Human resource professionals define employee relations as the relationship between an employee and the organization for which he or she works. This includes contractual obligations as well as emotional and practical aspects of the relationship. When a new employee is hired, he or she is contracted to work for a set wage (hourly or salaried) and to produce a certain part of product or render a service. Aside from an employee’s salary, there may be other benefits that an employee is entitled to as well.
Negotiations around these contractual obligations are handled by employee relations professionals. In addition, employee relations professionals also handle issues that may arise once an employee has been hired. They serve as a middle ground between the organization’s interests and the employee’s interests. Employee relations professionals work through issues such as: employee benefits, employee engagement, and employee morale.
Benefits are usually a type of non-wage based compensation offered to employees. Benefits usually have a monetary value even though they do not represent an increase in take-home pay. A common example of an employee benefit is health insurance. Employee relations professionals are responsible for determining what benefits employees value, policies about which employees can receive the benefits (usually pay grade related), and if an employee is being denied benefits unjustly.
The extent to which an employee feels committed to an organization is determined by a few factors like a sense of belonging, trust in leadership, and opportunities for reward and growth. Employee engagement is also related to employee empowerment. That is that an employee is able to have some autonomy over their own work.
A vital part of employee relations is making sure that all the power is not given to one individual or a group of individuals. When employees are given leeway to manage their own work, they feel trusted and reciprocate the feelings. Additionally, being responsible for a task from start to finish creates a sense of accountability and elevates an employee’s sense of belonging. Employees that work in an environment that cultivates trust and belonging are typically more engaged in their work.
A loss of employee morale can be experienced by individuals or by a group of employees within an organization. Much of the impact on employee morale lies in the hands of the supervisors. Supervisors who make an effort to make sure that employees are satisfied in their role, have a positive outlook about the organization, and have feelings of well-being at work will have employees with higher morale. In some cases, low morale is temporary, but low morale can be so persistent that it causes employee turnover.
Training and Development
Employee relations professionals also focus on analyzing performance criteria and root causes of performance deficiencies. Employee disengagement and low morale could be two reasons why an employee is not performing up to their potential.
Training and development opportunities could turn a disengaged employee into one who becomes innovative and creative by simply expanding his or her skillset. An employee with low morale that is offered an opportunity to learn a new role may once again find his or her sense of purpose within the organization. Offering professional development to employees is an added benefit, not only to the employee but also to the organization.
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