10 Strategies to Improve Employee Relations

Today’s job seekers are savvier than ever and are looking for companies with a reputation for having a positive culture. Ensuring your employee relations are the best they can be positions your organization to be an industry leader and keeps employees happy and productive.

Professional man and woman happily conversing with coffee and documents in hand.

What is Employee Relations?

Employee relations is the relationship between an organization and its employees, which is usually fostered by the Human Resources department. Things like employee surveys, resolving workplace conflicts, handling employee complaints, and enforcing policies and standards all fall under employee relations. Communication, recognition, feedback, and investing in employee growth all make for a successful and positive employee relations culture.

Common Employee Relations Problems and How They Impact Your Organization

Conflict is an inevitable part of every organization and, as a leader, you can’t shy away from it. Being proactive to hedge conflict and using effective communication skills is key to keeping employee relationships intact.

Every business will have compensation issues, from disputes over hours worked to the employee pay raise process. It’s important to have conversations with employees to address whatever the issue is, and encourage them to bring their concerns to you. Implement proactive measures like having a time clock system and ensuring the clarity of your employee manual or department policies and procedures.

Have safety regulations in place and listen to your employees if they have concerns, to see how you might improve the workplace environment.

If it’s necessary to discipline an employee, be sure the disciplinary process has been clearly explained to them. Make sure to get HR involved as soon as an issue arises as well.

The quality of a workplace — from the workplace spaces to recognition programs — can have a big impact on the effectiveness of your employees, so that they feel comfortable and safe.

How to Improve Employee Relations

Positive employee relations can only develop from having an effective strategy built on communication, trust, managing perceptions and beliefs, setting clear expectations, and a solid conflict resolution process.

Here are some ways you can improve employee relations:

Have an employee relations plan. Work together as a team to set goals, develop a training plan, set disciplinary procedures, and put a dispute resolution process into place. Review the plan on a regular basis, as your business is likely to change just as often.

Conduct an employee relations assessment. This can help you see how effective your employee relations plan is. An assessment also gives employees the chance to voice their opinion and be part of a solution.

Avoid micromanaging, as employees may feel like they’re not trusted. Strive to check in daily, and set up weekly one-on-one meetings with your reports.

Praise effort, but avoid playing favorites. Everyone enjoys praise, but focusing on one individual too much can often lead to other employee relations issues.

Provide clear communication, especially about what the employee’s role and responsibilities are. Review these responsibilities quarterly.

Gather ideas from employees. If a decision affects a specific work group, seek out ideas from that group alone. This will save time and be more effective than asking your entire organization.

Ensure growth opportunities. Be sure to include career development when you create your employee relations plan.

Define employee boundaries and make them generous so employees are empowered to make their own decisions and proactively problem-solve.

Actively listen. Encourage open, honest communication so that your employees aren’t just telling you what you want to hear.

Believe in your employees. Forgive mistakes, encourage them, support them, and be collaborative, but set parameters and define what’s acceptable and what’s not.

How Improving Employee Relations Will Positively Affect Your Organization

Improving employee relations can:

  • Foster personal motivation
  • Increase productivity
  • Grow company loyalty
  • Reduce workplace conflict

Having good employee relations may help your retention rates as well. According to a study by the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, happy employees are more driven and harder working, and are approximately 12 percent more productive. This can have significant effects across every aspect of your organization.

What Are Your Next Steps?

Review your employee relations plan and ensure it’s up to date and in line with your organization’s needs. KnowledgeCity’s online video training course on positive employee relations can help you understand the effects of positive employee relations and productivity in greater detail, allowing you to establish a plan of action to boost your employee’s happiness and productivity.

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Francis Bvunzawabaya

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