Mutiny on the Campus!

What should an HR Department do, when employees revolt against the organization?

This is a question that the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus, has to consider! As reported by CBC on March 29, 2016, 62% of the UBC Faculty Association Members have “no confidence” in the UBC Board of Directors. This news story should put every HR department on high alert.

Click Here to Read the Article.

What does a motion of non-confidence really mean, anyway?  A vote of non-confidence means one party believes the other party is “not fit to hold that position.” So 62% of the UBC Faculty is saying that the Board of Directors is not fit to provide strategic leadership nor to run the operations of the university. In reality, the vote of non-confidence has no legal binding power but it does send the significant message that the HR department should be very concerned.

This is not the forum to discuss the specifics of the UBC case; however, the case open the opportunity to discuss what an HR department should do if a majority of employees uses their collective voice to deliver a message of opposition to the organizational as a whole. In essence, what should you do if your employees verbally revolt against a company’s decision, policy or direction? How should HR respond?

  • Does HR ignore the complaint?
  • Does HR try to compromise with employees?
  • Does HR negotiate with the employees?
  • Does HR terminate the employees?

What is the best way to respond?

All of the current research states that Human Resources must move from transactional to strategic actions and one of the most beneficial strategic tools to use is organizational environmental scanning.  Many organizations do a very thorough job of external environmental scanning; however, few organizations do a very comprehensive job of conducting internal environmental scans.

Having a sound understanding of the pulse of your employee’s voices is a requirement in today’s organizations.  If the organization is not listening to those voices, it is far too easy for employees to find an external outlet that will listen to their positive or negative collected voice in public.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Imagine you are working for a HR consulting firm and UBC has asked you to provide advice on how to respond to this vote of employee non-confidence. What advice would you give to UBC?  As a starting point UBC has asked you specifically to address what would happen if they chose the following actions?
    • Ignore the non-confidence vote
    • Seek a compromise
    • Negotiate with the UBC Faculty Association
    • Termination of the employees that voted against their employer