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The Importance of Continuing Good Employee Relations Practices

In consideration of the COVID-19 workplace changes that are taking place all over the world, Is now a good time to “press the reset button” and/or consider how your organization will productively adapt to the “new normal” that is taking place? Below are a few helpful Employee Relations practices that I believe, by themselves, can make a huge difference to the bottom line of any organizations of any size and change a culture overnight.

I learned early in my career, that Employee Relations is not only a specialized function of Human Resources, but also, runs across all other areas: Recruitment, Training, Compensation, Benefits, Performance Management, Employment Activity (hiring, promotions, terminations) and Diversity.

  • Recruitment - One of the most common issues mentioned by employees when asked how they felt about their experience with a company, is New Hire Orientation or lack thereof one, along with the type of communication that took place. They complain that they were never told what to expect or what was expected of them. What is your company culture? What are your goals? What are your expectations of the employee? What should the employee expect of the company? Having this information in your company handbook will save you time in communicating it to your employees as your company grows and changes. First of all, a new employee should never start without acknowledgment of the Employee Handbook. It is a priority. It is a form of support to all in terms of fair communication and compliance. Even if you have one employee, plans for growth should start with a company handbook. Handbooks are dynamic and should change with your company. Any change management that takes place should match your policies and should be guidelines for how you do business. Hold someone accountable for ensuring that it matches. If you have ever been in a labor union meeting, you will see that all are referring to the current contract/policies during the discussions.They note the changes right then and there. Documentation of Employee Relations practices should be the same as Labor Relations practices in this case.

  • Training- Growth is a very important part of employee satisfaction within a company. Employee development and training should be just as important as revenue. In fact it will more than likely increase revenue if given high priority.

  • Performance Management - A 360 analysis in regards to performance management for all employees connects all to the bottom line. Do your employees know what part they play in the success of the Company and how to make a difference to all stakeholders? How is this information communicated?

  • Compensation- Do your compensation practices reflect your communicated values or do they say “us and them”? In other words, do they divide the team? Ask your HR professional for their opinion. S/he should easily be able to show you a depiction via a simple excel spreadsheet.

  • Benefits- When you consider your Benefits, do you consider that your employees do not all have the same priorities and needs when it comes to quality of life and/or healthcare? This is a great way to show your employees that you see them and their families.

  • Employment- The company’s employment activity (hiring, promotions, terminations) should reflect the policies stated in the employee handbook and updated according to change management that takes place. Take the time to confront any issues on a periodic basis by communicating the importance of a healthy workplace culture to all.

  • Diversity- Don’t forget about diversity. Diverse companies are known to outperform others by over 30%! Great minds do not always think alike. Who are your customers, does your workplace reflect them or your plans for growth?

  • Human Resources - Your HR person is your employee too. Quite often they are a department of one with no one cheering for them the way other department heads do for their team(s). Human Resources should be included in your strategic meetings and considered an important part of obtaining your goals. They can not be that partner expected to enforce the compliance of your Employee Relations policies from another room, while plans are being made with only a select level of employees. Make sure that they are seen as valued and not just an obligatory departmental box that is checked off.

Don’t just talk-the-talk. Walk-the-walk. Regardless of what the employee brings to the company table, their feedback should matter. However, do not ask for their opinions, if you don’t plan on answering their concerns. There is nothing worse than having your employees trust you with their opinions only to have this otherwise privately held information revealed and used against them in a retaliatory way. A toxic executive or team can ruin an entire organization over time and cost you valuable employees at all levels.

With news traveling as fast as it does these days, the integrity of your company should be clear and easy to communicate. Our values are changing every day. Due to the devastation of COVID-19, some of the people that we thought we would have many years to enjoy are now gone. Our environments have changed forever and so have our values. Valuing your Employee Relations will be the key to success.

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