Employment and Jobs

The Shared Power Advantage: How to build a thriving company where workers have a seat at the table

March 26, 2024  • Aspen Business Roundtable on Organized Labor & Charter


In 2023, business leaders across industries contended with a broad call for more responsive, democratic workplaces, exemplified by a resurgent labor movement. Nearly half a million workers withheld their labor in 354 strikes in just the first 10 months of the year—roughly four times as many as went on strike over the same time frame  in 2022—and the number of petitions for union representation has continually increased over the past two years. Employees have also demanded a greater say in the workplace beyond unionization, challenging leaders to build more ethical and humane workplaces on issues as diverse as compensation, hiring, paid leave, social and political issues, and the return to office.

The message is clear: Working people want more power over the terms and conditions of their work. Instead of viewing this shift as a threat or incursion, enlightened employers will find the opportunity in it. The same mechanisms that make a workplace more democratic, collaborative, and fair also can support and expand existing company priorities, from improving products and adopting new technologies to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. While some business leaders have opted for the same tired tactics to undermine worker empowerment in favor of top-down control, a raft of innovations in worker voice, worker representation, and collaborations with labor unions offer an alternative path forward.

To help organizations apply these ideas, the Aspen Business Roundtable on Organized Labor and Charter, a media company focused on the future of work, have partnered to produce “The Shared Power Advantage: How to build a thriving company where workers have a seat at the table.” The playbook includes strategies for leaders hoping to strengthen their workplaces by empowering their employees, including:

  • Employee representatives on corporate boards
  • Forms of worker ownership, combined with a culture of ownership that allows employees to weigh in on important issues.
  • Responses to labor organizing that affirm and protect workers’ right to organize, including organization-wide labor principles, neutrality agreements, voluntary recognition, and strategies for negotiating first contracts
  • Strategies to maintain collaborative and trusting relationships with labor unions, including labor-management committees, long-term shared projects outside of the scope of bargaining contracts, and accountability measures