Relationships are an integral part of society. Put simply: Getting along is important! Whether it’s with each other, leadership, or your employer brand, ensuring positive relations affects everything from productivity and absenteeism to retention and recruiting.
Hiring the right people is an important step toward positive employee relations, but it’s only the first step. Whether you have designed and implemented a formal employee relations strategy or not, your employees are continuously building, nurturing, and sometimes tearing down relationships. It’s up to you as an HR specialist to identify weaknesses and strengths to keep things positive.
Identifying weaknesses in your employee relations can have a dramatic impact.
Whether positive or negative, employee relations has an impact on many of the core areas within your business. Follow these strategies to identify potential employee relations weaknesses in your organization:
Conduct anonymous surveys.
This is the simplest method of collecting input from employees. There is simply feedback people are more willing to give when they aren’t looking you in the eye. It can be difficult to give constructive or even negative feedback to anyone. This is especially true when the feedback is being delivered to the organization that signs your paycheck!
With surveys; however, it’s important to keep questions as open-ended as possible (while also being specific in asking, so that responds don't turn into an open-ended gripe session — you want value from this survey). You can hire a market research firm to conduct these for you, use an inexpensive tool like Survey Monkey, or you can even use Google Forms, a free tool, to create your survey and compile the data. The important part is to gather the data from your employees, and to ask the right questions.
Regularly review online resources.
Employees (and candidates) are formally reviewing or at least casually discussing their experiences with your company on sites like Glassdoor, Facebook, and LinkedIn. A member of your HR team should be reviewing these sites regularly to quickly identify any critical feedback (both negative and positive) and address it as necessary.
Resist asking your employees to post positive reviews on sites like Glassdoor. Major media outlets are calling out the “gaming” of Glassdoor reviews by employers, and the request can ring hollow with your employees. Think about it this way: What does it say to your employees that, rather than asking them how you can improve their experience, you instead ask them to boost your company’s rating and only share positive feedback?
Build a culture of consistent communication between managers and employees.
From top to bottom, every member of your leadership team is an important component of your employee relations strategy. Keep C-suite executives in the loop by regularly reviewing employee feedback delivered through the methods mentioned above, or through casual conversation. Ensure that your organization has a clear structure in place for collecting feedback on employee relations and passing it up the chain so that every member of your leadership team has a finger on the pulse of your organization.
HR and middle management shouldn’t hide employee relations issues from executives. Instead, talk about them openly and share stories. Keep everyone in the loop and on the same page so that addressing these issues is more than an isolated solution, but a commitment toward a supportive environment for all employees. When issues are identified and validated, look at them as an opportunity to grow and do better. It’s always better to hear about potential employee relations issues before your best employees leave en masse!
Keep anonymous feedback continuously open throughout the year.
Surveys are a great prompt and way to request feedback, but it’s important that employees feel they have several opportunities to share feedback throughout the year. Otherwise, important cues and insight could be lost as employees move on to the next thing throughout the year (letting the one they forgot about fester, potentially opening your organization up to liability down the road).