What Is Employee Relations? Definition, Concept, and Trends

What Is Employee Relations? Definition, Concept, and Trends

The success of an organization lies in two major aspects – its employees and management. Despite being one of the most important features of a business, the prevalence of major employee relations (ER) issues stop any organization and employees from budding achievement.

An antidote of communication, better management skills, and proper employee engagement in the business proceedings helps overcome the detrimental stature of any company.

What does employee relations mean?

1. Employee relations meaning and definition

Employee relations definition states “any industrial relationship between the organization and its workers or employees, concerning physical, emotional, contractual, and practical efforts by the employer to maintain a positive relationship with its employees.”

What is the role of Employee Relations?

Simply put, employee relations are strategically created a positive atmosphere for the employees with the hope to keep them loyal and more engaged at work. Most organizations employ a dedicated employee relations manager who plays the role of an advisor, mediator, and compensator to employee issues.

Essentially, the role of employee relations manager is to elude better relationships between management by working on certain policies, developing mutual respect, trust, and marinating transparency.

What are examples of Employee Relations?

Understanding employee relations is crucial for the company’s human resource management. Employee relations gone wrong may cost a bad reputation and dismantling a company despite gaining monetary success. Here are a few employee relations examples that may act as a guide to understand the significance;

› Employee relations program examples

Lack of training on basic people management competencies
Lack of building a feedback mechanism to help employees provide to their managers
Not setting an attendance goal, track group attendance, post-completion stats, and reward the best performing group
All-day gossiping
Neglecting communication with management
Appearing alcoholic or drug problem that affects work progress
Lack in accepting constructive criticism

› Employee relations issues example

Watching sexually explicit material on the company intranet
Getting into disputes with co-workers
Issues with personal hygiene
Violating safety rules
Lack of communication with managers
Insufficient problem-solving skils
Late for meetings or unreachable
Lack of discipline and work-desire
Creating a gender-discriminatory ambiance

› Employee relations strategy examples

Involving team members
Workplace bullying affects employee performance
Declining or ignoring employees’ pay raise request. This affects overall work performance and demotivates employees
Poor handling of issues like cultural differences, unfair treatment, and mishandling and not procuring to individual personalities and needs
Substandard policies and partiality towards an individual employee or a group

Do you know, the HR manager has to spend 60-70% of their time in solving penetrating issues like sexual harassment, annual leave disputes, abusive behavior, and bullying? These workplace conflicts impact negatively your organization.

What do employee relations professionals do?

Every organization is aware of the example of employee relations issues. Additionally, each employee wants to feel great, secured, and homely in the workplace. Overall productivity, performance, and a positive work environment are the result of smart work strategy. HR management has to work hard to build strategies for better work ambiance. Employee relations scenarios are critical, but here are a few methods that will help the professionals in evaluating their employee relations strategy.

How to improve employee relations?

› Promote communication

Communication breaks all barriers. Although this is known to all, yet some organizations tend to overlook this key factor. Establishing better communication is the foundation of employee relations. The management has to find out ways to interact with its team members, work labors, and union leaders. Convey important notices, crucial updates about the company’s development, share the organization’s vision and develop bonding with the employees. The relationship must be in such a way that no one is afraid to speak or ask any questions with the management.

› Recognize, appreciate, reward

Valuing employees and appreciating them solves 80% of employee relations issues. Show your employees that you care and give them opportunities. A smart HR professional knows that celebrating co-workers and appreciating them is the best solution for handling employee relations issues. Having a small weekly team-celebration, regular encouragement, public recognition are the keys to building strong employee bonding. Employees feel good when their achievements are discussed, clapped on, and talked about in the team meetings.

› Treat everyone equally. Stop being partial

Partiality is one of the major employee relations examples. If you want to build strong bonding with your employees then treat everyone equally and don’t play favorites. Staffs give their best when they hear equally appreciating comments. Creating a partiality-free work environment truly enables the employees to participate and thrive to work hard in giving out their best performance.

› Train, invest, offer career development

Office staffs, industry workers, and your team members are the elementary part of your business. Investing in them, for example holding learning and training programs, employee skill upgradation program, peer monitoring, employee wellness programs, and many more. Depending on the size and type of business, the options here are endless. You can hold training sessions or use educational videos - you can even create your own educative material by using a video merger and other tools of a video editor. what matters is treating your staff well and helps them develop themselves. Hiring a peer coach or establishing an L&D department for the team enables a 360-degree performance revolution among them.

› Trust and share the company’s vision

Trust your people! What can a company do without its employees? Expectation, reliance, and trust are three strong pillars of a successful business. When you convey your expectations and your vision with your staff, trust them. Try managing your team through weekly discussion meetings, graphing out work processes, and help them head towards goals. When your employees understand what is expected of them, and that they can approach you whenever needed, then let them be.

› Make them feel valued

It doesn’t take much to say a simple “thank you” or compliment someone. When you focus on your employees’ achievement rather than criticizing their flaws, it reflects your concern towards them. Taking corrective actions and focusing their strengths helps in making them feel valued. This also helps the staff in working with a renewed sense of responsibility towards the company.

What is the employee relations process?

The employee relation process is the steps followed by the management after mutually agreeing upon the employee union. Employee relations process steps help in regulating how management handles the employment process, issues, and industrial relations with its staff.

The main employee relations process flowchart involves the following three steps;

› Conciliation

Dispute resolution is of course the main objective of any HR management. The aim is to collectively bargain with the employees and preferably reach a satisfactory agreement by both parties. Conciliation is one of the most important parts of the employee relations process that helps in reconciliation between both the parties-employer and employee. The management either appoints a third party as Conciliators or chooses to solve the issues by themselves. This process aids in building a bridge through mutual compromise.

› Arbitration

Arbitration is defined as the last resort for reaching a settlement when disputes cannot be solved in any other way. This process is carried out by appointing an arbitrator who legally solves issues prevailing between employer and the employees by bringing them to consent on a final verdict.

› Mediation

Mediation is making recommendations to the employer and the staff union. Here, the employer is free to agree upon any suggestion or reject the same. Mediation means the employer retains full control of the situation and may choose to opt for an informal employee relations process over legal suggestions.

Apart from the above stated formal employee relations process, the HR manager may choose certain informal processes as well. The role of employee’s relation manager is significant. The issues prevailing in the company gives an insight into negative behaviours procuring in the workplace. The management has to closely monitor and document the issues to provide effective measures in sorting them out.

Here are the fundamental employee relation process steps that help to measure the effectiveness of the solutions;

› Causes of issues

Finding the cause of each issue is the initial goal of a manager. The employer has to find out the reasons behind issues, whether the problem was addressed before? This helps in finding out behavioral changes among employees, a lack of leadership action, and measure the transparency of communication. Resurfacing the cause may help in hitting the main issue and establishing correct employment process solutions.

› Process

Thorough notes, documentation, and process need to be charted to solve employee relations issues. The process involves trying out various formal measures to solve issues- conciliation, arbitration, and mediation. Reviewing an issue through mutual agreement may be one of the best measures to consider.

› Legal resource

When the process lacks mutual agreement, legal resources may be the final step to solve employee issues. The employee and the employer may choose to take legal advice if they feel that the complaints are not handled properly. Employees who provide friendly work ambiance and let the employees feel heard and valued may typically solve problems without getting involved legally.

› Outcome

When the issues and complaints are closed, it is understood that employee relations have developed positively. When the staff members are satisfied with the process, the effective outcome depicts re-joining to work. However, if the employees are unsatisfied and dispute prevails, they may choose to resign. Whatever the cause may be, the employer must try to keep its subordinates content and handle them smartly.

Why are employee relations important?

Building a strong relationship between employer and employees is the ultimate key to a successful business. The importance of the employer-employee relationship is discussed in chapters of Management studies as well. This association is an art which monitors and manages the relation between team members and develops a healthy work environment. The prime motive of the leaders is to eliminate conflicts and encourage work-bonding among the staff.

Here are the benefits of employee relations;

› Development and Growth

A harmonious association between the management and staff members leads to productivity and work efficiency. Consistent motivation and better communications eliminate the barrier between the two parties. When employees are positive, they will put their best efforts to make projects successful. The importance of employee relations also helps in using the resources to its maximum.

› Reduces conflicts

Conflicts, labour clashes, management encounters are some of the major employee relations issues prevailing in companies. When the workplace is serene, friendly, and efficient, the conflicts are reduced. Fewer rattles result in concentration on work and boost productivity. Investigation, Coincilation, Mediating are some of the basic steps that help in conflict reduction and foster employer-employee relations.

› Increase in revenue

A happy and healthy association will have a positive impact on the growth of revenue. When workers are engaged and motivated, they result in better customer satisfaction, better products, and services; hence increase sales and profits.

› Employee loyalty

Employee loyalty plays a vital role in business development. Termed as “a most valuable asset,” employees cannot be just let to go for petty issues and misunderstanding. Providing a healthy workplace and helps in building strong bonding between the owner and his workers. Investing in developing employee relationship management and gaining employee loyalty in return is the biggest achievement for the business.

› Easy delegation

When your employees do not listen to you and there is a lack of understanding, it becomes difficult to delegate tasks and expect better returns from them. Building a healthy workplace relation squeezes distance between the boss and his staff. It becomes easier to acknowledge and understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and expectations. However, the employer must consider few points while delegating tasks and avoiding misinterpretations. Few points are;

Take responsibilities for the faults of your employee
Delegate task according to their ability
Do not take away credits for the task accomplished by others
Assign challenging and motivational tasks

What are the types of employee relations?

As a business owner, the employer holds responsibility for advising, educating, and supporting employees and develops healthy, interactive relations with them. It not only encourages productivity but also enhances morale. The common types of employee relations issues revolving in and around the company are as follows;

› Corrective action

When the employee is served with verbal warning or documentation, this is known as corrective action. Irrespective of the person, the warning is issued against the misconduct of citing companies' policies and rules.

› Supportive action

Another enhanced type of employee relations is taking supporting action towards employees facing personal issues outside the workplace. This type of relation is developed through regular communication and having an open-door policy. Encouraging workers to discuss their problems which directly affect their work quality may help in building better employee relations. Adjusting work timings, scheduling tasks, making referrals for useful resources helps in developing supportive employee relations.

› Rule and policy interpretation

When you hire new staff, it is important to make them aware of the company’s policies and build a healthy relationship. The association in its initial stage immunes trust and eliminates further chances of discrepancies. Encourage employees to follow rules, and stop them from violating the policies. Interpreting specific company guidelines procures is causing further workplace discrimination and advancing employee relations scenario.

How to enhance employee relations?

Most employers assume that the role of an employee relation manager is to sort co-workers conflict and interpret company policies to the staff. However, they must not forget that every employer must learn how to improve human relations in the workplace by using various employee relations strategy.

› Be a mentor, a coach, and a guide

To enhance employee relations, an employer has to upgrade himself to present himself as a role model for his team. Helping others to develop their skills is an unforgotten gift to your employees.

› Inspire and motivate

To develop employee relations best practices a boss has to develop his skills and become a humble motivator for his sub-ordinates. The best leader is not the one who is perpetually pushing and criticizing, but he rolls up his sleeves and pitches in with the team. Employer-employee relations can build only when the leader is inspiring and knows how to bring out the best.

› Emotionally connect and be positive

When the employer is angry, annoyed, and frustrated, he spreads negativity within the company. The employees are always scared of approaching the employer and hence, spoiling the relationship. Emotions are one of the vital parts of the employee relations strategy. The employer has to connect emotionally with his staff, spread positivity and must have an optimistic approach.

› Ask for employee feedback

This might come as a surprise with a question “who asks for employee feedback?” Well, it is one of the most forbidden topics in books on how to improve human relations in the workplace. If you want to enhance good team relations, you must give equal importance to your employees as to your customers. Ask your employees about the services and goods they produce, talk about company policies, and adopt changes accordingly. Your employees are an integral part of the company and like any other family member, you just can’t ignore them.

What does ER mean in HR?

ER or employee relations in Human resources are a function commonly dealing with improving employee morale and solving workplace issues. This revolves around generating satisfactory output and gaining productivity through building a healthy work ambiance. Now the question arises “How can HR improve employee relations?”

A Human resource manager must be well-versed with the company’s policies and has the right to take disciplinary actions. The manager cannot compromise on work productivity and disciplines, however, must try all possible practices to build a healthy employee relation. A fully-staffed Human resource management department has an employee relation manager who knows how HR can improve employee relations.

Employee relation is important because HR strategy and organizational success largely depend on the company’s workforce and its productivity.

What is the difference between HR and ER?

Although Human resource and employee relations are both related to employee betterment and company success, these departments are segregated in terms of performance and solving employee issues. Here are a few points to understand employee relations vs human resources;

The HR department primarily works on two main functions- preventing and solving employee’s issues and assisting in creating work policies. However, Employee relations in Human Resource are a department that focuses only on developing staff issues.

An HR hires employees and makes them aware of company policies, but an Employee relation manager puts effort into interpreting the policies and guiding the staff in following the rules and regulations.

Workplace issues are an everyday employee relations scenario. The problems range from complaining about employee discriminatory actions to inappropriate working conditions. ER in HR is capable of handling all the issues by it.

A company where employees are represented by worker unions, the labour relations specialist is responsible for handling management
issues, bargaining on the agreement, mediating, and arbitration.

Measuring labour satisfaction is another ER specialist job. The human resource manager overlooks workers' emotional satisfaction and issues after appointing an ER officer. Analyzing survey and administrating personal issues is a job run by ER specialists.

Performance management is largely checked and monitored by the Human resource department. However, keeping an individual monitor is processed by an ER specialist who is well-versed of each employee's condition.

Monitoring performance issues, taking actions, ensuring the supervisors, and educating employees the overall performance scheme is carried out by the ER manager.

As the year 2021 is about to end, there has come a huge revolution within the Human resource management and employee relations trends. According to many Fortune companies’ executives, the employee relations trends 2022 will be about embracing new HR technology, strengthening workforce capabilities, improving candidate experiences, and ensuring data security.

Emerging trends in employee relations management

› Employee assistance programs

With the evolution in the work atmosphere, companies are also working on developing employee assistance programs. Employee development is one of the most important employee relations trends in 2022. Organizations are now acting on mentoring employees, providing adequate training, and assisting workers. They teach labourers in utilizing resources, smart usage of valuable tools, and avoid legal problems.

› Introduction to artificial intelligence in recruitment

The year 2022 is all about AI-driven solutions. There is immense provision for innovation in industries like Finance, marketing, banking, transportation, and others. Time-saving Chatbots, AI-powered recruitment platform, faster candidate screening will empower human resource management in utilizing the time in solving candidate issues. AI also ensures quality hiring which will further improve productivity by appointing a talented workforce.

› Automated feedback tools to improve relations

One of the emerging trends in employee relations management is using employment engage tools to carry out the survey, employee opinions, and feedbacks. Employees play a pivotal role in the organization’s development. Providing them an open tool to convey opinions and concerns motivates them in staying connected with the company. Additionally, these feedback tools help management understand employee’s vision, and take corrective plans accordingly.

› Data analytics to transform Employee relations

Using data-driven analytics will play a powerful role in upcoming years. The trend will help HR professionals in retaining top talents for the company. Predominantly, Data analytics will help management in carrying out the following;

Reducing employee turnover by hiring the most talented people
Boosting employee performance
Motivating and diverting employees to stay positive and process improvement
Increasing talent development and workforce planning


Enforcing smart systems and analyzing proper talent is one of the top priorities of every company. Strong and efficient employee relations lead to better performance and workforce productivity. Every individual staff looks forward to working in a comfortable place with a healthy atmosphere. The owner has to work has in developing a work culture that promotes positivity, discipline, and coordination among people working in the organization. When your staffs are happy, they look forward to contributing towards the vision, mission, and goals of their establishment.

Having effective employee relations is a difficult job. However, following emerging trends, proper planning, promoting safety, assisting employees, training, and upgrading work techniques are few ways to building healthy employee relations.

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