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HR tip: Phone strike as employees refuse to answer phones to protest pay

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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.


Question:

"A group of our employees is refusing to answer the telephone in an attempt to force us to increase the level of a pay offer. Answering the phone is part of their job so this is highly inconvenient. How should we react?"

HR tip:

My instinctive initial comment is to say "keep talking" since positions that harden take a much longer time to soften. However, if your employees insist on their disruptive action, calculate as best you can the reduction in their value to you resulting from the action.

For example, if they use the phone only occasionally their value may drop by 5% but if they frequently phone customers the loss may be, say, 80%. Then give the people concerned clear warning and sufficient notice to consider it – say until the following day – that if they persist in their action you will reduce their pay by that amount from then on and until they resume normal working. This is likely to result in either of two forms of reaction – they will cave in and hate you and be demotivated, or they will go out on strike. I am happy to give you these scenarios but strongly urge you to use persuasion.

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