The Three Things You Need to Know About Employee Relations

by Jenna Reed on December 8, 2014

in Employee Engagement,Leadership,Strengths

White Tiger - Caldwell Zoo - Tyler TX

Employee relations has a reputation for being a catch all for anything HR related. I agree there is a lot that is included under the umbrella of employee relations, but I also believe it’s really only about three VERY IMPORTANT things: relationships, meaningful work and strengths.

Every day I work with companies on an “employee relations” issue. Usually it’s a legal issue of some sort, or at least it is perceived as a legal issue. So while our conversations may start out assessing the legal risks in firefighting mode, we usually end our conversations talking in some manner about a supervisor who isn’t a good leader and doesn’t connect with employees, an employee who doesn’t understand why their job matters, an employee who isn’t challenged or “they just have no motivation or work ethic.”

Now, obviously there are many more categories of conversations, but I always seem to manage to get to some very basic, but apparently elusive things. Maybe elusive isn’t the right word, but it kind of feels like a secret that no one has told their supervisors. So I’m telling you. Focus on relationships, meaningful work, and strengths and the rest just got a lot easier.

That doesn’t sound right coming from an attorney, does it? Sounds too fluffy? Well, it’s the truth. Here is what I know to be true – Companies that have leaders that are skilled in building and maintaining genuine relationships with employees, help to provide them with meaningful work, help them understand the impact of their work, and allow them to perform in a manner tailored to their individual strengths are more productive, profitable and efficient.

Focusing on those three things (relationships, meaningful work and strengths) also reduces legal risk in a significant way. When focus shifts to these things the employee work experience dramatically improves. Employees stop nit picking as much. They stop complaining about pay (unless you’re below the market and that’s a conversation for another day). They stop dissecting and criticizing every decision in an unproductive way. They start asking more thoughtful questions. They start thinking beyond their job description. They start getting energized by their work. They look forward to challenge. They’re more resilient during change. Oh, and they’re also much less likely to sue you.

So yes, I believe employee relations (and therefore a lot of other HR related stuff) is really about three things. Master those and your job just got a lot easier and less stressful.

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