Employee Relations

Balancing employee relationships is a big responsibility for business leaders and reporting managers. Employee relations impact several workforce metrics. From motivation to team cohesion to key performance indicators, managing and improving relations between management and workers is critical to business success. While many employers understand the need for a good working relationship between managers and their teams, most struggle to make any improvements.

To create a successful employee relations strategy, an employer may find it easier to start with the basics. Namely, understanding what these working relationships entail, and how they can be leveraged for better business and workforce success. This blog discusses what employee relationship management entails, and why it is important for businesses of all sizes and types.

The term is a fairly broad one, so it’s no surprise so many people only have a vague understanding of what it means. Even the most experienced managers and business leaders can often limit themselves to one or two aspects of an employee relations strategy. However, this vague approach/understanding may not prove effective among modern workforces.

Today’s business landscape is dynamic and prone to sudden disruptions. Therefore, both firms and workforces have evolved into more efficient, agile, and lean versions of themselves. Moreover, almost all businesses continue to improve themselves within this context; but to reach that eventual goal, businesses need all stakeholders to work in tandem. This includes a very core stakeholder demographic: the workforce.

Without an effective employee relationship management strategy, managers could find it very hard to meet their workforce and performance goals. As such, management needs to explore avenues and strategies that are conducive to real and meaningful engagement with workers.

Distinguishing Between Workforce Relations and Relationship Management

The term used to describe the relationship workers have with their employer is called worker relations. By contrast, relationship management refers to managing employee relations issues. It also involves improving the quality of the relationship using various approaches and best practices.

As businesses grow, their workforces typically grow in tandem. As new workers with diverse backgrounds and experiences enter the organization, more relationship management may become necessary. Standardizing and applying employee relations best practices to manage workforces is often an efficient and reasonably sure way to improve engagement.

Key Reasons Why Employee Relations Are Important

The advantages of a great relationship between managers and workers benefit the whole business. Employers can improve how they engage with the workforce. For workers, better engagement means stronger loyalty to an employer that values them. This allows for greater success when motivating or retaining employers. It also puts employers in a better position to understand and tackle employee problems in an empathic way. Some of the most important benefits of employee and labor relations can include:

Boost Worker/Manager Engagement

All business leaders understand the need for engagement among managers and teams. However, very few know how to tackle an engagement problem in the workplace. Employee relationship management can help immensely in boosting engagement rates. With a mix of communication, transparency, and empathy, businesses can drive up employee engagement for greater success.

Strengthen Job Satisfaction Levels

Employee relations issues can also manifest themselves as low job satisfaction levels. Low satisfaction levels among the workforce can quickly lead to a drop in morale and productivity. If left unaddressed, low satisfaction levels can drive up employee turnover rates. However, strategically managing employee relations based on roles and responsibilities can not only maintain employee satisfaction but also boost it.

Enhance Worker Productivity

With a poor working relationship between workers and managers, the most significant risk is always a drop in productivity. Of course, conflicts and friction do arise in the workplace, but these should not impact workforce productivity every time they arise. Effective relationship management, including conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and sincere professional support, are great ways to prevent this from happening.

Improve Employee Retention

A high rate of employee turnover or attrition defeats almost every talent acquisition plan. For modern businesses, it’s not enough to simply acquire new talent. Retaining talent is half the challenge. Among the many types of employee relations needing management, workforce managers must always include those that could potentially threaten to increase turnover. Addressing these issues and resolving them could go a long way to help a firm retain its most talented workers.

Create Advocates Among Employees

All firms pitch themselves as the best place to work. Many of them indeed are great workplaces filled with diverse and motivated workers, but while a firm’s value proposition to employees always matters, future candidates will also be interested in what current/former employees have to say. Managing the quality of working relations between management and workers helps in this regard as well. It offers unique opportunities to create advocates among the current workforce. By extension, it helps create a far more positive perception among the candidate pool.

A Few Tips on Employee Relations Best Practices

Understanding why managing the relationship quality between workforces and workforce managers is important, but it is, at best, incomplete information without an understanding of how to actively work on improving this relationship. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, certain general factors do hold true in most cases. To get started, follow these effective employee relations programs examples:

Communicating Transparently and Honestly

Honest and transparent communication allows greater trust to develop between both stakeholders. As in any relationship, professional or otherwise, trust is the bedrock upon which that relationship must be based. The complexity of this can vary, especially in firms that follow a decentralized recruitment model, but when workers and managers know that the information shared between them is honest and free of any ambiguity, they can learn to depend on each other.

Getting Workers to Buy into Business Success

A strict and controlling approach to workforce management is usually counterproductive. However, workers that willingly align with company goals and vision can streamline workforce management considerably. Managers would do well to help workers understand how their work is meaningful and benefits the business. When workers understand how their work contributes to the firm’s goals and vision, they are more likely to buy into these goals and vision.

Allow More Space for Independent Work

Micro-management is a sure way to deteriorate relations between management and workforces. Workers will always appreciate constructive feedback or instructions. An atmosphere of constant micromanagement, however, breeds poor perceptions in the workplace. On the other hand, allowing workers the space to exercise independence and being accountable for their work can have the opposite impact. Workers who are entrusted with this space typically appreciate the trust placed in them and do more in an effort to meet expectations.

Offer Recognition and Appreciation Expressly

Managers are often quick to point out flaws and mistakes in a body of work. This can offer invaluable insights to workers intent on doing things right the next time around. Conversely, it is equally important that managers offer express recognition and appreciation to workers when they perform well. An open display of appreciation not only motivates a single worker but the workforce as a whole. It is human to seek validation for a job well done, and meeting this expectation can help managers improve the quality of their relationship with the overall workforce.

Remaining Impartial and Fair Towards All

Finally, managers must always maintain a fair and impartial relationship with the entire workforce. Having favorites, or even the perception of the same, can be significantly detrimental to workplace culture and employee motivation levels.


Managing employee relations is key to maintaining and retaining a motivated, talented workforce. It can manifest long-term effects that may not be immediately visible. However, a company that has a good relationship with its workforce will always be a more appealing choice than one with a poorer reputation, and since workers have professional networks of their own, managers can be sure perceptions spread quickly.

The right perception can help in-house recruiters and third parties like a specialized Virginia staffing agency to source candidates easily. A poor perception will make it harder. Therefore, businesses cannot afford to ignore issues between workforces and management. Instead, they need a greater focus on resolving and/or managing them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are employee relations?

This refers to the relationship that managers or supervisors have with their teams.

How to manage employee relations?

Make use of relationship management approaches and best practices.

What are employee relations best practices?

Transparency, trust, recognition, and sincerity are only a few of the best practices in use today.

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