Employee relations as a function is becoming increasingly important in the workplace, irrespective of industry. Although employee relations policies and processes are often managed by specialists, employers should strive to involve their employees in programs designed to improve employee relations. Active participation in improving relationships between workers leads to heightened employee engagement which, in turn, results in greater employee retention and enhanced productivity. To do this, specialists as well as generalists should conduct employee relations training. We will go into more detail about how your organization can do this below.
The foundation of employee relations
Employee relations (ER), often part of the human resources (HR) department, is responsible for creating positive relationships and cultivating a positive work environment that increases employee engagement, employee productivity and employee satisfaction. Organizations manage employee relations through designing, implementing and tracking specialized programs regarding subjects such as workplace issues management and employee-management liaisons.
While they may sound similar, employee relations (also called industrial relations) is distinct from labor relations. Employee relations is concerned with internal relationships within an organization whereas labor relations focuses on employees’ relationships with bodies outside of the organization, namely collective bargaining through trade unions.
To foster positive employee relations within an organization, ER managers must conduct employee relations training courses. This type of training program consists of a variety of lessons aimed at educating employees about employee relations, what the organization is doing to improve them and how employees can help achieve these goals. It can also include teaching employees about employee relations law and regulations.
The ultimate objective of employee relations training is to have everyone — from interns to executives — on board. Benefits of employee relations training include:
1. Strengthened bonds
When workers understand how their organization is working to enhance its employee relations, they feel more connected to management and each other. This connection helps establish and reinforce their trust which is crucial in helping them feel supported.
2. Enhanced communications
Training helps employees understand that they’re allowed to raise concerns or ask questions when they need clarification. This prevents miscommunication or misunderstanding from spreading around the workplace (also known as “water cooler gossip”) which can sometimes cripple an organization.
3. Increased resilience
Team members must understand any changes that take place in an organization. When employees recognize and appreciate an organization’s transparency, it helps them adapt to alterations made in the workplace.
The impact of employee relations on employee performance
Employee engagement is an employee’s emotional investment and commitment to an organization beyond just working to earn a paycheck. It’s what drives employees to go the extra mile. Employees are engaged when they feel truly connected to each other and their organization as a whole. This connection drives loyalty and dedication. Engaged employees care about the quality of work they produce and actively want to improve their skills. They endeavor to increase their productivity.
To become more engaged, team members must recognize what their organization is doing to improve employee relations. Managers can achieve this by conducting training sessions that explain the main elements of an organization’s employee relations strategy, which include:
1. Remuneration and employee benefits
Employees want to be compensated fairly for their time and effort. By outlining how an organization compensates employees and the perks or rewards they can receive, they’ll feel more valued and appreciated.
2. Roles and responsibilities
Many employees often don’t realize how their work relates to that of other employees to form the bigger picture. Employees feel empowered when they understand how their work is important and contributes to the entire organization.
3. Values and mission
Often, employees don’t fully recognize the values that their employer aims to espouse or even know the mission of the organization. Consequently, they feel a disconnect which leads to disengagement. Employees will feel more connected to their organization when they realize what it’s trying to achieve and the purpose behind their work.
4. Workplace policies
Employees need to appreciate what policies an organization has in place regarding aspects such as performance management, harassment, disciplinary action, fair hiring practices, conflict management and anti-discrimination. Employees will feel comfortable, safe and supported when they can appreciate how their workplace is ensuring their wellbeing.
5. Professional development programs
An organization should provide continuing education such as skills development courses and offer opportunities for career advancement. Employees will feel more invested in an organization when they know how an organization invests in them.
How to introduce employee relations training to your organization
Although employee relations is often a specific subset of human resources management, it’s suggested that an organization has an employee relations specialist who focuses on how human resources practices work toward fostering harmonious workplace relationships. Therefore, it is employee relations managers’ responsibility to implement employee relations training.
When introducing training to employees, managers need to explain the reasoning behind the programs first. Employees are unlikely to be active participants in these programs if they don’t understand the purpose behind completing them.
Once everyone is on board, you can start facilitating a training course schedule. Ensure that sessions don’t clash with employees’ work or encroach on employees’ free time either. Space sessions over a period of time so employees don’t become overwhelmed with information. You can administer feedback surveys after each session to gauge their effectiveness. It might also be helpful to offer incentives for active participation.
In summary, employee relations specialists should conduct training sessions to help workers understand the importance of employee relationships and to take a hands-on approach to strengthen them. When an organization’s employees have robust and mutually beneficial connections, everyone wins.
HR Acuity offers a vast array of software specifically designed to help streamline your organization’s human resources and employee relations management processes. Our programs are data-driven to ensure that you can implement, adjust and monitor your HR and ER programs with confidence and ease. By using software that has been developed with employee experience front-of-mind, you can track the success of your employee relations policies and strategies. Contact us to request a demo to discover how we can help your organization and its employees achieve greatness.