7 powerful ways to boost employee relations in the workplace
See how an intranet works
Learn how an intranet works with this short video.
8 mins read
Wed, Jun 28, '23
An organization’s workforce is its biggest asset. Neglected employee relations can have devastating consequences, destabilizing company culture, productivity, morale, and, ultimately, bottom-line profits.
Recognizing their employees as their most important customers, contemporary workplaces prioritize the employee experience like never before. With data-driven HR teams gaining greater insight into employee experiences, the field of employee relations is expected to grow by 12.8% between 2022 and 2030, reaching $56 billion.
Let’s explore the definition of employee relations and delve into seven ways to build a more positive connection with your workforce.
What is employee relations?
The term “employee relations” refers to the relationship between employers and employees. The employee relations definition may seem straightforward, but it’s quite complex.
In one view, the concept focuses on the overall interactions between an organization and its workforce. Measuring employee turnover, satisfaction, and engagement levels through aggregated HR metrics is the best way to gauge this collective relationship.
However, this broad picture misses the closer look at individual employee experiences. As a result, many organizations take a more individual approach by looking at the entire employee lifecycle and emphasizing the direct relationships between employees, teams, and leaders.
Exploring employee relations offers a wide range of opportunities, such as assessing the relationship between an organization and specific groups of employees that share similar traits, such as:
- High and low performers
- Corporate learning cohorts
- Gender, racial, and ethnic groups
- Generational identities
Good employee relations will lead to a more motivated and productive workforce that prioritizes each team member's well-being and individual goals.
Human resources vs. employee relations
The terms human resources (HR) and employee relations are often used interchangeably, but it's crucial to understand their distinct roles within an organization.
Traditional HR teams have a broad scope, overseeing various responsibilities from recruitment and benefits to legal compliance and training. Despite their efficiency, these processes often respond to issues after they have already occurred rather than proactively seeking to prevent them. This presents a unique opportunity for employee relations.
As a critical part of the HR function, employee relations focuses on building and maintaining healthy relationships with all of the employees in the organization. Modern people operations teams see employee relations as the heart of improving the employee experience.
Why are employee relations important?
Employee relations set the tone for a company’s culture. A company that doesn’t prioritize its relationships with employees at every level may face challenges in attracting, recruiting, and retaining top talent.
Hiring employees is an expensive endeavor. The longer employees stay with your organization, the more profitable they become. In addition, a brand's image can be damaged if it attracts unwanted negative media attention due to poor employee relations.
Good employee relations within your organization will lead to a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce. It is also the key to improving employee satisfaction and reducing high absenteeism and turnover rates.
Employee relations examples
Employee relations encompass many aspects of the workplace environment. It can be helpful to review potential workplace scenarios to prepare for different situations, anticipating employee behavior and preparing for it. Here are a few practical use cases where employee relations help organizations shine.
Providing equal opportunities
Organizations that embrace positive employee relations create diverse, equal, and inclusive cultures and ensure equal opportunities for all employees. They also take active measures to address any form of discrimination.
Other organizations may tolerate discrimination or bias, resulting in a toxic work culture and a high turnover rate.
Encouraging transparent communication
Another way to foster positive employee relations in practice is by encouraging open, clear communication. Regular team meetings and one-on-one meetings encourage feedback. You can also use intranet technology to minimize information chaos and ensure no one misses crucial updates, feedback on their work, or praise from their peers.
In organizations with unclear communication channels, employees are more likely to misunderstand each other, engage less, and are more prone to quiet quitting.
Promoting work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance is crucial for attracting highly qualified candidates in today's competitive job market. You can offer flexible work schedules, remote work options, and employee well-being programs through a positive employee relations approach.
Organizations that ignore work-life balance experience higher levels of employee burnout, high overtime rates, lower productivity, and higher turnover rates, especially in the first year after hiring new employees.
Mediating conflict resolution
Positive employee relations provide effective conflict resolution mechanisms, such as mediation or counseling, to address workplace disputes fairly and on time. Ignoring or mishandling conflicts creates a toxic work environment and fosters employee resentment.
Engaging employees positively
Another example of the effect of employee relations is encouraging employee involvement. Provide opportunities for participation in decision-making processes through regular team meetings, surveys, and suggestion programs.
Organizations that use an autocratic, top-down management approach often exclude employees from decision-making, which leads to disengagement and reduced morale.
7 effective ways to foster positive employee relations
Employee relations are crucial if you want to attract and retain talented, high-performing employees. Let’s look at ways to foster or improve positive employee relations within your organization.
1. Set clear goals and objectives
Setting measurable goals is the first step to improving employee relations. Research indicates that effective goal-setting can help predict employee outcomes. After all, what can’t be measured cannot be improved.
Measure improvements in employee relations by setting people ops department goals. A wide range of metrics can be tied to these goals, including:
- Employee engagement rate
- Turnover rate
- Employee satisfaction
Creating career development goals directly with employees can also help them track their progress. Many HR management platforms include functionality to create and track goals which can be revisited by managers and their direct reports during performance reviews or other one-on-one evaluation sessions.
2. Create (and enforce) supportive policies
As organizations evolve, policies can sometimes become outdated or out of sync. Progressive companies aim to improve employee relations by auditing and updating policies regularly to stay on top of current trends. Company policies can reflect issues such as equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion.
In addition to creating policies, it is important to communicate them to the workforce and inform them of any critical changes. This ensures clear communication and a clear understanding of appropriate behavior in the workplace and how to handle complaints at work in a healthy, safe, and inclusive manner.
3. Ensure timely and transparent communication
Installing a good company intranet is key to avoiding miscommunications and inefficient operations. Not only can all files be accessed anytime, anywhere, and by using a single search bar, but internal communications flow more smoothly and are contained in one place. The better communication flows within a company, the more employees develop a sense of trust and transparency.
In addition, by integrating features like a single, connected search bar, a well-designed intranet system like Happeo can save 20% of your team's time and increase productivity.
4. Give feedback regularly (and receive it, too)
Giving and receiving feedback regularly is an essential part of employee relations. A poor feedback channel can lead to frustration and conflict among employees, but frequent and meaningful feedback can help them feel valued and appreciated. By delivering a healthy mix of positive and constructive feedback, you can enhance employee experience and satisfaction levels.
It’s also essential to proactively ask for feedback from employees. HR teams that receive frequent employee feedback can monitor the workforce’s pulse and adapt quickly.
5. Offer valuable growth opportunities
The success of any company relies on its workforce. Businesses must innovate, evolve, and grow to compete, and if employees aren’t growing at an optimal rate, progress will suffer.
To foster good employee relations, consider making employee development a crucial part of your company culture. You can create initiatives that allow workers to learn new skills and stay current on best practices. Your organization will benefit by growing faster, boosting employee engagement, and reducing rollover, especially among high-performing employees.
6. Cultivate a healthy company culture
Company culture significantly impacts employee relations and how employees feel at work. Culture refers to your organization's shared values, attitudes, and practices that are established and perpetuated over time.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 49% of US employees think about quitting their jobs — and 20% have actually quit — due to poor company culture. This turnover costs $233 billion, but the intangible costs associated with a demotivated workforce are much higher. Poor company culture leads to quiet quitting, high absenteeism rates, and reduced productivity.
7. Promote employee wellness and a healthy work-life balance
The invisible costs of poor employee relations drain hundreds of billions of revenue from organizations annually. A typical example is employee presenteeism, where employees report to work without being productive, usually because they're ill. The cost of presenteeism is estimated at over $150 billion a year in the US.
Lack of focus on employee wellness and work-life balance has a negative impact in other ways, such as increased stress and burnout, which can further hurt team morale. Companies can benefit significantly from investing in employee well-being programs. This can reduce the negative impact and improve employee satisfaction.
Strengthen employee relations and improve satisfaction with Happeo
The most effective way to power positive employee relations is by using technology that allows you to:
- Facilitate transparent communications company-wide
- Offer regular feedback and praise on projects
- Boost productivity with an integrated intranet
- Track, analyze, and report on employee engagement
- Let employees work efficiently from anywhere, anytime
With Happeo, you can do all of these things and more. Organizations that transition to Happeo see unparalleled transformations in their employee relations in less than 6 – 8 weeks.
Book a demo with our experts to witness how our platform helps make your employees up to 20% more productive, boosts engagement, and enhances employee satisfaction. Or, check out our blog for more insights into improving employee relations.