Manager and employee relations is an important aspect of day-to-day business operations. Unfortunately, many managers don't realize their workers are uninspired, dissatisfied or even experiencing burnout. Oftentimes, these negative outcomes are results of a toxic workplace culture.
Poor relationships in the workplace can directly impact employee performance and retention. If you're not focusing on employee relations, you could face costly issues. Here's what you should know about improving manager and employer relations.
What is relationship management in the workplace, and why is it important?
Employee relationship management describes an organization's ongoing effort to engage its employees. This strategy helps maintain open communication in the workplace. Positive employer-employee relationships in the office encourage productivity and collaboration among teams. When there's a mutual level of respect between a manager and a worker, there's more willingness on both ends to offer support and perform well.
Good leadership is essential to a close, efficient team. Relationship management both motivates and rewards employees, making them feel appreciated for the work they do. Besides improving employee retention, it also empowers workers to take risks, set professional goals and find purpose in their work. How you and your managers treat your employees directly impacts their engagement levels and satisfaction at your business.
What are some examples of employee relations?
Employee relations strategies help eliminate toxicity in the workplace and keep workers at all levels content and secure. For instance, if an employee bullies their teammate, it's the employer's responsibility to take action against the perpetrator. If there's a concern about time off or paid leave, management should handle these concerns with care. Essentially, any activity or initiative put in place to engage and support employees will make a difference in workers' performance as well as your overall workplace culture.
There are many ways to improve your business's employee relations. Here are a few examples of employee relations strategies:
- Conflict management, which helps resolve any issues in the workplace, whether it’s between two co-workers or between an employee and management
- Workplace safety, which ensures the office and work environment is both physically and emotionally safe for its employees
- Career development, which help workers reach their own professional goals in relation to the business
- Team building, which is any activity that brings workers together
- Employee appreciation, which involves an employer or manager positively acknowledging and rewarding good work
Whether you use one or all of these strategies, taking simple steps to support your workers will likely have a lasting impact.
1. Promote workplace cooperation.
All employees should understand that work performance is not about competition. It's about coming together to serve a common purpose – e.g., pleasing your clients or customers. It is not a race. Managers may delegate specific responsibilities to certain employees, but each responsibility is linked to the next in a ceaseless effort to provide top-quality products or services.
Good communication is a must in the workforce. Providing opportunities for your managers to interact more with other employees will help build stronger cooperation and understanding among them, while allowing managers to help employees improve their individual skills.
Many activities can build good communication skills among workers, including the following:
- Training programs
- Office luncheons
The employees will see these activities as a chance to take a break from the daily grind and help each other turn their weaknesses and insecurities into strengths for success.
2. Inspire your employees.
Find ways to bring your teams together. Although individual employees have their own unique responsibilities, team members need to recognize they're in this together. Inform each department of their monthly goals and offer incentives and rewards for reaching them. These are some common ways to do that:
- Casual or dress-down day
- Corporate-branded swag (T-shirts, ball caps, accessories, etc.)
- Fitness perks (e.g., gym memberships)
- Gift cards
- Free lunches
Tackling daily tasks is more exciting when there are physical benefits in addition to a regular paycheck. Employees are likely to accomplish much more and put their hearts into their work when they have control over the extras they receive.
3. Take advantage of feedback.
Feedback is highly beneficial to the inner workings of a company. Lack of acknowledgment tends to make an employee feel like less of an asset to the company, which can lead to a decrease in their work performance. How can this issue be resolved?
Instead of making decisions independently of your employees, seek their input. Speak with your employees about departmental strengths and weaknesses to gauge how your managers are executing their own responsibilities. This makes your employees feel more appreciated and should ultimately improve productivity.
Another advantage of speaking with your employees is the chance to gain a fresh mindset on a particular topic. When you are facing issues within the business, don't be too proud to seek assistance from your staff.
Employees' input not only helps you visualize your situations rationally from alternate perspectives, it also provides you with more viable options for what path to take. As a result of your consideration and actions, your employees will also feel more invested in the company.
4. Resolve conflict rationally.
Conflict in the workplace is inevitable, but its resolution should still be a top priority. Issues among employees can easily disrupt the workings of your company, so it is crucial to address them in a rational and timely manner.
When addressing conflict, don't be quick to judge. Jumping to conclusions before hearing multiple sides of the story can be detrimental to the health of your business, should the wrong person be reprimanded. Approach each situation with an open mind.
Miscommunication often plays a large role in problems that arise in the workplace. Be sure to ask what was said by each party and whether any effort was made to clear up potential misunderstandings before you were informed of the situation. Companies lose employees all too often over simple matters of miscommunication.
Team-building activities are great opportunities for managers and other employees to strengthen their bonds on a business level, lowering the risk of conflict over a misunderstanding.
You don't want your employees to dread coming to work every day. Use these suggestions to improve relations between your managers and employees and make your workplace a friendlier, more productive environment for everyone.
Amy Blackburn contributed to the writing in this article.