HR professionals have a lot on their plate daily. It starts with hiring and moves on to onboarding of new hires, performance management, remuneration & compensation, appraisal, and even dealing with resignations and exits. But one of the most important parts of HR Management is ensuring that employees have positive working relationships. If relationships are healthy, employees are more productive, and turnover decreases. The HR department has the responsibility to foster and manage healthy employee relations. Business leaders expect HR teams to use the best practices to ensure employee satisfaction to avoid losing valuable talent. This blog post will provide six tips to help HR leaders create and maintain healthy employee relations. But before we go through these tips, let’s go deeper into understanding employee relations and their importance.
A dive into understanding Employee Relations
Employee relations (ER) is a term used to describe the actions and activities undertaken by an organization to manage relationships with employees. These could be prospective employees, current employees, or even ex-employees of the company. As a result, employee relations encompasses everything from hiring, onboarding, ensuring that employees are treated, following the law, and managing employee departures. It includes communication, consultation, negotiation, and conflict resolution.
Fundamental to any successful organization is a healthy relationship with its employees. If you want to run a successful business, it is essential to understand employee relations. Employees are the lifeblood of any business, and if you have a terrible relationship with your staff, it will be hard, if not impossible, to maintain a healthy workplace. Hence, a good relationship between management and employees can do wonders for any organization. Further, effective employee relationship management (ERM) can positively impact employee engagement, boost employee morale, and reduce employee turnover.
It starts with understanding your employees and what motivates them. Once you handle their needs and motivations, you can create an employee relations policy that meets their expectations. You should design this policy to protect both the company and the employees. It should consider issues such as harassment, whistleblower protection, workplace violence, and more. Doing this will ensure that employees find the workplace positive and rewarding.
Six tips to ensure healthy employee relations
1. Communicate effectively
It is crucial to communicate effectively with your staff to maintain healthy employee relations. Effective and open two-way communication is also the key to a healthy workplace. By speaking and understanding their concerns and empathizing with their situation, you can create a relaxed and productive environment for team collaboration. Communication will also help you know your employees’ expectations and set clear guidelines to maintain transparency, order, and discipline. Effective communication also enables you to make sure all employees are aware of company policies and how they will be enforced, communicate changes in scheduling or work assignments promptly, and make yourself available to discuss concerns or problems.
2. Implement a clear complaint process
Employees should feel comfortable coming forward with any concerns or complaints they may have. Implementing a clear and easy-to-follow complaint process will make it easier for employees to voice their concerns. By implementing a clear complaint process, you can ensure that complaints are handled fairly and quickly. This will help to avoid any disputes or grievances becoming bigger and maintain a positive work environment. Make sure to include the entire workforce in the process, from the top management down to the front line staff, so that everyone is aware of the complaint procedure and knows how to raise a concern.
3. Establish and enforce standards of conduct
It’s essential that you establish and enforce standards of conduct so that your employees know what behavior is expected of them. This will prevent any legal issues from arising. Make sure to include provisions for disciplinary action in your employee handbook, and institute a system where employees can report any misconduct or complaints. By doing this, you can ensure that your business remains in compliance with all relevant regulations and that your employees are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
4. Do not threaten or retaliate against employees who complain about their working conditions
It is natural for employees to express their concerns about their working conditions. However, it is important not to threaten or retaliate against them. It can destroy the trust between you and your employees and hinder their ability to raise any issues they may have. Instead, take their complaints seriously and work to resolve them promptly. Additionally, make sure that you provide a safe and healthy work environment for your employees and give them the tools to voice any grievances they may have. It would help if you addressed any complaints which may occur constructively and diplomatically. Doing that will lead you to build healthy relations with your employees.
5. Build a grievance handling process and Conflict Resolution Plan
To avoid any negative impact on your relations with your company’s human resources, you should build a grievance handling process and a Conflict Resolution Plan. A grievance handling process should ensure prompt and effective resolution of complaints. Whereas a Conflict Resolution Plan can help in damage control. You should also develop protocols for how grievances should be filed, investigated, and resolved. It will further help avoid any potential damage to your relationships with your employees.
The major constituents of the conflict resolution plan will include
1. Communication protocols and guidelines
2. Investigation procedures
3. Use of existing company policies for resolving the conflict
4. Tweaking existing policies or forming new policies if required to resolve a conflict
5. Acknowledgement and follow-up procedures
6. Invest in training on critical topics such as Sexual Harassment, Diversity, Inclusiveness, Racial Discrimination, etc.
To build solid and healthy, and positive relationships with your employees, it is essential that companies invest in employee relations training on disciplinary topics to spread essential awareness within the team. This awareness will foster sensitivity within the team towards these highly sensitive topics. That sensitivity won’t allow misconduct and will maintain positivity in the work environment. By providing employees with the knowledge and understanding they need to deal with sensitive issues like sexual harassment, racial discrimination, diversity, and inclusion, you can avoid lawsuits and protect your company’s reputation.
By doing so, you will also be able to create an environment free from discrimination and foster a sense of inclusion for everyone. Further, by consistently training your employees on these essential topics, you can build a more cohesive and supportive team. The team can then handle difficult situations smoothly. When employees are comfortable and feel safe speaking up about any incident or problem they encounter, it leads to a more productive and efficient workplace.
Managing employee relations is complex and challenging. It goes far beyond paying your employees on time and enforcing a dress code. In fact, it means fostering an environment where employees feel appreciated, safe, and respected. Also, it involves a clear communication strategy that allows everyone to understand their roles and responsibilities. However, by following the six tips mentioned in this blog post, you can lay a solid foundation for healthy and productive working relationships with your staff. By understanding the different aspects of employee relations, you can create an environment conducive to productivity and innovation.