What Is Employee Relations and How Does It Help?

It has become fashionable these days to state that employees are every organisation’s greatest asset so you’d imagine that companies are paying enough attention to employee relations. Unfortunately many organisations still don’t give it the consideration it strongly deserves.

Employee relations refers to the measures taken by a company to manage the relationships between managers and employees. This is usually undertaken by the HR department. The ideal relationship between a manager and an employee is one rooted in mutual respect, appreciation, and trust.

If any of these three ingredients is missing, then something is wrong. Employees will end up feeling disengaged and unappreciated while managers will end up feeling disrespected and misunderstood.

A good employee relations initiative builds and maintains the bonds between employees and managers, and helps to solve the conflict that arise between them in an amicable manner with plenty of learning opportunities. Employee relations can be improved in an organisation by taking the following measures:

  • fostering friendly but respectful personal bonds between managers and employees;
  • keeping employees in the loop about the company’s goals, policies and priorities;
  • treating all employees fairly and equally, with no special treatment for any individuals;
  • encouraging open communication such that employees easily share honest feedback;
  • compensating employees adequately for the talents and skills they bring to the job;
  • assigning employees adequately challenging tasks to keep their jobs interesting, and;
  • recognising and rewarding employees whenever they meet or exceed expectations.

Employee relations is the foundation of building a company’s culture which in turn greatly influences its success. Below we explore five key reasons why employee relations is so important in an organisation:

It helps with decision making

There are many decisions in modern work where getting outside input is important, if for nothing else, to help us be more sure of our own opinions on the decision. This is especially true for decisions that require more creativity than technicality, for example in assignments that have design elements.

Healthy employee relations allow employees to easily reach out for help from both their colleagues and bosses when it comes to these kind of decisions that call for collaboration and consultation.

This seeking of guidance and advice raises the quality of decision-making all across the organisation as a whole as ideas get frequently bounced around several cooperating minds before (and while) being executed.

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On the other hand, in an organisation with poor employee relations, employees are forced to rely only on themselves even for decisions that would be better taken with the help of their colleagues’ suggestions, simply because they are not sure of how they will be perceived for asking for help.

Or even because they simply don’t know their colleagues enough to discern who of them they should ask.

It increases work satisfaction

Healthy employee relations make a workplace feel like a second home. When managers and employees foster and nurture meaningful personal relationships, both of them get more satisfaction from their work because they get a better understanding of its effect on the lives of the people they work with.

An organisation where the employees and managers work together as a family is a happy place to work.

Meanwhile, poor employee relations can turn even a high-paying job into a dreary existence devoid of passion by sucking your daily work life of all warmth and excitement. Employees in such a workplace struggle to find meaning in their work beyond it just being a way for them to earn a living.

It help employees focus

Poor employee relations are usually characterized by low-trust workplaces where managers tend to hide sensitive information from their teams. Such workplaces are not conducive for getting things done as employees are always distracted by rumors and tension about what is really going in the background.

Healthy employee relations allow people to stop worrying about what they don’t know (and more importantly, what they think they don’t know) and focus on the important tasks in front of them. This is why managers must exemplify a culture of open communication in order to foster employee relations.

It helps with sharing work loads

Healthy employee relations enable teams to take on projects smoothly as team members can come together and discuss how best share the necessary tasks (as well as help each other do them). This in turn increases overall productivity by giving everyone a real sense of ownership of the tasks at hand.

Poor employee relations, on the other hand, force managers to adopt a more dictatorial style of leadership where they arbitrarily assign everyone their responsibilities without their input.

This may sometimes deliver faster results but will more often than not breed resentment toward the manager as people soon inevitably start speculating that some of their colleagues are being favoured over them.

employee relations

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It reduces and mitigates conflict

Conflict is natural in any grouping of human beings but healthy employee relations reduce the incidence of disagreements between team members. Furthermore, healthy employee relations ensure that even when conflict does arise, it is handled in mature way.

The involved parties are able to maintain personal respect and genuinely work together to find compromise as well as lessons they can both learn from it.

An environment of poor employee relations, on the other hand, is a breeding ground for unnecessary fights as egos easily clash because people don’t know and/or trust each other enough.

These conflicts are also more likely to draw out for longer than necessary and often offer little to no lessons for the parties involved because they are often rooted in petty, rather than substantial, differences.

In Summary

Employee relations is generally all about shaping the interpersonal relationships between the various individuals (both employees and managers) in the workplace. Organisations like to think of themselves as machines but must not forget that at the end of the day, they are made up of living, breathing people who have evolved to function best as social beings.

This is why maintaining healthy employee relations is key for an organisation to succeed – it is the key to efficient, engaged and productive employees.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.