Ten Principles for an Employee Bill of Rights
Employees need a global bill of rights. Why? Companies worldwide have battered and taken advantage of them. Who is standing up for employees? What protection do employees really have? Yes, governments pass laws to help. European countries do a better job. Unions are on the decline. However, organizations always find the loopholes. Most companies have statements of ethics or teamwork in their employee handbooks.
The truth is a boss can fire someone at will. If the boss does not like you, there are no promotions. If the boss lacks leadership skills–as too many do–employees are in a tough spot. Human resource leaders are more like cops looking for those breaking the rules rather than employee champions. With employee disengagement and disenchantment over 80% globally, we need profound change. The Great Resignation and Quit are symptoms of the problem. (See my post: The Foreshadowing and Manifestation of an Employee Apocalypse)
Here are the seven fundamental reasons for CHANGE. These results below do not inspire employees. They increase poor morale, productivity, innovation, and customer service. Here is the problem: (it is far worse in underdeveloped countries)
- As mentioned, poor employee engagement.
- Leadership distrust is rampant. And, 82% of managers fail.
- Declining employee benefits.
- Pay increases that do not keep pace with executives’ increases or inflation. Meanwhile, company profits have soared and they have record breaking levels of cash-in the US- on hand of approximately $6 trillion.
- Workplace bullying is an epidemic. Sexual harassment persists and still a huge problem.
- Fewer gains in the customer’s experience the last twenty years. This is a similar trend worldwide.
- The rise of corporate fraud.
Why an Employee Bill of Rights?
Quite frankly, too many companies do not respect employees as valued partners. Who in their right mind would say that corporations, with all the symptoms listed above, really care about their employees? How many friends or relatives have a story about a bad boss? All companies did not generously offer up equal opportunity, a harassment-free workplace or fairness to people with disabilities. As history proves protests and strikes led to the legislation and corporate change.
My brother-in-law worked for a company about two years. He did an outstanding job and received a promotion to lead supervisor. He did excellent quality work and brought up ideas for improvement. Therefore, his performance evaluations were excellent. When business slowed down, he and others were laid off. Since that time, this company has expanded and built an additional building. They really fired him because of his experience and therefore he had a higher hourly rate. In addition, he was too honest for them. He would hold up projects for inferior quality, and willing raised ideas to make things better. This treatment of an exemplary employee is not right. Without a union he had no recourse, except a lawsuit which he could not afford.
Certainly, there are excellent organizations. And executives who are enlightened, service focused, and truly embrace that concept of an exemplary employee experience and engagement. For example, see Fortunes Top 100 Companies. They are the role models. Sadly, most companies must improve.
10 Principles for an Employee Bill of Rights
Years ago, I created a CEO Scorecard related to creating a humane workplace. It is published in the post: Redux: Why Many CEOs Should be Fired or Reprimanded. Not surprisingly some took offense. One executive took issue with the post and wrote “…where the labor is so primitive and replaceable that you cannot justify paying much above the minimum wage. No amount of team-building and conflict resolution will earn these employees’ hearts and minds.” An attitude like this is precisely why employees need more protection. This elitist view is more pervasive than we want to know.
Leadership is about people, not the paycheck. It is not about profit but possibilities. When employers view employees as “primitive and replaceable”, no wonder they are not spirited patriots or engaged. Eventually people rebel against abuse and tyranny.
- The right of be related to with respect, dignity, honesty, courtesy, and as a valued partner. (I know leaders who will not speak to an employee in the hallway or plant.)
- The right to work for a fair, equal, and living wage that keeps pace with executive pay increases.
- The right of an equal opportunity to succeed based on their performance not discriminated against because of politics, nationality, race, age, disability, or gender.
- The right of good working conditions where safety is paramount, teamwork is the norm, harassment of any kind s not tolerated, and employees have the appropriate tools and resources to do an excellent job.
- The right of regular and constructive communication from their boss and the company. In this way, they know the company’s performance, their boss’s expectations, and their own progress.
- The right of recognition and praise for a job well done.
- The right to comprehensive benefits, including health care and a retirement package, regardless of their status.
- The right to keep learning through on-going training and education so they can do an even better job or advance in their career.
- The right to work/life balance.
- The right to a fair impartial grievance process if there are problems or issues on the job.
Great leaders and companies do the above and more. Executives and managers can learn but they need the training and coaching to do that. However, it is often an issue of personal values.
Pulling It All Together
Former President Bill Clinton said, “This century will be remembered as a time when millions of working men and women fought for and won basic freedoms too long denied them—the right to safe workplaces; the freedom to organize; the ability to put an end to abusive child labor; the right to have health insurance and retirement benefits and to earn a decent wage for labor.”
We are far from realizing the thoughts of that quote. Unless companies adopt principles like those above, I believe we will have significant labor problems for both blue-and white-collar workers in the decades ahead. These labor conflicts will dwarf the challenges of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. And the current Great Resignation and Quit.
Governments should collaborate aggressively to prepare employees for the economies of the future. Executives and managers who take initiative and lead in ways indicative of the above (Servant Leadership) will advance quickly. With disrupted economies and sectarian violence so widespread, labor trouble is brewing around the world. If companies treated employees as partners and not pawns, labor unrest is preventable. In summary, employees need protection and a Bill of Rights because it is the right thing to do–to lead with integrity and honor not selfishness and greed. Furthermore, treating people right leads to greater business results, a fact that so many poor leaders cannot seem to comprehend.
What do you think about an Employee Bill of Rights? Please share your thoughts…
Also, do you want to help lead the change of leadership practice and thought to elevate “People First”? See our page ServantLeadership@RickConlowInternational.
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