Every Day May Be Labor Day At The NLRB But…
Posted 09.05.11
Jonathan A. Segal

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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Maximize business and social inclusion.  We need to go beyond the legal imperative and harness the diverse talent that exists in our workplaces.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Provide honest and regular information about the business.  If we want our employees to be business partners, we must treat them as such.

7. 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.

This blog should not be treated as legal advice, as pertaining to specific factual situations or establishing an attorney-client relationship.

About Jonathan A. Segal
Jonathan A. Segal is a partner at Duane Morris LLP in the Employment Group. He is also the managing principal of the Duane Morris Institute. The Duane Morris Institute provides training for human resource professionals, in-house counsel, and other leaders at client sites and by way of webinar on myriad employment, leadership labor, benefits and immigration topics. Jonathan has served intermittently as a consultant to the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years, providing training on employment issues to federal judges around the country. Jonathan also has provided training on harassment on behalf of the EEOC as well as providing training on diversity to members of the United States intelligence agencies. Jonathan is also frequently a featured speaker at national, state and local human resource, business and legal conferences, including conferences sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Pennsylvania State Chamber of Business and Industry. Jonathan’s practice focuses on maximizing compliance and minimizing legal risk. Jonathan’s particular areas of emphasis include: equal employment opportunity in general and gender equality in particular: social media; wage and hour; performance management; talent acquisition; harassment prevention and correction; and non-competes and other ways to protect your business. You can find him on Twitter @Jonathan_HR_Law .