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Employee Relations: The What, Why, and How

Find out what employee relations is today, the tactics involved in building a positive working environment with your employees, and how you can better communicate with them to improve job performance.
Published 2 Sep 2022
Updated 23 Nov 2022
5 min read
Employee Relations in your Business

Do you have a great working relationship with your employees? If not, it may be time to focus on employee relations.

A good employee relations strategy can help businesses improve communication, resolve workplace conflict, and build a positive work environment. employee relations can also improve employee morale and motivation, leading to better job performance.

What are employee relations?

Employee relations refers to a business’s efforts to create and maintain a positive relationship with all their employees.

By maintaining positive and constructive employee relations, your business can keep employee satisfaction high, and as a result, employees are more engaged in their work.

Why is positive employee relations important?

Having good employee relations is crucial to businesses looking to improve business outcomes.

When employees and managers and their collective relationships are positive, employee engagement, employee satisfaction, motivation and morale all skyrocket!

Employees who get along with their managers enjoy going to work in the morning, rather than waking up feeling anxious about the day ahead, leading to a better overall work experience.

This also presents a snowball effect, as happy employees are likely to recommend their workplace to friends and family. The last thing you want is disgruntled employees complaining about poor working conditions and affecting your employer brand.

Happy employees work harder, produce better work and ultimately keep customers happy and the business thriving. Yaaaayy!

Who is responsible for creating an employee relations strategy?

Employee relations isn’t just the job of Human Resources, it should also be the responsibility of anyone in the leadership team or a managerial role.

While bigger companies might employ dedicated employee relations professionals or an employee relations manager to handle employee relations, the responsibility often falls on individual line managers within different teams.

When it comes to employee relations, these employees have two main responsibilities in employee relations efforts;

To maintain positive employee relations, a business must first view employees as stakeholders and contributors to the company rather than simply paid workers.

This change in perspective encourages those in management and executive roles to seek employee feedback, value their input more highly and consider the employee experience when making decisions that affect the entire company.

Maintaining strong employee relations

If you’re reading this thinking ‘Yes, I already have amazing employment relations between my employees and management. What now?‘.

That’s great! But, there’s always room for improvement – you don’t want those amazing employee relationships to dwindle.

So, here are a few quick tips on maintaining your employee relations.

1. Open communication 🔊

We all know that in any relationship, communication is key to success. So, why should employee relations be any different?

Employees spend the majority of their weekdays at work surrounded by the same people, so it’s important that they feel comfortable with their line managers and other team members.

As a manager, you want to make sure you’re always communicating. Let your team know that you are there to talk about their work or anything else they need and be as transparent with them as possible.

Setting regular 1:1’s is a great way to facilitate this. But why not switch this up a gear and have your 1:1 in a local coffee shop or anywhere outside of the workplace environment? This may help your employees feel even more relaxed and comfortable around you as a manager.

It’s a great way to keep communication flowing at all times, engage your employees and let them share their thoughts in a safe environment.

2. Show recognition 🏆

Simple gestures of thanks and kind words go a long way. Longer than you might think.

Getting praise from your manager about a particular task you completed will help build and maintain their relationship.

Often employees may feel disgruntled when they work with a manager who never appreciates their hard work.

3. Constant feedback 💬

Offering frequent feedback to your employees on their great work and constructive criticism on where they can improve is essential in nurturing a positive relationship with your team.

You also want to start creating an open feedback loop where your employees can also give their feedback on you as a manager.

4. Invest in your employees 📈

Show employees that you care about them as people, not just as 9-5 workers.

Expressing that their fulfilment is important to you, on a professional and personal level, is a big statement that will elicit their respect and keep them engaged.

Improving employee relations

If all this employee relations stuff is new to you, or if it’s something you’ve never really focused on before – here are some tips on improving employee relations within your business.

5. Stop micromanaging 🙅‍♀️

If you’ve ever been micromanaged, you know it’s the worst. When a leader micromanages, it shows that they have a lack of trust in their team as they are unwilling to give their employees autonomy.

This leads to a risk of creating disengaged employees. But keep in mind there is a difference between offering guidance and micromanaging.

Guidance and feedback are always great for performance management, but watching their every move, hovering and offering too much-unsolicited advice will actually begin to make employees doubt themselves, and this will lead to a slew of other problems.

6. Try not to pick favourites 👑

Treat everyone on your team with the same respect if you want to earn the same respect back. If a manager or employer has favourites, it can completely demoralise the whole team.

Make sure you are showing all your amazing employees the same respect, attention and recognition, so no one feels left out.

7. Clarity is key 🗝️

This all goes back to having good communication. Employees want to know exactly what is expected of them, whether that’s in their overall job role or a particular task. Make sure you’re crystal clear in your communication with your team.

Miscommunication can lead to confusion, heightening stress levels in your employee and making them disengaged with the project.

8. Let your team be heard 🎤

Make sure your employees can have their say on any projects or tasks you are asking them to do. After all, you’ve hired them because of their expertise and experience, so make sure you’re utilising that.

If you want some more information on employee engagement, rewards and benefits that will help you improve your employee relations, have a read on these useful resources:

Fostering a strong employment relationship

Employee relations are essential for any business. By following the tips above, you’re on your way to becoming an employee relations pro! Just remember to keep the lines of communication open, appreciate your employees and be clear in your expectations.

Looking for a way to improve employee relations and employee engagement? Employment Hero can help.

Our employee engagement and feedback platform is designed to help you create a happy, productive and engaged workforce. Learn more about how Employment Hero can help by talking to our business specialist today.

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