On this Labor Day, it is tempting to rail against the NLRB. The reality is that, at the NLRB, every day is labor day.
While employers have good reason to be concerned about the NLRB, employers cannot forget how important our employees are to our success. As the New York Times accurately noted yesterday, without engaged employees, an employer is less successful economically. Happier people do work harder!
Management plays a critical role in helping to create an environment in which employees feel good about their employer and can make a meaningful contribution. The failure of management to meet the reasonable expectations of employees may result in employees being less dedicated, looking at other places to work, bringing claims they otherwise would not bring or seeking the support of a union.
At a very minimum, management should:
- Provide regular and sincere recognition and appreciation. I firmly believe that, in most workplaces, approximately 85% of the employees do a good job but we spend 85% of our time on the other 15%. We need to re-calibrate the balance as much as we reasonably can.
- Treat employees consistently where the circumstances are the same or substantially similar. But fairness and consistency are not always the same and managers and supervisors need training on that issue. Sameness does not always equal fairness.
- Maximize business and social inclusion. We need to go beyond the legal imperative and harness the diverse talent that exists in our workplaces.
- Avoid engaging in and respond proactively to abusive and demeaning behavior, whether or not unlawful. Being an equal opportunity abuser hardly makes one an employer of choice.
- Help employees solve workplace problems. Respond to those who raise them. Ask those who don't. Some of your best employees will suffer in silence because they hear the incessant carping of a small few and don't want to be seen as like them.
- Provide honest and regular information about the business. If we want our employees to be business partners, we must treat them as such.
- Treat employees with dignity and respect.
These are but 7 of the 20 some expectations that I recommend that employers expect of their managers and supervisors.
The last may be the most important of all, because it is assaults on dignity and respect that often provide the catalyst for union organizing, litigation and other adversarial situations.
Poor performers don't deserve continued employment. But every employee deserves to be treated with dignity and respect from their first day to their last....employers who forget that are often reminded the hard way.