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3rd Apr, 2024

Jack Ireland
Jack Ireland
Job Title
Content Marketing Executive

Employee relations – the manner in which managers and HR representatives interact with employees – can have a huge impact on workplace culture.

Effective employee relations go beyond basic human resources functions; they encompass everything that makes a company appealing to professionals. The ideal workplace is one where employers have systems in place to measure, maintain and improve engagement and staff morale. Together, these practices reduce workplace conflict and increase productivity.

What are employee relations?

The CIPD defines employee relations as ‘the relationship between employers and employees’, and responsibility for its overall management usually falls within the HR department’s remit.

Often seen as a formal strategy or practice, it encompasses conflict resolution, addressing grievances, and promoting a positive workplace culture.

How can organisations go about improving employee relations?

Workplace conflict is a fact of working life, and many organisations navigate employee relations issues on a daily basis. However, there are some steps that can be taken to ensure employee relations remain positive, these include:

Instil trust

To be effective, HR must be a trusted business partner for employees at all levels in the organisation.

With 47% of HR professionals claiming they are dealing with more employee relations issues now than they were before the pandemic, it’s worth remembering that trust forms the foundation of strong employee relations.

Businesses can cultivate trust by demonstrating transparency, fairness, and integrity in their actions and decisions. Encourage open dialogue, listen to employee concerns, and be consistent in policies and practices – because when employees trust their employers, they are more engaged, loyal, and motivated.

Improve communication

Effective communication is essential for creating a collaborative and cohesive work environment. Businesses should invest in clear and reliable communication channels to keep employees informed about company updates, changes in policies or procedures, and expectations.

Managers and HR representatives should increase their ‘shop floor’ presence, making themselves more accessible and approachable to staff. Encourage two-way communication by hosting regular meetings and provide opportunities for open discussions with workers at all levels.

Clear communication will always help to mitigate any misunderstandings, while also building rapport and strengthening key relationships.

Provide feedback

Regular feedback and support help the development and growth of employees – both inside and outside the place of work.

Employees who feel well supported by their line manager are three times more likely to feel engaged at work. They are also far more likely to remain with their current employer – showing the difference constructive feedback can make.

It’s also important to acknowledge achievements, praising employees at monthly or weekly meetings for their accomplishments and positive contributions. This in turn will serve to motivate those recognised and inspire others to share in the success.

Offer career development and progression

Investing in employee development demonstrates a commitment to the long-term success of the workforce, leading to employees often feeling happier and more productive. Providing opportunities for skill enhancement, training programmes, and mentorship initiatives can help professionals achieve their career goals.

It may be worth speaking to employees about the skills and experiences they want to gain, and then adjust their role to help them achieve this. Encourage internal promotions and advancement opportunities, allowing employees to see a clear path for growth within the organisation.

This is a twofold approach, as a focus on career development enhances employee engagement and strengthens those all-important retention rates.

Value your employees

Employees who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. Let them know they are valued. It’s not uncommon to see that many employees actually need/want to hear this on a regular basis. Praising a good job or well-handled situation will make them feel like they are an asset to the team.

Show genuine interest in employees' wellbeing, recognise their individual strengths, and empower them to take ownership of their work. On the back of this, recognition in a public setting (like a meeting or group call) can help motivate some personality types. On the flip side, consider other ways to recognise good work for those personality types who prefer less public praise.

When employees feel valued, they are more committed to doing a good job, contributing to the organisation's success.

Be flexible

According to our 2024 salary guides, flexibility in working arrangements is increasingly important in today's workplace - with flexi-time and a four day working week both hugely desirable.

Creating a work environment that gives employees the flexibility to pursue interests outside of the office can ultimately create a stronger workforce and promote better relations between employees and employers.

This can be done by offering flexible work schedules, remote work options, or alternative arrangements to accommodate employees' diverse needs and preferences. There’s a growing need to recognise the importance of work-life balance and provide support mechanisms to help employees manage their personal and professional responsibilities effectively – which can lead to employee job satisfaction, reduced stress, and an increase in overall morale.

If you are looking for a talented professional to join your team, or seeking a career change, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today.