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What Is Employee Relations? - Definition & Concept

What Is Employee Relations? - Definition & Concept
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  • 0:01 Workers Are Important
  • 0:20 What Does 'Employee…
  • 1:50 Elements of a Good…
  • 2:47 Communication
  • 3:55 Employee…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrea Rea

Andrea is a practicing attorney and MBA with 15 years experience in health care administration, litigation and business law.

Happy employees are productive employees. Successful businesses know how to manage relationships to build lasting employee satisfaction. Learn the meaning of employee relations and understand the essential elements of an effective employee relations program.

Workers Are Important

The most important part of any business is its people. No business can run effectively without them. But people don't work in a vacuum; they need to communicate and work with others to get their jobs done. Employers need to manage relationships in the workplace to keep the business functioning smoothly, avoid problems, and make sure employees are performing at their best.

What Does 'Employee Relations' Mean?

The term 'employee relations' refers to a company's efforts to manage relationships between employers and employees. An organization with a good employee relations program provides fair and consistent treatment to all employees so they will be committed to their jobs and loyal to the company. Such programs also aim to prevent and resolve problems arising from situations at work.

Employee relations programs are typically part of a human resource strategy designed to ensure the most effective use of people to accomplish the organization's mission. Human resource strategies are deliberate plans companies use to help them gain and maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Employee relations programs focus on issues affecting employees, such as pay and benefits, supporting work-life balance, and safe working conditions.

One of the most effective ways for a company to ensure good employee relations is to adopt a human resource strategy that places a high value on employees as stakeholders in the business. Stakeholders are people who are committed, financially or otherwise, to a company and are affected by its success or failure. When employees are treated as more than just paid laborers, but as actual stakeholders with the power to affect outcomes, they feel more valued for the job they do.

Think about the last job you truly loved. Was it because you were treated like an important part of the team? You probably had an interest in seeing the business succeed, like a stakeholder.

Elements of a Good Employee Relations Plan

An effective employee relations program starts with clearly written policies. Employee relations policies describe the company's philosophy, rules, and procedures for addressing employee-related matters and resolving problems in the workplace. Many companies have one or more employee relations representatives, people who work in the human resources department to ensure that company policies are followed fairly and consistently. Employee relations representatives work with employees and supervisors to resolve problems and address concerns.

An employee relations program is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Strategies for good employee relations can take many forms and vary by a number of factors, including industry, location, company size, and even individual leadership philosophies. For example, issues that concern construction workers on the job can be very different from the problems facing nurses or accountants. Nevertheless, there are some elements that all good employee relations programs share.

Communication

Perhaps the most important element for successful relationships with employees is communication. To feel engaged in the business, employees need to be informed of what's going on with the company, including management's plans and how those plans may affect their jobs. Conversely, when management withholds information, this can result in mistrust of leadership and damage to employee morale. Management can keep workers informed of the latest developments by any number of means, including email announcements, newsletters, employee portals, regular meetings, and special events. Effective communication goes both ways; employees should feel as though their opinions, feelings, and concerns are being heard by managers.

Open lines of communication can be informal, such as day-to-day interactions between employees and supervisors, or formal mechanisms for employee feedback, such as workplace satisfaction surveys or grievance and appeals procedures. Grievances and appeals are processes that allow employees to challenge management decisions or labor issues through a formal dispute resolution process.

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