by Mike Guglielmo and Luke Bellos

In the next installment of our Leadership blog series, David Bax JD, Founder of Labor Strategy Partners and seasoned professional with a rich background in labor and employee relations, shares profound insights into the challenges and opportunities within this space. His journey from practicing attorney to consultant in labor relations, and his subsequent involvement with technology startups, has provided him with a unique perspective on the transformation within a variety of workplaces. This article delves into his experiences, focusing on the critical aspects of culture, leadership accountability, and the strategic implementation of technology in managing employee relations. We are proud to call David a strategic partner at Spring International as well.  Check out his story and his work below.

The Genesis of Transformation

David’s transition from practicing law to consulting in labor and employee relations marks the beginning of his story. This shift was more than just a career move; it was a step toward deeper understanding of corporate culture and its impact on employee relations. With nearly two decades in the consulting realm, David has observed firsthand the difficulties organizations encounter in fostering a positive workplace culture and maintaining smooth labor relations.

Accountability in Culture

David notes that corporate culture significantly lacks systematic accountability, especially compared to areas like finance and operations. This inconsistency often results in a gap between the ideals of workplace culture and its practical application. Despite having training and recruitment processes in place, the absence of consistent leadership accountability measures for culture leads to shortcomings in achieving a truly engaging and productive work environment. He observes, “Most organizations run some employee surveys, like engagement or exit surveys, but these aren’t frequent enough. Annual reviews are important, but inadequate for sustaining momentum in enhancing workplace culture.”

The Role of Technology and Data

David’s stint with technology startups introduced him to the crucial role of data in decision-making. This experience was pivotal in shaping his approach to labor and employee relations, highlighting the importance of data-driven strategies. His expertise in data analytics and experience in labor relations have made him an advocate for a more analytical and objective approach to ensuring leadership accountability regarding workplace culture and employee relations,

Proactive vs. Reactive Approaches

David emphasizes proactive management of labor relations. He critiques the common reactive approach, where organizations only address issues when facing external pressures such as union threats or employee discontent. David advocates for continuous engagement and monitoring through regular employee surveys and other feedback mechanisms to preemptively tackle potential issues. He often draws an analogy to personal health to illustrate his point: “Wellness is straightforward, though not easy: monitor your diet, exercise regularly, and track your progress. Yet, human nature frequently leads us to respond only to crises. We often neglect ongoing wellness until a crisis, like a heart attack, forces us to drastically alter our habits.”

The Power of Simplicity

One of the most compelling elements of David’s approach is his advocacy for simplicity in strategy and execution. He believes in identifying a few key metrics unique to your organization and focusing intently on those to improve culture, better develop leaders and foster more positive employee relations. This method not only clarifies the process of managing labor relations but also makes it achievable for organizations of all sizes. He simplifies the approach further, stating, “There’s less need for a broad set of interviews or group training; leveraging data objectively guides clients to areas in greatest need of coaching specific to that leader or location.” He frequently recalls a principle from Jim Collins book Good to Great on business success, which asserts, “Just a handful of metrics, if regularly monitored, can guide improvement.”

Practical Insights

David enriches his narrative with personal anecdotes and practical insights from his consulting experience. For example, he recounts a transformative experience at a healthcare facility, where a minor adjustment in operational procedures led to significant improvements in employee satisfaction and operational efficiency. He stresses the importance of detailed insights, explaining, “Understanding and directly addressing where problems lie within a large organization, such as a hospital with thousands of employees, can often prevent more extensive issues.”

David Bax’s journey and insights are an emphatic call for organizations to embrace a more strategic, data-enhanced, and proactive approach to managing labor relations and corporate culture. As the corporate world continues to navigate the complexities of labor relations and culture, David’s perspectives provide valuable lessons on the importance of leadership, strategy, and data in shaping the future of work.

At Spring, we truly value our strategic partners and are thrilled that David contributes his knowledge, skills and experience to our team and our clients. Email [email protected] for more information about Spring International’s full suite of services, and learn how people analytics can benefit your organization.