Joint Council

Joint Council Mission Statement:

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) Joint Council is a consensus-driven advisory group that provides a forum for the discussion of various workplace matters having a significant impact on staff. Comprised of equal representation from both HUCTW and exempt staff, the SEAS Joint Council functions as a cross-section of the SEAS community and focuses on promoting communication between senior leadership, management, and staff.

Overview

Article 1 of the HUCTW Agreement with Harvard states that each school and administrative department will establish at least one Joint Council.  A school may elect to establish more than one Joint Council because of differences in size, organization or geographic locations.  SEAS has one Joint Council.  It is the only forum where employees can come together formally to discuss local workplace issues. 

The SEAS Joint Council was established in September 2009 and has been actively establishing operational practices, implementing protocols and planning activities since that time.  The SEAS Joint Council initially established four subcommittees (Communications, Events, Recognition, and Wellness) to help identify action items and projects within the SEAS community that the full Joint Council could address.  To date, the subcommittees have focused on community events, educational opportunities, and discussions of local business processes and workload. 

The Joint Council serves as a voice that allows employees to communicate concerns about issues affecting their working conditions.  It also serves as an idea generator to identify activities and programs in areas such as communication, workflow and information technology that can improve every employee’s work experience at SEAS.   Joint Council representatives may also bring concerns from co-workers to the Joint Council for discussion and perhaps resolution. 

The Joint Council does not hear personal grievances of HUCTW employees or other administrative staff.  While it works closely with the Office for Human Resources, senior management and other offices at SEAS, it does not take the place of these offices or act without consulting relevant stakeholders.  

There is a University-wide Joint Governance Coordinating Committee (JGCC) that advises and facilitates best practices among Harvard’s Joint Councils.  It also provides funding for local Joint Council activities and training.  The SEAS Joint Council focuses on local issues affecting the SEAS community, with input from the JGCC when appropriate.

Benefits

The Joint Council allows any employee to raise issues of concern for discussion and serves as a means to make recommendations to the Dean, senior management, Human Resources or any other stakeholder at SEAS or across the University.  The Council also allows employees to work together on activities to strengthen the sense of community that is essential in a productive workplace.  Finally, the Joint Council helps to bring informational and educational sessions to SEAS staff and runs various events throughout the year.

Goals

This section will be updated soon for the academic year 2015-2016.

Membership and Contacts

The HUCTW Agreement requires that each school’s Joint Council have an equal number of bargaining unit and management representatives.  The HUCTW will appoint or otherwise select its representatives of the bargaining unit.  The school may appoint members including faculty, administrators, supervisors and other staff as appropriate. 

Current membership and contact information:

Joint Council membership is generally for a two-year term, though some members serve for longer durations.  Members meet on the third Wednesday of each month for 60 minutes.   An agenda is established before each meeting by the two co-chairs.  Members may commit to further involvement on subcommittees or activities as they choose. 

Getting Involved

While it is not possible for all staff to be involved in each Joint Council meeting or discussion, Joint Council members are all interested in hearing from other staff members about issues affecting the SEAS community.  Joint Council members can act as representatives in discussions to ensure important staff issues are brought forward. 

Many activities are held throughout the year and staff are welcome to join and/or volunteer.

Past Events

  • Lab tours/research presentations (from the labs of Professors Mazur, Aizenberg, Mooney, and Wood)
  • Bring Your Child to Work Day
  • Open meeting for all staff designed to make the SEAS community aware of the purpose and the activities of the Joint Council
  • Brown Bag Presentations on Space, Academy for Workforce Education, Letter of Appreciation program
  • Thanksgiving Thank You Note programs
  • Pi(e) Day

Community Feedback and Perception

In the spring of 2010, the Joint Council conducted a pulse survey of SEAS employees.  The results were:

  • 66% of respondents understand the purpose of the Joint Council.
  • 41% of respondents have benefited from Joint Council programming.
  • 39% of respondents feel the Joint Council is an appropriate group for work-related issues.
  • 24% of respondents found the Joint Council minutes to be useful.

The Joint Council took these results into consideration when establishing new programs and increasing communications at SEAS.  It will continue to request feedback to ensure it is meeting the needs of the SEAS community and providing a benefit to staff.