The results of a new Workplace Democracy Associaton/Zogby
Interactive survey have been released just in time for Independence Day. Twenty five percent of Americans described
their workplace as a dictatorship. Only
34% think that their boss reacts well to criticism.
like an absolute ruler? Only 46% of
working Americans said their workplace promotes creative or inventive
ideas. Democratic practices at work can
improve outcomes according to 80% of respondents who said that they work better
when they have freedom to decide how to do their work. Should the workplace be the model of democracy? I don’t think so. There are some democratic
principals that need to be checked at the employee entrance. Free speech doesn’t work at work when it
creates a hostile environment. Privacy
rights are also suspended when it comes to company documents and use of
electronic communication. What goes on
the company server is company property.
Dress codes are perfectly acceptable even if they stifle free
departments. I had a group of employees
come to me once in my capacity as HR Director. They described a particular
employee as not pulling their weight.
They had taken a vote and decided he should be fired. I explained the process for performance
management and also told them that I hoped the next vote was not to oust the HR
Director. Implementing democracy in the workplace is a balancing
act. Involved engaged employees are
certainly more productive and more likely to stay. Keeping employees informed about company
results, activities and initiatives improves performance. Employee rights must mesh
with responsibilities to other employees, managers, owners, customers and
ultimately the results the organization needs to achieve.