Even a European Works Council needs a good story

Human beings are born storytellers.

Whenever we wanted to remember something, the best way has always been to make sure that there is an appealing story behind it.

Think about this for a moment and you will find many examples. History is replete with tales and myths which enabled people to rally around a common cause and to find the passion to spread the word.

I want to talk about the story behind your European Works Council.

We all know what is the legal basis behind EWCs: there is the EWC Directive and the EWC agreement which was negotiated between parties at corporate level.

But do people talk about what your EWC is doing and do they really know what it is all about?

We find that this is only too seldom the case and that the EWC is very often next to invisible within the organisation.

What is lacking is a story about the value of what the forum is doing and about how the EWC is relevant to all employees and to management within the organisation.

A good place to start is to ask your EWC members a few important questions that point beyond the letter of the EWC agreement to a sense of purpose that can easily be communicated throughout all layers and to all geographies of the organisation.

Questions like:

What are we about as a European Works Council?
What is our identity within our organisation?
Why would the employees be interested in us?
Why would management take us seriously as a body?
Where do we make a difference (compared to other bodies at the national or at the local level)?
What value do we add to the company?

These questions will ignite the spark of reflection in your group and the answers will lead you to the foundations of your EWC story.

This exercise allows every EWC member to provide their own answers to the questions and to come up with their version of the story of your European Works Council, looking back from a future moment in time, preferably 3 to 5 years ahead of the current moment. We want people to "flesh out" their ideal EWC as if it already existed so that others can point out what is needed to get there and where there are possible hurdles. People figure it out on their own and write down everything they would like the European Works Council to be about and then tell their story during the plenary session.

After this initial crafting session, the group should split up in smaller working groups so as to bring all remarks and points from the plenary session together and to try to find solutions to the problems that were unearthed.

But before, our trainers will provide them with another set of valuable tools that date back to antiquity.

Artistotle discovered more than 2000 years ago that for a story to be really heard, it should have 3 essential features: ethos, pathos and logos.

European Works Council can also benefit from this:

Ethos: how do they employees, management etc... see your EWC? In other words, how can you create the reputation that you want within the organisation?

Pathos: what will make your constituents passionate about your EWC? Any person or organisation that wants to make a lasting impact needs to appeal to people's emotions and not only to their logic.

Logos: what rational arguments will convince people of the value of your EWC?

By appealing to reason, emotion and by making sure the EWC narrative creates the reputation that you want, the impact of your European Works Council will be a lot bigger!

Next, the working groups should try to agree on a common story to be presented as a group to the plenary session. You will see that at this stage, new avenues of thought will open up as we are gradually working towards bringing it all together in one grand EWC narrative.

After the working groups have presented their version of the EWC story, the full group should then try to agree on a joint draft which will later be written out for final revision and editing.

At this stage, it is a good  idea to revert back to the questions from the beginning in order to see whether nothing has been forgotten or left out.

The next steps will be about telling the EWC story in a persuasive way as a story that nobody knows or tells will have a very short lifespan.

In one of our next posts, we will talk about how to make sure that your story is not only heard but remembered; in other words: how to make it stick.

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