Managing your employees is a lot like managing a relationship — people only stick around if they're happy.
But how can you be sure your employees are happy with the way things are? That’s where employee relations come into play. HR professionals wear many hats in their day-to-day work and none are more important than the role of an employee relations liaison.
What are employee relations?
Employee relations refers to the efforts your company takes to build, strengthen, and maintain the relationships between employees and their employer.
Every company can benefit from incorporating an employee relations program into their larger talent management strategy. Whether you have a full-time person dedicated to the role or you’d like to train everyone on your team to do the work together, it’s in your best interest to brush up on your employee relations skills.
Looking to jump ahead? Click here to download your FREE employee engagement checklist, complete with 25 action items.
Why is having an employee relations program important?
The first step to improving your employee relations is to understand the benefit of a great employee relations program. It’s about more than opening up communication between employees and their employer. With the right employee relations program, you can take a multifaceted approach to creating a better work environment and company culture.
How does employee relations improve the workplace?
When you make employee relations a primary focus of your HR strategy, you might be surprised to find that other aspects of your company culture improve as well. Here are four ways that improved employee relations can improve your workplace.
1. It creates a stronger bond between employees and managers
The current state of relationships between managers and employees is pretty bleak. 58 percent of people say they trust strangers more than their own boss [Forbes]. It’s statistics like this that should make you take a step back and evaluate your current employee relations efforts.
Are you doing the most you can to create a bond of trust between your employees and their employer? Are you providing your managers everything they need to succeed? Are you doing the most you can to empower your employees?
When you make a conscious effort to work on the relationships between employees and their employers, you’re bound to get better results than not doing anything at all. Focus on what your employees need, then help your company give their employees those things. You’ll be surprised how quickly the little things can improve employee relations.
2. It increases your employee productivity
A bonus side effect of improved employee relations is an increase in employee productivity. A study from Social Market Foundation reported that happy employees are up to 20 percent more productive than unhappy employees.
It doesn’t take an academic study to make the connection there. Increased communication and relationship building will improve the mood and morale of your employees, and in turn, improve their productivity.
People thrive in environments where they feel cared for, respected, and understood. Use your employee relations program to foster a work environment where your employees can perform their best and the rest will fall into place.
3. It increases your employee engagement
One of the buzzwords circulating the corporate world at the moment is employee engagement. It’s something every company is trying to achieve, but few know how. The trick isn’t bean bag chairs and beer on Friday afternoons – it’s investing in your employees’ happiness.
A better employee relations strategy will create an environment where employees feel happier, more engaged, and more productive. And as an added bonus? Increased employee engagement can impact your bottom line in a big way.
4. It turns your employees into brand ambassadors
When all of these things come together under an employee relations strategy, you get employees that are proud to say they work for your company. You can use your employee relations strategy to turn your own workforce into employee brand ambassadors.
An employee brand ambassador can contribute a lot to your company, including increased social recruiting, brand awareness, and more. Your employees are going to be talking about their job whether they like working for you or not – so wouldn’t you rather them have something positive to say?
3 tips for improving employee relations
Now that you understand the value of improved employee relations, it’s time to learn more about how you can improve things in your own office. Here are 3 quick tips (plus 25 action items) you can incorporate into your employee relations strategy today.
1. Promote open communication
Communication is key to any successful employee relations program. In order to improve the dynamic between employees and employer, you need to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing. Brushing up on your leadership communication skills will help you create an environment where all of your employees feel comfortable sharing. Once you’ve laid the groundwork there, you can move onto the next step.
2. Prioritize employee appreciation
A key factor of employee relations in making your employees feel valued. A study from Octanner showed that 79 percent of people who quit their jobs cited ‘lack of appreciation’ as a cause for them leaving. Don't assume your employees know that you appreciate all they do for you. Make it a priority to recognize a job well done and highlight your highest performers. Showing your employees you care is fundamental to improving your employee relations.
Arming your team with the right resources is key to your success. Download this employee engagement checklist to make sure you're all on the same page.
3. Offer your employees growth opportunities
As your company changes and grows, you need to allow your employees to do the same. The competitive job market has employees more concerned than ever about developing and learning more to make themselves more desirable to employers.
More than 80 percent of employees would quit their jobs for better development opportunities [Cision]. This means it’s more important than ever to prioritize career development as part of your employee relations strategy.
Creating an environment where employees feel like they can grow and succeed will help improve employee relations and strengthen bonds within the organization. Remember, investing in your employees makes them want to invest back into the company.
Employee relations is all about relationship building
The ultimate goal of improving your employee relations is improving the relationship your employees have with your company. Taking a people-first approach to employee relations will create a ripple effect that stems throughout your company.
Lauren is a Content Marketing Manager at G2. You can find her work featured on CNBC, Yahoo Finance, and on the G2 Learning Hub. In her free time, Lauren enjoys watching true crime shows and spending time in the Chicago karaoke scene. (she/her/hers)