As a consultant, I am often asked by my clients, “How can I identify employee relations tension before it becomes a company-wide endemic?” Why am I asked this so often? Because employee relations (ER) are difficult to assess.
From the CEO to line managers, everyone needs to understand the importance of developing positive employee relations. Whether it’s dealing with contractors, senior executives or the entry level workforce, company leaders must cultivate and model values that promote a positive work environment. A company’s culture begins at the top and flows from there. How do you know if your company has employee relations problems?
3 Ways to Check if your Business Faces Employee Relations Problems
- Send an employee attitude survey. This will tap into your workers’ ideas/thoughts and assess whether you may have some underlying issues of which you weren’t unaware. These surveys are a great way to learn what your employees are truly feeling and their attitudes over-all to create a more effective workplace culture for them to thrive in, based on their own input.
- Set up a counseling/coaching atmosphere geared toward positive face- to- face interactions. Your employees may feel more comfortable coming to you during a 1:1 meeting to express their concerns. This also serves a dual purpose; during this time, managers can establish objective goals for the rating period, communicate new organizational policies and career-mapping strategies. These discussions reaffirm the trust and transparency factors for the employees.
- Ensure executive leadership and middle managers are in constant contact with both each other AND their teams. Line-level managers are more likely to hear chatter at the water cooler than C-level leadership, and this is a great way to gain insight into employee morale and overall engagement. If you see a problem arising, make sure you have effective internal conflict resolution strategies in place. From small issues between employees and their managers, to full scale progressive discipline steps, establish a consistent process that is communicated to employees on a regular basis.
Building a culture based on authenticity and communication is key for minimal workforce issues. Positive employee relations are built on trust, openness and effective communications. Employees want to know they are respected and kept abreast of any changes to the company, large and small. Morale will diminish once employees lose trust in their upper management and feel as if management is masking vital information. Be authentic. If there are changes looming ahead, communicate as much as you can to your employee base; have a consistent message of candidness.
Always remember that your employees make your company. By being proactive and always in communication- you can be a step ahead of any internal conflict and mitigate before it erupts. Your customers and clients can tell when there are internal issues within your workforce. It’s critical to promote and maintain positive relationships with every person who enters your establishment—starting with the people you pay.