Why Good #HR Leaders Aren't Worried About the NLRB "Joint Employer" Decision

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, August 31, 2015

Last week, the NLRB ruled in a 3-2 decision that "two or more entities are joint employers of a single workforce if (1) they are both employers within the meaning of the common law;  and (2) they share or codetermine those matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment."  

As a result of this decision, there was much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands among my HR colleagues.   This, they say, will make it easier for unions to bargain for better pay and working conditions.

Here's the thing - unions don't exist in a vacuum.  They arise out of dissatisfaction with compensation and mistreatment by the organization.  If you're practicing quality HR, worrying about "ambush elections" or joint employer status shouldn't and doesn't matter. 

Think about the following questions:
  • When the firm is successful, are employees rewarded for their hard work and contributions to those organizational goals that are reached?
  • Are you hiring co-workers/peers with whom other employees want as part of their team?
  • Are you investing in the professional and career development of employees?
  • Is the job designed so that employees are able to use a variety of skills and abilities?
  • Is an employee able to complete a job from beginning to end?
  • Does the job an employee performs have an impact on others?
  • Does the employee have the necessary tools and resources to complete his or her job?
  • Are performance goals for an employee based on factors within the employee's control?
  • Does an employee have autonomy over when and how the work that is performed?
  • Are organizational decisions made transparently?
  • Are employees given quality feedback regarding the work they perform?
  • Are efforts made to put employees in a position to succeed?
  • Are efforts made to identify and remove bad bosses from positions of influence?

Individuals want to partner with an organization and succeed on the job with relatively little hassle.

Individuals don't wake up one morning and want to suddenly unionize.  They are unfortunately often given significant reason to do so, despite the many structural barriers in place.

Successful HR managers are the ones answering many of the questions above affirmatively.  As a result, they are not sweating the most recent NLRB decision.


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