If Employees Are Unhappy With Politicians, Does That Make Them Mad At the Company?

One of my partners and I discussed what the results of yesterday’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll might tell us about worker attitudes. NBC News pointed out that President Obama’s approval rating was at its lowest point.

The more troubling results of the poll were that 60% of Americans are dissatisfied with the state of the economy, and a whopping 70% said that, they believe that

“the Country is headed in the wrong direction.”

Nearly 80% stated that they were “down on the country’s political system.” Both parties may see political advantage in these numbers. However, any way one spins these numbers, they are not good for the Country.

The poll apparently did not ask employees what they thought about their employers. It would be interesting to see if there is a correlation between respondents who are frustrated with the Country’s political process, and those that are dissatisfied with their workplace. I suspect that a correlation exists. Would the employee who generally believes that the country is headed in the wrong direction decide that the workplace needs change … maybe more regulation or a union? Probably.

Much has been written about the end of the workplace Social Contract. Many employees believe that the 1950’s era Informal agreement that a company would take care of you if you did a good job has been forever breached.

The Occupy Wall Street Movement and its offspring, such as the attacks on fast food restaurants and efforts to legislate a “fair wage,” show that many employees are dissatisfied with our economic model.

One conclusion from the polls is that employers should not continue to engage in “business as usual.” Even before the Great Recession, employee productivity was on the rise and employees were doing more with less. Many managers are so busy that they do not think about their more vague duties to communicate with and respond to employee concerns.

Mix dissatisfied workers with over extended managers and you get conflict in the form of lawsuits, complaints to the government, and interest in unions.

And let’s talk about unions. Organized labor has become such an insignificant portion of the non-government sector that many employees know little about unions. Employees may not even know friends and family members who are in a union and their personal experiences. Among other things, this lack of familiarity may breed ignorance about legal and practical challenges presented by a union.

 It read employee handbook?   Even more importantly, has the employer taken steps to make a union unnecessary?

I don’t know if these dismal polling numbers will translate to employee legal claims. Perhaps the so-called “summer of discontent” will only affect the political process. Nevertheless, the wise employer should use these polling results as a motivation to train managers and supervisors to better communicate with their employees and to respond to employee concerns.

About mavity2012

I am a Senior Partner operating out of the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP, one of the Nation’s oldest and largest management employment and labor firms. My practice is national and keeps me on the road or in one of our 28 offices about 50 percent of the time. I created and co-chair the Firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. I have almost 29 years of experience as a labor lawyer, but rely even more heavily on the experience I gained in working in my family's various businesses, and through dealing with practical client issues. Employers tell me that they seldom meet an attorney who delivers on his promise to provide practical guidance and to be a business partner. As a result, some executives probably use different terms than “practical” to describe my fellow travelers in the profession. I don't enjoy the luxury of being impractical because I spend much of my time on shop floors and construction sites dealing with safety, union and related issues which are driven by real world processes and the need to protect and get the most out of one's most important business assets ... its employees. That's one of the reasons that I view safety compliance as a way to also manage problem employees, reduce litigation and develop the type of work environment that makes unions unnecessary. Starting out dealing with union-management challenges and a stint in the NLRB have better equipped me to see the interrelationship of legal and workplace factors. I am proud also of my experience at Fisher & Phillips, where providing “practical advice” is second only to legal excellence among the Firm’s values. Our website lists me as having provided counsel for over 225 occasions of union activity, guided unionized companies, and as having managed approximately 450 OSHA fatality cases in construction and general industry, ranging from dust explosions to building collapses, in virtually every state. I have coordinated complex inspections involving multi-employer sites, corporate-wide compliance, and issues involving criminal referral. As a full labor lawyer, I oversee audits of corporate labor, HR, and safety compliance. I have responded to virtually every type of day-to-day workplace inquiry, and have handled cases before the EEOC, OFCCP, NLRB, and numerous other state and federal agencies. At F & P, all of us seek to spot issues and then rely upon attorneys in the Firm who concentrate on those areas. No tunnel vision. I teach or speak around 50 times per year to business associations, bar and professional groups, and to individual businesses. I serve on safety committees at three states’ AGC Chapters, teach at the AGC ASMTC
This entry was posted in cultural changes, management and leadership, managing legal matters, Uncategorized, whistleblower/retaliation. Bookmark the permalink.

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