What is employee relations?

Employee relations involves the continuous process of building healthy work relationships between employer and employee and among the staff. An employee relations manager focuses on resolving and avoiding issues concerning employees and formulating policies that encourage consistent, unbiased treatment of employees. 

Why should HR leaders care about employee relations?

Any relationship– if it’s going to last– takes constant, unfaltering effort from both sides. While employees must maintain their side of the contract, they also must feel they can trust their employer to do the same. If there is a lack of integrity in the relationship, personnel won’t want to perform high-quality work or stay with their employer. Monitoring workplace relationships for improvement can increase retention, engagement, productivity, and innovation while nurturing a flourishing business ecosystem.

What can HR leaders do to improve employee relations?

HR leaders can support a robust, growing company through incorporating these practices:

  • Treat employees as stakeholders. Relating to employees as actively involved players in the company imparts them with greater autonomy. Inviting employees to take on more responsibility can nurture pride in their work and strengthen their company loyalty. 
  • Anticipate challenges in advance. HR professionals can ask what they can do, on their part, to improve employee relations? Planning for possible obstacles down the road allows HR leaders to preempt legal pitfalls or undesirable social situations. Including clearly outlined policies in the employee handbook can provide clear guidelines for all parties regarding proper workplace conduct. 
  • Train managers in coaching and counseling. Equipping managers with the tools to coach and counsel employees can enhance workplace relations. By clarifying expectations, identifying hurdles, collaboratively setting goals, and emphasizing employee strengths, managers can ignite employee motivation to improve performance. 
  • Incorporate routine meetings. Meet one-on-one in a private, comfortable setting. Making the meetings goal-oriented, creating a meeting checklist, and using active listening can encourage the employee and manager to work collaboratively and productively. 
  • Communicate obligations and expectations. During the hiring process and throughout employment, managers should explicitly explain the employer’s obligations to the employee. If the organization included specific employee benefits, compensation, or perks in the contract, then it must deliver. Discussing employees’ duties ensures that they understand what is expected of them as well. Through demonstrating integrity and consistency, employers and employees can build trust and strengthen bonds.    

How can a healthy approach to employee relations improve company culture?

To support a positive employee experience, HR leaders need to enforce ethical relationship guidelines. Clear boundaries and realistic expectations help each party know and understand their responsibilities. Implementing employee relations that promote trust, empathy, and respect can nurture an engaged workforce of individuals ready to contribute to their work community.