Works & Employee Council

(This is part 2; read part 1 here)

Employee consultation for consent

When looking for consent (article 27(1)), you are dealing with proposed decisions to adopt, amend or repeal several regulations. These arrangements are listed in said article. You may have to rely on taking the initiative, article 23 (3). For example, when you detect or receive signals (or even without signals, and you want to know it first hand) that something regarding the subject is not going well or if you want to know how things are going.

Items d, e, f, g and l have become particularly important since working from home became the norm since the pandemic. Training, assessment and working methods are being influenced by working from home, and people are still finding their way. The question of how many days you want to work from home is pretty straightforward, but the subject itself is much more complex and uncertain. You need to consult employees regularly to keep a finger on the pulse. The letter m is essential, now more than ever, with topics such as mental safety, #metoo and (sexual) misconduct being high on the agenda (or at least they should be). It may mean that you consult the employees and then exert pressure on the director, but it may also be, and that is what Article 27 is about, that the director will submit something for your consent. Employee consultation is, in our opinion, one of your most essential tools for fulfilling your role seriously, simply and with a solid foundation. We see more Works Councils putting consultation (dialogue) on the agenda and implementing it regularly, such as Royal HaskoningDHV.

 

Examples of questions:

Please read the accompanying draft arrangement via this link …. Do you support this arrangement? Please explain your position in favor or against it. (In the second round, they can change/finalize their position and express their support for the explanations of others or not)

Together, we want to define the criteria by which we will consider the consent. What criterion do you think is most important to set and why? (In the second round, they can support criteria that others mentioned by ranking them, and you can ask them to explain their scores)

The Works Council wants to use the attached set of criteria to consider consent. Which one is most important to you and why?

What criterion on the previous list [….] for consent do you think is missing and should be on the list?

What do you think is a (possibly surprising) risk of the proposed new arrangement for [….], and why do you believe that? (In the second round, you can ask if they have tips about the risks others have mentioned and they support and about what the organization can do to mitigate those risks)

What do you think is a (possibly surprising) positive effect of the proposed new arrangement for [….], and why do you think that? (In the second round, you can ask if they have tips about the effects others have mentioned and they support and about what the organization can do to achieve those effects)

What do you think is a smart way to monitor how the new arrangement will work for different groups within our organization?

What exactly do you expect from the Works Council regarding this proposed decision?

What is your reference point (e.g., from a previous/other organization) to assess this arrangement?

What is the impact of this arrangement on your motivation to stay with this organization for a long time and why? (You can have them choose from multiple choice answers such as ‘no effect’, ‘negative’, … and in the second round, they can learn from other people’s explanations and then determine their final position on the matter)

Do you expect this arrangement to have negative consequences for you? If so, can you indicate which one(s) in particular, and what is the basis of your expectation?

Do you expect this arrangement to have positive consequences for you? If so, can you indicate which one(s) in particular, and what is the basis of your expectation?

How do you expect this arrangement to affect your colleagues, and can you explain this?

How do you expect this arrangement to affect employee retention, and can you explain this?

How do you expect this arrangement to affect your colleagues’ involvement, and can you explain this?

How do you expect this arrangement to affect our competitive position in the labor market, and can you explain this?

How do you expect this arrangement to affect a more sustainable relationship with customers, and can you explain this?

 

Consultation & dialogue for advice (request for advice)

Thirdly, you can consult during an advisory project or for consent. You may have to deal with a process under time constraints and/or where ‘confidentiality’ is a limiting factor. This confidentiality often applies to listed organizations, but even then, an employee consultation is possible and necessary.

For most decisions, delays of weeks or months are undesirable. Subsection 2 says: “The opinion must be requested at a time such that it can have a significant impact on the decision to be taken”. But if the situation is under pressure, it is vital that you handle that pressure without compromising the quality of your employee consultation and your advice. So, you must decide quickly on what to consult about and communicate with the director, informing them that you will start and complete it in the short term. Using CircleLytics, you can conduct consultations within two days to two weeks; the results can be processed within one to a few hours, creating a document, PDF or PowerPoint presentation, regardless of the number of participants.

There are four logical moments for advice or consent consultations:

1 at the beginning of a term

2 during a term, when you are working on the draft advice, have sent more information (if you have identified that as a need) and are looking for partial support or insights

3 at the end of a term if you want to submit your draft advice to employees to get final approval or a final point from the colleagues

4 after the decision, to monitor implementation and (unexpected) effects.

 

All the questions that we have shown above are – with some adjustments – usually also useful for advisory projects.

Additional questions are:

What is your first response to hearing the proposed decision?

What is a foremost concern when hearing the proposed decision, and why?

After hearing the proposed decision, what opportunities do you see for your career with this organization?

Now that you have received more information from us (or management), what do you think about possible care: what is your greatest concern and why?

Now that you have received more information from us (or management), how do you think about the positive impact/opportunities: what do you think is the greatest (positive) opportunity and why?

What opportunity do you see for the organization as a result of the proposed decision? (In the second round, you can ask how employees rate the opportunities others have mentioned and what their advice is to make that a success)

What should the [department/organization/….] do less to prevent ‘stacking work’, and to make implementing the proposed decision successful?

Is there anything you want to tell the Works Council, whatever, when studying the proposed decision and advising the director?

What information do you need to understand better what it is about?

What effect do you see in the short term of the proposed decision that you want us to be aware of?

What effect do you see in the long term of the proposed decision that you want us to be aware of?

What effect do you see in the short term of the proposed decision on [….] that you want us to be aware of, and why would you think that effect exists?

How do you think this proposed decision contributes to our strategy for [……]?

How do you think this proposed decision contributes to [……]?

What do you think is an alternative to the proposed decision and what do you base on it?

What is necessary to prevent this proposed decision in this way?

What do you think is the most crucial reason – of the reasons the board has mentioned – why the organization wants to make this decision?

After we sent you the additional information requested by you this week: have the consequences for you been clearly described? Which ones were not clearly described?

Are the reasons provided by management for this decision convincing for you? Which were not convincing?

What do you think is a possible reason for this decision, which is not mentioned in the documents?

What do you need to have clarified to give you an idea of the proposed decision?

What is your opinion on the level of ambition of the proposed decision? Should it be higher, lower, or different otherwise?

Together, we want to define the criteria by which we will consider the consent. What criterion do you think is most important to set and why? (In the second round, they can support criteria that others mentioned by ranking them, and you can ask them to explain their scores)

The Works Council wants to use the attached criteria to consider consent. Which one is most important to you and why?

What criterion on the previous list [….] for consent do you think is missing and should be on the list?

Please read the enclosed draft advice carefully and indicate whether you support it or not. Please explain your point of view. (After the second round, employees can change their yes or no)

What is missing from the attached draft advice on the issue of [….], and how would you reformulate it?

What is the strongest argument for [….] in the attached draft advice, and why do you think that?

We would like to know whether you agree with the attached advice that will be sent to the director shortly. Please provide your point of view and motivation. (After the second round, and scoring/weighing of other motivations, they can finalize their point of view).

 

Employee Consultation in connection with section 5:

How can we measure the implementation as well as possible (and adjust it if necessary)?

What do you expect from the Works Council in monitoring the implementation?

What would you consider the best timeframe for the Works Council to check how the implementation is progressing and possibly adjust (this can be placed on management’s agenda)?

How do you think the implementation of decision [….] is progressing in practice: can you name a positive change? Can you describe this in concrete terms?

How do you think the implementation of decision [….] is going in practice: what are you critical about or even negative and why? (In the second round, you can ask if employees would like to give their tips on the opinions of others whom they support)

What do you think has changed (significantly) in [….], which means that the decision of [……] has to be reassessed?

 

Risk Inventory & Evaluation (RI&E)

Among other things, article 28 (1) and (2) focuses on improving working conditions. The Health and Safety Act also determines what can be expected from the employer; as a Works Council, you monitor this. You may need to take the initiative or, in consultation with the manager/HR, have the RI&E implemented. CircleLytics Dialogue can be used to conduct a complete RI&E investigation. In the event of changes in internal or external circumstances (such as the changes in working from home), the RI&E may need to be reperformed (in part). It can be supervised through your occupational health and safety expert or external advisor or through our partners.

 

Position of minorities and D&I policy

According to the Dutch WOR, article 28 (and the updated Corporate Governance Code), employee participation should play a role in diversity & inclusion. You can use a set of D&I questions to get this started, and in the event of incidents or when you receive specific signals, you can take the initiative based on article 23. When the advice is included in the Corporate Governance Code, the organization’s leadership must explain how it applies.

Examples:

Can you safely express your concerns to your supervisor (-3=not at all, +3=completely), and can you explain your score?

Do you feel that others have the same (career) opportunities as you (no/yes), and can you explain that?

To what extent does management play an exemplary role (-3=not, +3=very much) in D&I, and can you explain?

Do you feel that your ideas, criticisms and opinions are taken seriously? Please explain.

How do you appreciate the visible efforts of management to implement the D&I policy effectively? (1=low, 10=high). Do you have a recent example of your score?

Do you think the organization has a clear priority regarding a diverse workforce? Please explain.

Do you think that the organization’s recruitment and selection policy is aimed at recruiting and selecting a diverse workforce? Please explain.

 Do you feel that this organization provides a safe working environment? Please explain.

 Do you get sufficient support from your supervisor compared to others in the same situation? Please explain.

 

We have numerous questions (40+) ready for you to conduct your (occasional or repeated) consultations and to engage in dialogue with groups or all employees. At this point, it might be interesting to conduct consultations with managers only.

 

Environment (climate)

We have had several dialogues that focus on the environment. Since the climate can even determine whether employees like to work at the organization or want to leave, it is essential to take this information to heart as a Works Council. We expect this to become even more important. Read what one of our partners, Charlotte Extercatte of 100MonthstoChange, says about the role of organizations and the environment/climate.

Examples:

To what extent is management a role model (-3=not, +3=very much) in terms of climate and sustainability, and can you explain this?

 Do you feel your contribution to sustainability and the climate are taken seriously? Please explain.

 How can we make our driving behavior and (lease) car ownership more climate-conscious, or even carbon neutral?

 How do you rate management’s visible commitment to creating and implementing our climate policy convincingly? (1=low, 10=high). Can you name a recent example?

 Do you think that the organization clearly prioritizes the climate issue? Please explain.

How important is the climate for you as a factor to continue working here for many years?

Do you feel that this organization takes the climate issue seriously? Please explain.

Can the organization’s climate policy be more ambitious? Please explain.

 

Directors

We also have some examples of the role of the director:

If you read the attached profile for the role of the director [….]. What are the most essential elements of a new candidate, and why?

If you read the attached profile for the role of the director [….]. What do you think is the least important element of a new candidate, and why?

What should be included in the profile of a new director for the position of [….] and why?

Self-evaluation

One last point: a strong Works Council regularly evaluates itself. We see that happening a lot. They want to be visible and effective and be trusted by employees. And they want to know which of their actions were most important and most visible. This shows a number of things:

  • you are open to new insights and feedback; that is instructive and shows leadership
  • you use modern resources such as CircleLytics, which makes the Works Council more interesting for new candidates
  • you make employees aware of what you have achieved and it clearly shows your ‘success stories’.

CircleLytics is used to ask employees how they perceive the Works Council over a certain period of time. That period shouldn’t be too long, no longer than one year; that dialogue should be repeated annually.

Examples of questions:

How would you rate our performance over the last period: [….] (1=weak, 10=strong) and can you explain that? 

This question can then be applied to various aspects that you want to ask about. You can ask this during the second round.

You can add:

What is your recommendation for better, more visible performances?

How can we improve our communication?

This is a good list for you and for employee participation. Hopefully, it inspires you to think about consultations as:

  • easier than you thought
  • faster than you thought
  • better than you thought.

CircleLytics Dialogue contains more questions in your Works Council account. They are conveniently organized; you can use the platform for all question/answer variants, but the unique element is the second round, in which the results of the first round are weighed, and the support and effects become visible.

Our final tip: you can also use CircleLytics for smart consultations and to brainstorm, discuss and make decisions with your colleagues. You can use it for groups of ten people to many thousands of colleagues (in large organizations and committees). For example, you can apply CircleLytics one week before the physical meeting takes place.

We are happy to help you with your employee participation. And don’t forget to contact the partners we mentioned at the start of this blog post.

Plan your meeting, demo, training or question design session here.

 

 

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