Introduction to employee relations

To start with, what is it that constitutes employee relations?

Well, for starters, employee relations refer to the relationship between the employer and employee within an organization and also that which exists between the employees themselves. It is the responsibility of the organization to engender harmonious employee relations, and in order for this to happen, there has to be a planned, focused, and strategic set of initiatives. The larger the size of the organization, the more will people need to be involved in the employee engagement initiatives in order to develop a conducive, fostering environment for work and personal relations. Most often, it is the Human Resources department that is tasked with managing employee relations in any organization. In a small or family run business, that might mean the task falls on the shoulders of one person, as is also often the case at the beginning stages of a startup. As organizations grow and develop, so too must their employee engagement initiatives and practices, to ensure they encompass all team members, across ages and stages of the organization’s growth. Keeping in mind the age group of employees is an integral aspect, given that employees’ thinking and views, as well as needs and expectations will change depending on which stage of their career and lives they are at. For example, a retirement plan and 401K option is likely less important to an employee starting out in their career, but will become increasingly important with middle aged employees. A young person at the beginning of their career might be more interested in policies surrounding vacation days and healthcare benefits, as they age out of being on their parents’ insurance policies.

A good employee relations plan will have policies in place with regard to workplace culture, the office environment, human resource and payroll policies (vacation and sick days, work from home, compensation and benefits, etc.), the company’s values, mission, ethos, how the employers will deal with conflict within the organization, including but not limited to friction and disagreements between employees, and also of course, the addressing of grievances that employees bring forth, against the organization or management. How the organization addresses issues that employees face, internal, as well as external facing (for example, with a client or vendor) are also aspects related to employee relations. Employees want to feel supported by their employers, alongside being valued for their contributions to the team effort and in hitting organizational goal posts.

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