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5 Tactics to Up Your Employee Relations Game

May 26, 2022
HR Acuity

Improving your employee relations game goes a long way in helping to increase employee engagement and productivity, while also increasing retention and reducing the high cost of turnover. If The Great Resignation has taught us one thing, it’s that employees aren’t necessarily leaving because of pay, many are leaving due to company culture.  

Today we are also dealing with an increasingly remote workforce, which for many provides a better work-life balance. But how does company culture impact remote employees and what can employee relations do to promote a better employee experience for all?   shutterstock_310620167

If you want to improve employee relations in your organization, here are some good areas of focus to build strong relationships and provide a better sense of well-being for all employees, whether they are in the office or working remotely.  

Start on Day 1   

Onboarding new employees presents the perfect opportunity to establish effective communication and a welcoming employee experience from their very first day. Make sure that new employees understand that the door is always open to exchange ideas and provide employee feedback, which helps to ensure a positive work environment.   

Most organizations know to introduce a new employee to their team members to help them feel welcomed and to provide an on-boarding “buddy.” But a crucial step in elevating employee relations is also to share that the human resources team is available to them when they need to raise an issue or have questions. Describe the process up front so it’s clear you’re committed to transparency around how issues are handled.  

Promote a Culture of Transparency  

You may have heard the expression, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” The same is true of your organization. Secrecy breeds distrust, so if you want to encourage a workplace culture where people thrive, then transparency must be an employee relations value.  

Being open about what’s happening in the organization – good and bad – creates a culture of trust where employees feel safe. When they sense that the company is hiding something that affects them, they may seek new jobs and opportunities where transparency is valued and expected.  

Ensure that when company policies or procedures change, employees are made aware through email and even an all-company meeting so that expectations are set, and employees can ask clarifying questions or provide feedback. These types of check-ins make your employees feel valued and go a long way to improve employee satisfaction.  

Offer Training That Supports Growth Opportunities   

Training and development opportunities and initiatives that support employee career growth show employees that you care about their ability to grow within your company. Professional development creates a company culture where employees feel valued and shows that the organization has a vested interest in keeping and promoting them. Demonstrating this trust in and value of employees are foundational elements to employee relations – even if these initiatives are typically handled by your L&D team.   

According to a survey conducted by Ladders/Survey Monkey, millennials in particular said that career growth was more important than a starting salary when accepting an offer.   

Ensure too that you understand employees’ career objectives. Do they want to move to a different job function? If so, what are the skills they need and what are their goals? These kinds of conversations, handled skillfully by direct managers, reinforce the emotional contract between an organization and its employees, help bring it to life and bond people to their workplaces.  

Many organizations offer tuition reimbursement for educational opportunities that align with organization roles. This type of benefit shows an employee that the company is willing to invest in the employee’s future to help them achieve personal and organizational goals.    

Encourage and Celebrate Diversity  

Creating a work environment that recognizes and celebrates employee differences fosters an inclusive workplace. Make it a point to help employees better understand different cultures, ethnicities, age groups and employees who identify as LGBTQ+ by encouraging the formation of employee resource groups and planning activities around specific months that celebrate diversity.   

According to McKinsey research, gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers and ethnically-diverse companies are 35% more likely to do the same. Diversity isn’t just good for your employees, it’s also good for your bottom line.  

Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and results have a huge impact on your overall employee relations – and vice versa. How your ER team handles employee issues to identify and remove bias, to ensure equitable application of policies, and to take a stand when marginalized employees are treated inequitably has a direct link to the experience of diverse employees at work. Understanding that link is crucial to upping your overall ER function.  

Building a culture that celebrates diversity has to be a priority from the top down, and C-level executives and HR need to be accountable to ensure that diversity is front and center in terms of recruitment, compensation, performance management, training and development, and leadership planning and assessment, and yes – employee relations.   

Recognize Hard-Working, Dedicated Employees  

While compensation and good benefits add to any employee relationship, employees also crave recognition, rewards and the proverbial “pat on the back” as acknowledgement and incentives for good work.  

One way to keep employees loyal to your company is to promote a healthy work-life balance and flexible work schedules, especially for remote employee who prove they can achieve expected outcomes. Leaders need to recognize employees who are productive, cooperative and collaborative, and they need to go above and beyond to show they value and appreciate them. And HR should equip leaders with the framework to do just that.   

Promotions, career development opportunities, merit increases, bonuses or some extra time off all show employees that their employer recognizes their contributions and wants to keep them around.  

There are many other tactics you can employ to improve employee relations and employee engagement. Making sure that these five are in your employee experience toolkit will show employees you’re serious about creating two-way relationships, open communication and a positive work experience where all employees feel welcome, appreciated and enabled to do their very best work.  

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