What is Employee Relations? - Employee Relations 101

November 18, 2022

Ever wonder why employees of one company are living the life, while the employees of another company look unhappy? It happens when the work culture is toxic.

Employee relations are an integral part of keeping your work culture healthy. 

Essentially, company culture is how you do what in the workplace. It’s the total of your formal and informal systems, behaviors, and values, all of which create an experience for your employees and customers. 

At its core, company culture is how things get done around the workplace.

Company culture is crucial because it directly affects performance on key metrics, including finances, employee retention, innovation, and customer service. 

With a good company culture, the organization not only ensures a safe and healthy environment for its employees to work in but also increases the loyalty and efficiency of the employee towards the organization.

Thus keeping the employees happy and focusing on their well-being is an integral part of company culture. This leads us to employee relations. 

In this article, we will talk about employee relations and how it affects a company.

What is Employee Relations?

Employee relations are defined as an organization’s efforts to create and maintain a positive relationship with its employees. 

By maintaining positive, constructive employee relations, organizations hope to keep employees loyal and more engaged in their work. 

By maintaining positive, constructive employee relations, organizations hope to keep employees loyal and more engaged in their work. 

To maintain positive employee relations, an organization must first view employees as stakeholders and contributors to the company rather than simply as paid laborers. 

This perspective encourages those in management and executive roles to seek employee feedback, value their input more highly, and consider the employee experience when making decisions that affect the entire company.

Employee Relations Strategies Statistics

Below given are some statistics we have collected from various sources about the strategies of employee relations:

  • The global workforce is 55.3% male and 44.7% female, cites LinkedIn’s Workforce Diversity Report 2020. Women have made significant strides in the workplace but remain under-represented compared to men.
  • Only 42% of U.S. employees look forward to coming to work, compared to 84% of those recognized by Fortune 100 as “The Best Companies to Work For.” Fortune 100 
  • 65% of employees are looking for a new job. PwC
  • The World Health Organization has codified a new type of health condition that threatens employees’ health. “Chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” is the WHO official diagnosis. O.C. Tanner
  • 60% of workers report being stressed all or most of their time at work. (Udemy)
  • 86% of millennials say they would stay in their current job if the company offered career training and development. (Udemy)
  • Workers who give their managers a low rating are four times more likely to be interviewing for other positions than those who don’t. (TINYpulse)

Employee Relations vs. Employee Relationship Management (ERM)

While employee relations is a term used to describe employee relationships within an organization, employee relationship management describes the process of creating good relations in the workplace.

Employee relationship management happens when an employer manages the relationship between all employees in the company. 

It covers the entire employee journey, which starts from an employee’s first day and lasts until they leave the company.

Good employee relationship management goes beyond whether or not you and your employees get along. 

Proper employee relationship management must include:

  • Effective communication.
  • Employee engagement initiatives.
  • A structured employee experience plan.
  • Implementing the right tools and technology.

7 Reasons Why Employee Relations Are Important

Employee relations are essential for the company culture as well as the company as a whole. Below stated are some of the reasons why employee relations are important in an organization.

Employee Empowerment

Employee empowerment involves giving employees responsibility and autonomy to manage their own work and make decisions to achieve their own goals. 

You need to have good employee relations and communications strategies to empower your employees.

For employees to feel empowered, they need to understand clearly what your company’s mission and vision are. 

Also, they have to be able to understand how their work contributes to the overall business success. 

Trust is crucial for successful employee empowerment. Managers who trust their employees and communicate the company’s strategy and goals regularly often have no problems giving more power to their employees.

Employee Retention

High employee turnover is one of the biggest problems companies face today. The cost of an employee leaving is significant. 

Therefore, many employees try to avoid that expense. Employee retention can be improved in many ways. 

Employee relationship management is one of them. Employees who feel like they don’t know what is going on in the company feel frustrated and isolated. 

As a result, they feel insecure and often consider new job opportunities. 

So what employers can do is they can make the work environment safer, secure, and employee-friendly while keeping their well-being in mind. 

Employee retention is basically the company’s efforts to make the employees stay and work in the company.

Employee Productivity

Employee satisfaction and engagement boost employee productivity. Companies with well-structured employee relations enjoy higher productivity, revenues, and profits. 

If your employees know exactly what their goals are and if you give them constant feedback on their work, they will work harder towards achieving their goals.

Employee Experience

Good employee experience is one of the biggest plus points of healthy workplace culture. 

To deliver a good employee experience, employers need to be ready to improve the way they communicate with employees. 

Open and transparent communication helps employees feel involved, which often leads to higher employee engagement. 

In contrast, poor employee communications lead to insecurity, lack of engagement, and honesty in the workplace.

Employee Engagement

Companies with better employee communications have much higher rates of employee engagement. 

Given below are a few tips about how a company can improve employee communications to drive better employee engagement:

  • Share, review and update employee expectations.
  • Encourage open communication to identify problems and issues.
  • Appreciate consistent feedback and recognition.
  • Promote discussion and sharing of thoughts.

Employee Satisfaction

Employee engagement is often related to employee satisfaction. Less engaged employees are less satisfied.

Poor employee relations can be one of the main causes of that. So, a company has to ensure that all the employees are happy and satisfied with the work environment.

Improving employee relations will ensure your team is satisfied and wants to work harder towards a common goal of the company.

Employee Advocacy

It is a benefit many companies are trying to achieve. 

The ability to reach employees’ connections and use your company’s social capital to its full potential can have a big impact on the company’s visibility, brand awareness, and productivity

To achieve employee advocacy, employers have to be ready to improve employee relations. They need to keep employees in the loop and share important content.

The Core Characteristics of Good Employee Relations

These are the goals that are achieved when a company focuses on good employee relations:

Mutual Respect

The primary goal of good employee relations is mutual respect. Their managers, peers, and customers must respect employees to work effectively and be committed to their jobs.

Good Communication

Good communication is essential for any company to have productive employees. 

If people feel they can speak up and share their concerns with the management team, they are likely to be more committed to their job. 

The management team needs to be open-minded and listen to what the employees say so that everyone can make informed decisions about how things should move forward. 

This also helps keep morale high, showing that everyone is working together towards a common goal.


A transparent company makes it easy for its employees to understand how things work within the organization. 

This allows them to feel comfortable working there because they know what your policies are and how they affect them personally on a daily basis. 

Employees will also have an easier time reaching out if they need help or support from the management team because everyone knows where things stand through transparency practices such as open door policies or regular meetings with all staff members.

Employee Commitment To Core Values

Employees are more likely to stay if they believe in the company's vision, mission, and values.

They will also be more likely to stay if they feel they have a stake in the company's success.

Managers must create an environment where employees can understand and appreciate the company's core values. 

You can do this by sharing them with employees through training sessions and other means, such as having employees sign a contract that makes them aware of these values. 

Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, And Belonging

Employees who feel the company is committed to diversity and inclusion are much more likely to want to stay at the company. 

They might even become part of the team by volunteering at events or activities that further support diversity efforts within the organization. 

In addition to supporting diversity efforts within an organization, managers must ensure that all employees feel welcome at work so they can do their best daily.

Supportive Managers and Leadership

A supportive manager is honest, fair, and open with employees. 

They provide an open environment where employees can express their concerns and problems without fear of reprisal. 

They listen to employees' suggestions and ideas and encourage them to share their opinions.

Employee Training and Development

Training is one of the most crucial aspects of employee relations because it helps improve productivity and morale in the workplace. 

Employees who receive training can perform better at their jobs because they have more knowledge about their roles and new skills to help them succeed in their careers. 

The Core Characteristics of Bad Employee Relations

Mistrust of The Employees in The Management

The core characteristic of bad employee relations is a lack of trust between management and employees. 

This results in employees not being treated with respect, dignity, or fairness.

Employees may feel mistreated because they are not given enough information about what is happening at work and why certain decisions have been made. 

They also feel that their opinions are not valued or listened to by their managers.

High Absenteeism

Bad employee relations can lead to high levels of absenteeism. Employees may feel they have no choice but to take time off work because they do not want to deal with the problems created by bad employee relations. 

They may also fear losing their jobs if they do not take time off work because they were involved in an incident that caused them distress.

Unresponsive HR

Another core characteristic of bad employee relations is a lack of responsiveness from HR when issues arise within the business. 

This can cause frustration among managers and staff members who need help from their HR department but feel nothing will change if they raise their concerns about poor performance or unfair treatment from other staff members. 

Inflexible Policies

A company's policy is the blueprint for how employees are expected to behave and interact with one another. 

If a company has a strict policy, it will be hard for employees to know what is expected of them in their jobs. 

If there are no clearly defined guidelines, it will be difficult for employees to understand whether they are doing the right thing. 

When policies are unclear, employees may feel they have no choice but to act out of character or violate the law.

Interpersonal Conflicts

Many companies have policies that dictate how employees should communicate with each other. 

These policies can be beneficial but also cause problems because they create rigid expectations for communication between coworkers that may not always be appropriate. 

Employees who feel stifled by rigid communication guidelines may become irritated with coworkers who don't follow them and may take their frustration out on the wrong person. 

When policies are too rigid, there is a risk that interpersonal conflicts will arise between coworkers, which could lead to problems within an office environment or even between departments within a company.

Employee Injuries and Mistakes

Employees make mistakes all the time. Sometimes they make big ones that hurt others or damage property, but they often make minor or even avoidable errors. 

These errors can be a source of frustration for supervisors and employees because they prevent employees from doing their jobs well.

The Consequences of Poor Employee Relations

Poor employee relations can have a significant impact on your business. They can lead to high turnover, poor performance, and low productivity. 

In addition, these issues can negatively affect your company's reputation and ability to attract job candidates and retain current employees. Below are some of the most common consequences of poor employee relations-

  • High turnover
  • Poor employee performance
  • Negative company reputation
  • Difficulty attracting job candidates
  • Missed revenue goals

Employee Relations Best Practices

1. Honest Communication 

As we say, communication is the key to a healthy work environment. 

Open and honest communication in the workplace is mandatory for high-performing teams.

Without open communication, tasks can go uncompleted, team members can become disengaged, and company culture can get lost. 

So the organization needs to have honest and good communication with the employees and cater to their needs from time to time. 

2. Unify Your Team To Get Behind The Vision

 A vision summarizes the purpose of a business in one or two sentences and helps employers and employees work toward a common goal. 

The vision gives a clear direction to your employees, so they know why they are doing what they do and how that fits within the larger corporate vision. 

A company needs to have its vision, goals, and objectives and state them to the employees so that they can work towards them together.

3. Trust Your People

Trust in the workplace means employees enjoy a culture of honesty, psychological safety, and mutual respect. 

They're proud of where they work and are more willing to go above and beyond for your organization. 

Trust in the workplace also helps employees feel secure in their jobs and, in turn, reduces turnover.

4. Recognition & Appreciation 

Appreciation is about someone, and recognition is about what someone has done.

The critical difference is that appreciation is a way to show gratitude for a person's value, whereas recognition shows gratitude for their actions. 

A company must recognize and appreciate the employee's efforts from time to time to stay motivated and loyal to the company for a long time.

5. Invest In Your People

Make sure your employees have a comfortable workspace that is conducive to productivity. 

Increase salaries if necessary to be competitive with your organization's direct counterparts. Consider adding health insurance or other benefits. 

Investing in the well-being of your employees goes a very long way. This would encourage the employees to be more loyal and efficient in contributing to the company's profitability.

6. No Favorites

Favoritism is when someone in a leadership position demonstrates favor toward one employee over others. 

This is usually unrelated to their job performance and instead occurs due to a personal bond or friendship shared between the two. 

The favored employee may receive more advanced projects or promotions than others with better qualifications. 

They might also receive fewer or no repercussions for being late or inability to meet deadlines. 

Eventually, this will demoralize the other employees and make them work less efficiently for the company.

5 Examples of Employee Relations

These are a few examples of how to promote good employee relations in your work environment: 

Resolving Ongoing Conflicts

Not everyone is going to get along at all times.

Dissatisfied employees may argue with their managers or even with each other. 

Employee relations teams will be essential in diffusing these situations and finding the best solution. 

Dealing With Employee Misconduct

Even with the best employee relations strategy, HR teams will find themselves in challenging situations. 

Unfortunately, employee misconduct, such as violating health safety regulations and harassment, does happen. Therefore, teams need a plan to deal with these problems.

Onboarding Support For New Recruits

Employee relations teams are responsible for the entire onboarding process. Teams must create welcome packs, set up meetings with key members, and prepare their equipment. 

Office Health and Safety Procedures 

Employee relations professionals are responsible for putting together building safety procedures. 

They must also provide everyone with the correct training and manage everything efficiently if something happens.

Providing Ongoing Support for Employees

Employee relations processes don't stop once a new team member joins the company. 

You also need to provide ongoing support through learning and development programs, mentoring, and coaching. 

How do You Handle Employee Relations Issues?

There are many types of employee relations issues, and the way to handle them can vary depending on the particular issue. 

However, these are some general tips you can go by. One of them is to listen. Give your full attention and focus on what is being said vocally and physically. 

Another tip is to educate and communicate. The more your employees know the rules and expectations, the better, as consistency across the board is the key here. 

If some employees have privileges over others, no one will care what you say.

Finally, document everything. Keeping accurate legal and employee records is important regarding employee relations issues. 

You will find yourself needing to refer back to them time and again. They will be instrumental if an employee lawsuit is brought against the company.

FAQs: Employee Relations

What are examples of employee relations?

Best practices of employee relations include: open communication, getting your team behind your vision, investing in your people, giving recognition and appreciation, and don't play favorites.

What is the role of employee relations?

Employee relations focuses on creating and delivering people practices that develop - and maintain - positive working relationships between an organization and its people. 

Working closely with unions and employee representatives, you'll need to ensure that people's practices are fair and transparent.

Is employee relations the same as HR?

Employee Relations sound very much like Human Resources (HR).

That's because the primary focus of an HR department is to prevent and resolve any conflicts between employees, management, and staff. 

Employee Relations is not the same as HR, but it does fall under the same umbrella.

Conclusion: Employee Relations

Good employee relations are about more than organizing events and quirky office designs.

Career growth opportunities, the right tools for learning, and reminding everyone that they're essential to the company are all equally as important. 

Employee relations can make or break the workplace climate and your organizational performance.

The best practices we shared in this article can help build strong employee relations in your organization.

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