An HR Glossary for HR Terms
Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms
What Is Employee Relations?
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. Employee relations refers to an organization’s efforts to fulfill these functions and 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.
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What Does an Employee Relations Job Involve?
Typical responsibilities of an employee relations manager include:
- Acting as a liaison or intermediary between employees and managers
- Creating or advising on the creation of policies around employee issues, including:
- Fair compensation
- Useful benefits
- Proper work-life balance
- Reasonable working hours
5 Examples of Employee Relations
- Workplace Conflicts: Disagreements and disputes between employees are common and typically result from ineffective communication. HR departments and employee relations managers can’t please everyone; however, if conflicts arise and dissatisfaction increases, managers or leadership are responsible for resolving them quickly.
- Workplace Bullying: If a simple conflict escalates into bullying, immediate action must be taken. The consequences of letting bullying occur on the job are low employee performance, increased absenteeism, and bad brand reputation (not to mention potential legal action). Bullying reports should be taken seriously, and investigations may need to be initiated.
- Workplace Safety: If accidents happen in the workplace, an employer may be held liable for injuries, medical leave, or lost wages. Additionally, the company can suffer monetary losses from lower production. Promoting and immediately addressing workplace safety issues is a top employee relations concern.
- Poor Time Tracking: If employees are constantly complaining that their working hours are not counted correctly (or if managers suspect dishonest hour tracking from employees), it needs to be investigated immediately. Federal wage and hour violations are illegal and need to be taken seriously.
- Pay Raise Requests: Declining or ignoring pay raise requests increases the likelihood of disgruntled employees and high turnover rates. Even if your organization offers fair wages, consider all pay raise requests to see if there is room to offer a raise or other perks instead.
Why Is Employee Relations Management Important?
Employees can’t work well together without positive relationships with their colleagues and leadership team. Proper relationship management helps build effective teams where everyone respects each other, collaborates, listens to new ideas, and works together seamlessly.
To maintain positive employee relations, organizations must first view employees as stakeholders and contributors in the company. Adopting this perspective encourages management and executives to seek employee feedback, value their input, and consider the employee experience when making business decisions.
How to Handle Employee Relations Issues
1. Create an Employee Relations Strategy
An employee relations strategy is a way to maintain a balance between employers and employees by creating an environment conducive to each group’s needs. Employers want productivity and performance; employees want acknowledgment and appreciation. A good employee relations strategy will help both get what they want.
At a minimum, your strategy should include the following KPIs:
- Number of recognitions
- Number of complaints
- Complaint response time
- Quarterly benefits and compensation data compared to competitors
- Employee satisfaction
- Employer performance
2. Listen to Employee Feedback
There are many types of employee relations issues, and the way to handle them can vary depending on the issue. However, there are some general guidelines to follow. One is to listen. Give your full attention and focus on what is being said vocally and physically before taking appropriate action.
3. Educate and Communicate
Make sure to educate and communicate with employees to maintain positive employee relations. 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.
4. Ensure Compliance
Finally, document everything. Keeping accurate legal and employee records is vital for employee relations issues. You will likely find yourself needing to refer back to them, and they will be especially useful if an employee lawsuit is brought against the company.
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