What Is Employee Relations In HR? (And Why Is It Important)
Updated 25 October 2022
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Employees are an essential part of an organisation. Employers often make efforts to ensure that they maintain healthy relations with their employees to maintain a positive workplace environment. If you are an HR professional, knowing what employee relations means and why it is important can help you develop good professional ties between employer and the employees. In this article, we answer the question, 'What is employee relations?', discuss its importance in an organisation and explain some ways in which organisations can develop and maintain healthy employee relations.
What Is Employee Relations?
Knowing the answer to 'What is employee relations?' can help you understand why it is important for almost every organisation. Employee relations, or ER, refers to the relations between an employer and its employees. In an organisation, it is typically an HR professional's duty to work toward developing and managing employee relations. They may do this by acting as a liaison between the employees and the employer. These professionals may also require resolving issues between the two to maintain a relationship.
Companies typically give this duty to the human resources department, but they may also appoint a dedicated employee relations manager depending on the organisation's size and requirements. Common duties of this role may include developing policies for employees that include fair compensation and benefits, suitable working hours to ensure work-life balance and a proper leave structure. They may also develop policies to resolve disputes between a manager and their team members.
Related: What Are Industrial Relations? (Definition And Benefits)
Importance Of Employee Relations
Here are some reasons why having positive employee relations in an organisation is important:
Improved employee engagement
Employee engagement often plays a vital role in the development of an organisation. If the employees remain engaged and provide continuous contributions, it may help the organisation achieve its goals. To do this, employers require creating a workplace environment where employees can openly share their ideas and suggestions. This is where employee relations can prove to be beneficial. When companies maintain healthy relations with their employees, it may enable them to have confidence in their employees' suggestions. This may promote better employee engagement.
Related: Employee Engagement Tools (With Features And Examples)
Improved work-life balance
Employees may feel exhausted because of their hectic work schedules. Companies may benefit from providing employees with a flexible schedule and a set number of working hours, which may allow them to spend time outside of the workplace. Employers can implement this by introducing new policies or modifying the existing ones in a way that allows employees to have a better work-life balance.
Enhanced workplace culture
Companies often try to implement a robust workplace culture to keep employees engaged and provide them with the means to excel and enjoy their time at work. Open workplace culture may also allow employers to appreciate their employees more often or provide constructive feedback when required. Employees may also do the same for their employers. Companies can make this possible by incorporating better employee relations and building a strong rapport with their employees at an individual and a collective level.
Reduced workplace conflicts
Having strong employee relations can help in reducing workplace conflicts. This is because strong relations may promote open dialogue between managers and their team members. Open conversations about conflicts at all levels can help all the participants find a solution collectively, which may benefit everyone. It may also help resolve issues between employees and the higher management of the organisation. This is where a dedicated employee relations manager may be helpful. These professionals are typically experts at resolving workplace conflicts without letting them affect the relationship between the employer and the employee.
Related: What Is Conflict Resolution? Using This Practice At Work
Healthy workplace relations can help motivate employees and enable them to perform better. When employers provide employees with due recognition and appreciation, it may encourage them to continue working with the same capacity and improve wherever they can. It may also enable them to receive constructive feedback in a positive manner and incorporate it to improve their performance. This may result in the improvement of the overall performance of the organisation. Motivated employees are also less likely to experience workplace burnout, which may result in sustained productivity.
Related: Motivation At Work: How To Motivate Employees In Their Jobs
Improved employee loyalty
Employees are more likely to stay longer with an employer if they have a healthy professional relationship with them. This is because it may allow the employer and employees to have trust and confidence in each other. Strong professional relations may also promote a healthy workplace culture, which can increase its likeability for the employees and encourage them to stay at the organisation for a longer time.
Ways To Improve Employee Relations
Here are some ways in which an organisation can improve employee relations:
Organising events can be a good way in which companies can develop and maintain employee relations. Celebrating birthdays, festivals or achievements can help in developing a bond between managers and team members. Doing this regularly can improve overall employee relations at the organisations. Employers can also organise team bonding activities, including games and team trips. These may allow employees to collaborate and spend time with each other and their managers outside of a professional environment. This can ultimately develop healthy employee relations. It may also help improve the performance of employees.
Conducting regular team meetings
Conducting regular team meetings is also another good way of developing employee relations. Managers can set up weekly or biweekly meetings with all the team members. The meeting can be to discuss issues or concerns the team members may have. It can serve as an open platform for them to discuss any small or big problems. Managers can start and end the meeting positively, ensuring that all members are comfortable sharing their concerns or contributing to finding a resolution to another team member's issue.
Praising employees on their work and providing them with recognition for it can help strengthen employee relations. Companies often organise annual events to reward their employees. Individual teams can also organise their own events annually or quarterly to recognise their team members. Apart from this, managers or team leaders can reward their team members upon completion of a project or a successful launch of a product the team developed. This can motivate employees and encourage them to work with enthusiasm.
Related: What Is Employee Empowerment? (Definition And Benefits)
Engaging team members
Employees are an integral part of any organisation and vital to its development. It can be beneficial for an organisation to engage and involve its employees in making certain decisions. For example, a company can take a survey asking its employees to suggest areas of improvement in the workplace. This may include the addition of more food outlets in the cafeteria or a library. The company can then implement the changes based on the responses it receives from the employees. This way, the company can improve its workplace and the employees may feel involved.
Another good way of strengthening employee relations can be to practise open communication within the organisation. It can benefit the company to communicate any decisions or changes within the organisation that may affect employees. This way, employees can stay prepared for the change and limit the number of small, immediate changes they may require making. Open communication can also involve allowing employees to express their concerns to the company.
Companies can implement this by providing employees with a platform or forum to communicate their concerns verbally or in writing. Doing so can help companies incorporate an open communication culture which can benefit them along with their employees. This may also help develop trust between the two.
Related: What Are Channels Of Communication? (Importance And Types)
Establishing workplace culture
Companies can benefit from establishing a workplace culture and following it consistently. This may help employees develop a mindset that is in alignment with the goals of the company. It may also help employees develop the same mission and vision as the company, which may enable them to work towards its goals with increased enthusiasm. Companies can incorporate unique ways of rewarding and praising their employees. This can help the company and its employees improve their relations.
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