What are employee relations?
Employee relations is the concept that focuses on the relationship between employers and their employees and ensures this relationship is managed legally and ethically.
Employee relations used to be known as industrial relations and refer to individual relationships with employees as well as employees as a group (collective workplace relationships).
Why are employee relations important?
Employee relationship management is important because strong working relationships between employers and employees can lead to a number of benefits for businesses, including:
- Improved productivity
- Lower staff turnover
- Reduced absenteeism
- Greater employee satisfaction, engagement, and motivation
However, poor employee relations professionals can have the opposite effect and lead to problems such as:
- Poor communication
- Low morale
- High staff turnover
- Increased absenteeism
- Unhappy customers
What are the keys to employee relations management?
There are a number of key things to consider when managing employee relations, including:
The law :
You need to make sure you comply with employment legislation. Your company's policies and procedures should be clear and up-to-date.
Both formal (e.g., company updates) and informal (e.g., regular catch-ups) should be open and honest.
For both employees and employers, employee relations are important to manage effectively because strong working relationships between employers and employees can lead to a number of benefits for businesses.
This is built over time and can be achieved through good communication and following through on promises.
What are some employee relations challenges?
There are a number of potential challenges when it comes to good employee relationship management, including:
Changes in legislation :
This can make it difficult to keep up-to-date with your legal obligations. Economic conditions For example, during periods of recession, there may be more disputes about pay and job losses. Workplace diversity With a workforce that is increasingly diverse in terms of age, gender, culture, etc., it
Economic downturns :
For example, during periods of recession, there may be more disputes about pay and job losses.
This can both help and hinder employee relations efforts. For example, social media can be used to improve communication but can also be a source of conflict if not managed properly.
For example, if your company goes through a merger or acquisition, this can lead to changes in the way employees work which can cause problems.
M&A activity :
If your company goes through a merger or acquisition, this can lead to changes in the way employees work which can cause problems.
It can be challenging to manage and improve employee relations with an increasingly diverse workforce in terms of age, gender, culture, etc..
What is an employee relations strategy?
A good employee relations strategy is a plan that sets out how an organization will manage its relationships with employees. It should take into account the legal framework, as well as the company's culture and values.
The strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in the law, the workplace, and the workforce.
What does an employee relations manager do?
An employee relations manager works within the HR function. Unlike an HR manager, the focus of their job is on employees rather than the organization as a whole.
Their job typically includes :
- Consulting and implementing new and existing policies for employees and the organization.
- Researching and explaining employment laws to managers, supervisors, and employees.
- Advising and training managers and supervisors on how to handle conflict within the organization.
- Negotiating new contracts with individual employees, employee organizations, or trade unions.
How should you handle employee relations issues?
Employee related matters can be very common, as these examples demonstrate :
Or disagreements about whether an employee had their leave authorized can become a problem that affects the way teams work. You can prevent this from becoming an unnecessarily large problem by using an HRIS to track absence.
This allows employees to remotely communicate sickness leave or other forms of unplanned absence. This can also serve as a record of absenteeism patterns that you and relevant managers can review if there is cause for concern.
Safety in the workplace
Accidents in the workplace can lead to future litigation, which is costly and disruptive to an organization.
Employee relations managers can ensure there is appropriate training for all employees and that supervisors are overseeing safe practices.
They can ensure policies allow for adequate rest breaks, suitable equipment, and regular training to prevent accidents and health problems.
Disagreement within teams or between managers and their direct reports can be very common and lead to low employee retention, poor health, and weak company culture.
You can strive to prevent conflicts from arising through clearly communicated policies that clarify what is or is not acceptable. Training managers in conflict management can be a powerful method of reducing conflict.
Managers can inadvertently cause conflict due to the way in which they behave towards their teams. By making them aware of the potential implications of their behavior and teaching them how to resolve conflict at its earliest stage, you can reduce the impact of conflict on the broader business.
The HR department can help limit the potential for difficult employee relations by establishing clear policies and consistently communicating these to employees.
These could include a code of conduct, bullying and harassment policies, privacy policies, internet use policies, and leave policies.
By including this information in a clear location and ensuring all employees have access to these policies and the consequences of not adhering to these policies, fewer cases of unacceptable behavior are likely to occur.
You could store these policies on a centrally located file such as an employee self-service software or the employee handbook and constantly seek employee feedback to ensure good employee relationships.
Employee relations policy example
An employee relations policy should be designed to protect the employer from legal action and to ensure compliance with employment law.
The policy should cover :
- The employer's commitment to equal opportunity: This section of the policy should state that the employer is committed to providing equal opportunities in employment and will not discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or veteran status.
- The policy should also state that the employer will take action to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace.
- The employer's commitment to a drug-free workplace: This section of the policy should state that the employer is committed to providing a safe and productive workplace and will not tolerate the use of illegal drugs or alcohol.
- The policy should require that employees frequently should notify their supervisor if they are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication that could affect their ability to safely perform their job duties.