperation. So, arrange fixed dates (at least the monthly meeting) to exchange relevant information in person. Make sure that both sides have their say and can express their wishes and concerns.
In addition to the monthly meeting, a joint working group with members of the works council, management and any other responsible persons is a good idea for more extensive measures or operational changes. Here you can clarify any uncertainties and work out solutions together.

Tip 4: Openness and transparency
Talk to each other instead of about each other. In this way, you maintain a respectful relationship with each other. This prevents misunderstandings and conflicts. Be open to other points of view and genuinely try to understand the works council's point of view. For this to work, everyone involved must be able to disclose their motives and justify decisions at all times.

Tip 5: Show an ability to take criticism
Mistakes are unavoidable - the decisive factor is how they are dealt with. After all, not every decision or measure taken will turn out to be correct in retrospect. Instead of blocking out criticism, be open to it from the other side and show your willingness to accept suggestions for improvement.

How can a collaboration tool optimise cooperation?

Communication is the key to success in the cooperation between the management and the works council. You should pay particular attention to secure communication channels. With a collaboration tool like Stackfield, which meets the highest security requirements, you can easily exchange sensitive data without the risk of unauthorised third parties gaining access. Thanks to the user and rights management on Stackfield, you can be sure that only authorised works council members can view the data you send them.

With Stackfield, you not only get a secure tool for your communication, but also a wide range of options for exchanging information - from topic-related chats and thread-based discussions to audio and video conferences. The integrated task management facilitates cross-functional collaboration through clear responsibilities and the bundling of all relevant information in one place.

Good to know: According to § 40 para. 2 of the Works Constitution Act, the works council is entitled to specialised literature and information and communication technology equipment for its daily work.

What are the benefits for the company?

Better working atmosphere
The relationship between the employer and the works council has a direct influence on the working atmosphere. Cooperation based on partnership ensures satisfied and motivated employees. Knowing that the works council not only exists on paper, but that its rights and opinions are also taken seriously, gives employees a sense of security.
As the works council supports you in social matters in particular, such as health protection or work-life balance, it contributes to a healthier and more motivated workforce.

Increasing the success of the company
If both sides pursue the same goal as partners - the well-being of the employees and the company - this can lead to successful business activities. Differences of opinion also harbour great potential - after all, the works council has good reason to disagree. Together you can work on better solutions.

Orderly cooperation
Clear rules make day-to-day cooperation easier, both for you as an employer and for employees. Permanent solutions agreed with the works council, e.g. with regard to working hours, provide both sides with a defined framework for action.
Clearly defined communication channels, for example via a collaboration tool such as Stackfield, also make communication within the company safer and more efficient.

Elimination of grievances and sources of danger
Employees who are members of the works council are well networked within the company and involved in day-to-day business. They know the workforce and know where the shoe pinches. Make use of their knowledge, as it can help to recognise problems in work processes or dissatisfaction among the workforce at an early stage. This puts you in a position to take countermeasures before serious economic consequences arise.

Conclusion: The company benefits twice over

The primary goal of trusting collaboration between management and the works council should be to develop solutions together. Stackfield can support this as a secure collaboration tool for communication, data exchange and task management. If you in addition draw the right conclusions from conflicts, they can also help to optimise collaboration instead of damaging it. If both sides cooperate harmoniously with each other, there are numerous benefits for the company, such as improved competitiveness and a good working atmosphere. This is not only reflected in a satisfied workforce, but also in the labour market. Constructive cooperation with the works council promotes the company's positive image as an attractive employer. Staff turnover in the company is lower and you can fill vacant positions with qualified personnel more quickly.

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Cristian Mudure
About the Author:
Cristian Mudure is the Founder and CEO of Stackfield. He loves digital business models and spends his spare time on the tennis court.
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