Building Bridges, Not Barriers: The Art of Effective Employee Relations
HR is one of the most important departments at any company. They help hire and onboard new employees, manage paperwork and other important documentation, and do what they can to keep the lines of communication between employees and employers open. Your company is on top of human resources work, but what about employee relations?
What are employee relations?
Employee relations is a term used to describe the relationship between employees and their employers. People who do employee relations work can focus on fostering transparent communication in the workplace and creating policies that promote employees' emotional, physical, and psychological well-being.
Employee relations vs. human resources: The true difference
Some people use the terms human resources and employee relations interchangeably. Although there may be some overlap, it’s important to understand that they differ in some fundamental ways.
HR departments focus on the process of how organizations manage their individual employees through the employee lifecycle. Employee relations solely focuses on the collective relationships between organizations and their employees. Most HR teams have a broad scope of responsibilities that can range from legal compliance and training to conflict resolution. Employee relations professionals are laser-focused on any work that focuses on the employee/employer relationship.
Why employee relations matter
Overall, companies that value employee relations know how to engage, understand, and motivate their employees. Their employees are happy, productive, and have a high level of trust in their organization and each other. Work-life balance and culture tend to be top-tier at these workplaces, and that can come in handy when you need to bring on new employees.
Companies that focus on building employee relations only stand to benefit from their work. After all, who wouldn’t want more dedicated and engaged employees at work?
Create your employee relations plan
We’re willing to bet that you already have the makings of a solid employee relations plan in place. You already have existing documentation around current policies and company culture; you just need to bring it all together! If you want to invest in employee relations going forward, here’s how you can get started.
Implement supportive policies
Organizations need to have policies and practices that grow alongside them. If you want to help foster healthy and helpful workplace relations, make sure you have the right policies in place. Make it a point to review your policies on an ongoing basis to ensure that everything still makes sense for your company in its current state.
Do some research to see what other workplaces offer regarding policies and perks, and pay close attention to your competitors. Any policies that give your employees more flexibility and autonomy at work are big bonuses. Don’t be shy about asking your employees what policies they’d like to see at work. Send out a quick survey to gauge how people feel about your current policies and if they have ideas for new ones.
Invest in timely and transparent communication
Companies that want to have a solid employee relations plan in place should focus on fostering effective communication. Feeling out of the loop at work is never a fun feeling. When you’re not getting updates about projects and company policies, disengaging from work is almost a guarantee. We’re all about transparent communication; that’s why creating, finding, and sharing information in Guru is so easy. Having a tool like Guru ensures that you can keep your most important information around policies, changes, and other work info in one easy-to-access location. Being able to send information with different levels of urgency is helpful too. You can use announcements to send critical must-see updates to employees or store important information in Cards people can access whenever they need.
Instill this love of transparency with your management team and make sure they’re planning regular meetings with their team and individual employees. One-on-ones and regular team meetings allow everyone to have their voice heard and could surface issues before they become genuine problems.
Give valuable feedback
Your co-worker and friend submitted some work you thought was a bit sloppy and not close to their best. Do you want to mention that during the next team meeting, or do you stay quiet and hope they catch on? Many people choose the latter, and their workplaces suffer from it.
Giving open and honest feedback at work can be a challenge for managers and their employees. Make sure that you take the time to train employees and managers on the right way to give feedback so everyone can hear what they need to hear to do their best work.
We practice radical candor at Guru to ensure everyone knows how to give helpful feedback. It’s a way of communicating that allows you to challenge a view directly while still acting with empathy and care, and learning it could help do away with a lot of needlessly awkward workplace convos.
Start tracking metrics
If you want to build a true employee relations plan for your company, you’ll need some data to work off of. Some people focus on measuring absenteeism and turnover rates, while others focus on metrics related to satisfaction and engagement. There are a variety of metrics you can measure, you just have to pick what you want to focus on.
eNPS is a very reliable engagement metric you can use to measure employee engagement. If you want to go down that route, check out this blog post on how you can use Guru in your eNPS work.
There are other ways you can use Guru to gather helpful employee relations metrics. When you send out company or team announcements, look at Card analytics to see who's opening Cards. If you find that people aren’t interacting with important company news, it could be a sign that engagement and relation problems are brewing.
Employee Relations and Guru
Now that you have an idea of what it takes to create an employee relations plan, it’s time to start building one out. Assist and Answers will be helpful writing and editing partners throughout the process. Assist’s summarization feature is excellent for pairing down long documents and giving you the most important information upfront. Be sure to try it out on some of your lengthier sections! There are plenty of other ways Guru can help you do your best work. Check out our tour to see what Guru can do for you.