Introduction

Employee relations, in simple words, means relationships between employees and employers that include cooperative, individual relationships and those between team members with their managers.

  1. What is meant by employee relations?
  2. Employee relations examples
  3. The key principles of managing employee relationships
  4. Employee relations best practices
  5. Employee relations policy example

1. What is meant by employee relations?

All aspects of all employer-employee relations are covered under the term ‘Employee relations’ or ER, inclusive of practical, contractual, emotional and physical relationships. The HR department is concerned with the importance of employee relations and manages the policies/ efforts of the company to ensure that such relationships are cordial and well-maintained because the employees are the driving force of a company and their well-being is crucial via ER programs and policies, for the company to grow and be efficient/ prosperous.

2. Employee relations examples

Here are some examples of good ER policies and measures under employer-employee relationships.

Employees may

  • Use company internet to watch explicit sexual material. 
  • Have unplanned work absences frequently. 
  • Disrespect their supervisors when speaking to them.
  • Have co-worker disputes. 
  • Repeatedly arrive late for meetings.
  • Found gossiping or spreading malicious rumours about the company and co-workers. 

These employee relations examples illustrate a range of HR issues that impinge on employee relationship management, emotional, contractual, practical and physical ER aspects and could be multi-dimensional issues that need to be sorted out appropriately and at once.

3. The key principles of managing employee relationships

The 2 key principles of employee-relations strategy are

  1. Ensure the company keeps to its promises.
  2. Ensure communications are transparent, honest, timely and straightforward, especially regarding the difference between industrial relations and employee-relations.

When a company fails to stand by its words or promises, the employee loses trust in the employer, and this may lead to several issues that affect their extra-role and in-role performances, their job satisfaction, sense of confidence and obligation, and intentions of staying employed by the organisation. Care should be taken to not oversell the company by HR because employee and labour relations involved may cause a breach of the ER contract due to incongruence and reneging of contract by employees who are critical characteristics of industrial relations.

Incongruence is best explained by this example of the HR executive saying that the company promotions frequently occur within three years, and the employees treat this as a promise. Whereas in reneging of contract, take the example of HR promising a promotion in 3 years and such action not followed through. In both cases, the employees will feel the employer has not stood by the ER contract.

4. Employee relations best practices

To alleviate issues in ER relationships, here are some best practices and employee relations management tools that help manage employee-employer efforts and relations by the HR department.

  • Share company goals, mission and vision: It is good that frequent sharing of employee roles and relations are made a best practice at the organisation. This ensures the objectives of employee relations like a feeling of belonging, oneness in achievements, keeping the ER lines open to communication when there is any issue or doubt etc., are available and met.
  • Honest and transparent communication: This is crucial to ER relations and ensures employees share honest and transparent communication. For Ex: A team member is leaving. It is always best when the company’s vision focuses on such communications, and any misunderstandings are quickly resolved through transparent actions and answers to employee queries.
  • Build employee trust: Rather than micro-manage the role of employee relations, trust the employees to learn what is needed of them, how to achieve those common goals and let them take the best shot at achieving this with complete trust being invested from the employer’s side. Even when offering feedback or guidance, ensure it is not misconstrued as being meddlesome. The company managers should always be sensitive and ready to accept work-related communications from team members for good employee relations.
  • People investments: A company shows it cares when it strengthens employee relations via mentoring programs, developmental learning programs, wellness programs, regular appraisals and constructive group feedback programs etc., which encourage oneness and team comradeship.
  • Recognition & appreciation: A whopping  76% of employees looking for alternates to employment felt they were not valued at work! Good practices to make the employees feel praiseworthy are a rewards and recognition policy by the HR department, hall of fame and praise boards at the workplace and so on. Regular team meetings and competitions both at inter and intra levels, department meetings for R&R efforts, weekend praise meetings etc., can also help boost employee morale and trust and serve the purpose of employee relations.
  • Avoid favouritism:  This is crucial to ensure the company employee-relations policy is not perceived as playing favourites, especially in terms of promotions, incentives, awards etc. Absolute transparency is required in the ER, so all employees feel wanted and equal.
  • Time management: It will bear no fruit if all benefits are there, and no time is provided to avail them. Good incentive programs and programs that permit flexible work-management should be encouraged.

5. Employee relations policy example

Here is a non-exhaustive list of topics that a good policy on employee-relations always contains. Do refer to the ER policy of Deutsche Telekom, Nestlé, or  Brown University if in any doubt.

  • Company’s introduction and facts about founders.
  • The policy and need for excellent employee relations.
  • The transparent guiding principles followed in the ER policy. 
  • Compliance measures adopted.
  • Concept of industrial relations and Collective Negotiation forums provided.
  • Disciplinary Action grounds and measures adopted.

Conclusion

Employee-relations are crucial to the organisation’s growth and the environment in the workplace. It can break or make organisational performance. Common best practices followed by market leaders have been discussed above and can be adopted. 

Are you interested in learning more about Analytics in Workforce Management? Take a look at our People Analytics and Digital HR program, in collaboration with IIM Indore. This is a 3-month long program with instructor-led sessions by IIM-I faculty.

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