What is Employee Relations?

Employee Relations is a division of a company’s Human Resources department that provides direction and oversight for employee related matters like time-off, medical leave, formal and informal employee complaints, investigation of harassment and discrimination claims, termination of employees, and unemployment compensation claims. Employee relations may also coordinate workplace educational opportunities.

What Employee Relations Does

Employee relations are the relationships among a company’s employees and between the employees and the company itself. Every individual has multiple relationships with their colleagues at work – relationships with their peers, managers, and other employees. The relationship with each is good, mediocre, or bad.

The Employee Relations department manages these relationships. Employee Relations manages many responsibilities related to employees including policy development and interpretation, collective bargaining agreement application, public relations, liaison between different employees, managing employee program, and training employees. Some other responsibilities Employee Relations takes on:

  • It is the first point of contact for upper and lower level employees with questions or who need assistance regarding workplace conflicts, internal policy interpretations, and general consultations related to work. Employee Relations focuses on customer-service and expanding workplace communication.
  • Employee Relations is a neutral department that does not side with certain employees but instead tries to reach solutions that work for all through collaboration.
  • The department represents the interests of the company as a whole and makes decisions based on what is right for the entire organization.
  • Employee Relations facilitates communications between management and lower level employees concerning workplace decisions, grievances, conflicts, problem resolutions, unions, and issues of collective bargaining.
  • The department provides a place for employees to confidentially talk about their questions and concerns without fear of negative consequences. With very few exceptions, like when a danger is posed by the information provided or a law is being broken, conversations with Employee Relations staff are kept confidential.
  • Employee Relations manages workplace educational opportunities to help enhance positive workplace interaction among employees, job satisfaction, and employee retention.

Why Employee Relations Are Important

People spend most of their time at work with their co-workers, superiors, and reports. Neither employees nor employers can afford workplace disputes. Disputes add to unhealthy tensions and decrease an employee's productivity. In contrast, employees that have rapport with one another and are comfortable in their working environment tend to work harder for the employer. Employee Relations helps maintain a friendly and productive workforce necessary for business success. It serves as a neutral mediator of disputes.

Further, no individual, no matter how hard working, can do their job without the help of others. A successful business requires employees that are dedicated to their work and not distracted by workplace disputes or other workplace concerns. For these reasons, it is essential that employees share a polite relationship with each other, understand each other’s needs and expectations and work together to accomplish the goals and targets of the organization.

Finally, to reach ideal solutions, the advice and suggestions of all to reach to a solution which would benefit the individual as well as the organization. Employees must be comfortable at work to be willing to share their valuable insights and ideas.

Employee Relations Improves Business Success

Employee Relations helps create and maintain happy, productive employees that get along with one another. It also provides a resource for employees to go to before taking action, like quitting or not putting effort into work, which harms the employer.

To do their best work, employees also need to have someone they can go to for advice about workplace issues especially when they may not be comfortable reporting issues to their manager or discussing them with coworkers. The Employee Relations department provides employees with this support.

Supporting Employee Relations

All employees, not just the Employee Relations department play a role in helping prevent and resolve workplace disputes. Team leaders and managers should discourage conflicts on their teams and encourage healthy, productive relationships among team members. Lower level employees should enter discussions with a positive frame of mind, open to compromise. They should also avoid approaching co-workers as competitors or enemies. All employees should be encouraged to avoid making conflict with others at work over minor unimportant issues. They should also be reminded that personal issues should remain outside of the workplace.

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