Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms
The definition of employee relations refers to an organization’s efforts to create and maintain a positive relationship with its employees.By maintaining positive, constructive employee relations, organizations hope to keep employees loyal and more engaged in their work.
Typically, an organization’s human resources department manages employee relations efforts; however, some organizations may have a dedicated employee relations manager role. Typical responsibilities of an employee relations manager include acting as a liaison or intermediary between employees and managers, and either creating or advising on the creation of policies around employee issues like fair compensation, useful benefits, proper work-life balance, reasonable working hours, and others. When it comes to employee relations, an HR department has two primary functions. First, HR helps prevent and resolve problems or disputes between employees and management. Second, they assist in creating and enforcing policies that are fair and consistent for everyone in the workplace.
By maintaining positive, constructive employee relations, organizations hope to keep employees loyal and more engaged in their work.
To maintain positive employee relations, an organization must first view employees as stakeholders and contributors in the company rather than simply as paid laborers. This perspective encourages those in management and executive roles to seek employee feedback, to value their input more highly, and to consider the employee experience when making decisions that affect the entire company.
Examples of employee relations issues are:
Workplace Conflicts - Disagreements and disputes between employees happen all the time. Often, these are the results of ineffective communication. An HR department or employee relations manager will never please everyone, but if frequent conflicts come up, low morale is building and the issues will only get worse unless resolved.
Workplace Bullying - When a simple conflict escalates into bullying, you’ve got a big problem. The consequences of letting this take place on the job are low employee performance, increased absenteeism, and bad brand reputation (not to mention legal action). Take bullying reports seriously and launch investigations when necessary.
Workplace Safety - If accidents are happening in the workplace, an employer may be held responsible for any injuries, medical leave, and lost wages. On top of that, the company will suffer from the high cost of lowered production. Promoting and immediately addressing workplace safety issues is a top employee relations concern.
Hour Issues - When employees constantly complain that their hours are not getting counted correctly (or if managers suspect dishonest hour tracking from employees), it’s time to get into the details of what is going on. Federal wage and hour violations break the law and need to be taken seriously.
Pay Raise Requests - Declining or ignoring pay raise requests is just asking for disgruntled employees and high turnover rates. Even if you do offer fair wages, fully consider each request to see if there is room to offer a raise (or other perks instead).
There are many types of employee relations issues, and the way to handle them can vary depending on the particular issue. However, there are some general guidelines to follow. One of them is to listen. Give your full attention and try to focus on what is being said both vocally and physically.
Another guideline is to educate and communicate. The more your employees know the rules and expectations, the better. Consistency across the board is key here. If some employees have privileges over others, no one will care what you say.
Finally, document everything. Keeping accurate legal and employee records is vital when it comes to employee relations issues. You will find yourself needing to refer back to them again and again. They will be especially useful if there is ever an employee lawsuit brought against the company.
An employee relations strategy is a way to create balance between employers and employees by creating an environment conducive to each’s needs. Employers want productivity and performance; employees want acknowledgment and appreciation. A good employee relations strategy will help both get what they want.
Your strategy should include at least the following KPIs:
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