Management Tips··5 min read

What Are Employee Relations? And Why Are They Important?

What Are Employee Relations

Employee relations control the atmosphere in your working environment. They also strongly affect the outcome of the work done. This article will cover the important parts of employee relations - what they really are, why they are significant, what issues can arise, and how to improve them.

What Are Employee Relations?

To put it simply, employee relations, or ER, means the relationship between an employer or manager and their employees. This can refer to the relationship between a boss, supervisor, or manager and those working under them.

Employee relations are usually managed by a companies HR department or even by a specific employee relations manager. This is someone who is appointed to make sure that relationships in the workplace are running smoothly and who deals with conflicts that might arise.

An important factor of employee relations is that it focuses on all the efforts that employers make to accommodate employees and positively interact with them.

Why Are Employee Relations Important?

What makes employee relations important is the fact that if your employees are content in the workplace, they will deliver better work. Having employees who enjoy going to work every day because the environment is positive, will certainly increase their productivity and ultimately yours.

If your company boasts a positive employee relations program, you can reduce the amount of conflict and time wasted. Your employees are the driving force behind your company. Making sure that they are taken care of will benefit everybody. This is also helpful in making sure that your employees are loyal and it builds trust.

Issues With Employee Relations

Probably some of the most common conflicts that arise in a workplace stem from negative employee relations. Employees naturally become unhappy when they feel that their management does not put in any effort to attend to their needs. For example:

  • an employee may feel that their compensation package is not sufficient for the amount of work they do
  • an employee may be concerned for his or her safety in the workplace;
  • or an employee does not feel that they can take enough leave per state or government laws.

If you find that your employees are complaining about these things, a good approach is to take a step back and evaluate the reasons for their complaints. Are these issues valid? What can you do to change them? Can you compromise?

But, employee relations definitely do not always stem from employers. More often than not, issues arise because of problems with employees. These problems might be reported by management or even fellow employees.

Examples of employee issues include:

  • An employee receiving negative feedback from customers
  • Presenting poor-quality work
  • Getting into arguments or fights with other coworkers
  • Being late for work on multiple occasions
  • Making sexist, racist, or homophobic comments in the workplace
  • Using company equipment (smartphones, computers, tablets, etc.) to view pornographic or violent content
  • Making physical threats to other coworkers
  • Having or seeming as if they have a substance abuse problem
  • Dressing inappropriately for work or at work functions

Dealing with these issues can be difficult. Unfortunately, these situations are rarely black and white. Your employees are people with emotions and different circumstances that will affect their behavior at work. Some of the issues listed above should be dealt with very seriously. Many companies have policies that allow for immediate suspension or termination should certain situations occur.

For example, if a blatantly racist or homophobic comment is made or if a complaint is made that one of your employees is making unwanted sexual advances toward one of their coworkers, drastic action needs to be taken. Other issues that might be seen as less serious, such as tardiness or poor quality of work, can also be dealt with using a warning system.

The point is that the way your company deals with these kinds of issues is important. You need to keep in mind the reasons for the problem or incident occurring, how often it has happened before, and those who will be affected by this issue.

Improving Employee Relations And Making Sure They Stay Positive

Even if you might feel as though your employee relations are positive, there is always room for improvement. Keeping your companies employee relations positive can be done by;

Providing feedback

Providing your employees with either positive feedback or constructive criticism will not only help them to improve and motivate them, but it will also build a good relationship between you and them. A good way to do this is to have monthly or bi-monthly individual meetings with them where you can talk about their good progress and what they can improve on. Do this in a way that will not make them feel intimidated but rather give them guidance and actionable tips.

Communicating with them

Communicating with your employees will show them that they are important enough to be kept updated about things, whether it is big or small. This will also build a strong relationship where both of you are comfortable asking questions and speaking up about things. Open communication prevents a lot of misunderstands and conflicts, not only between you and your employees but also within their teams.

Trusting your employees

You do not have to check up on every single that your employees do. It makes them feel uncomfortable and as if you do not trust them. This will cause them to feel micro-managed. Instead, allow them to do the job that they are qualified to do and be there for them if they have questions. They will feel as though you have faith in their ability to do their job and it will boost their confidence.

Show them you care

Your employees do not want to feel like robots. They want to feel as if they as individuals are a valuable part of your company - because they are. Simple things like remembering a birthday, telling them well done, or buying everyone lunch once in a while, really go a long way.

Good employee relations are key to running your business smoothly and having optimal productivity. Your employees are obviously a crucial part of your business and it is a proven fact that treating them with respect and kindness will make them feel great and deliver higher quality work.

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