3 Vital Elements of Good Employee Relations
How can employers nurture a safe, supportive and satisfying work environment for their employees?
Have you been part of an organisation where you felt valued, respected and listened to as an individual? It is likely that you would reciprocate with loyalty and greater engagement at work, striving to make an impact through the job role assigned to you.
Progressive employers recognise that cultivating good employee relations requires the deeper work of nurturing a workplace environment where employees feel genuinely engaged and where their voices are heard.
Prioritising employee relations can provide a host of benefits for employers. According to a Gallup study, highly engaged workforces have significantly lower absenteeism, increased productivity and deliver greater profitability than their less-engaged counterparts.
Creating a conducive environment for positive employee relations requires establishing structured processes, communication channels and even initiatives that foster better employee wellness and work-life harmony. From the many potential areas that may be addressed to foster good employee relations, these are three key aspects that employers should not ignore:
Implementing a Structured Grievance Handling Process
Navigating employee complaints and dissatisfaction are a necessary part of managing a workforce. A workplace grievance may occur when an employee feels unfairly treated for various reasons. While these occurrences may be challenging to address, it is how an employer responds that leaves a lasting impact. Addressing and resolving each issue raised is a valuable opportunity to build trust with employees.
Rather than dealing with individual complaints as they occur in an adhoc manner, employers should establish a proper grievance management process which facilitates fair, transparent and efficient resolutions and provides a safe communication channel that assures employees they will not face negative repercussions as a result of their complaints.
Employers should remember that the goal is to assure employees that they work at an open, safe and fair organisation where their concerns are taken seriously. Regardless of the validity of the grievance, employers should demonstrate prompt and thorough follow-up in grievance handling.
With sound grievance handling procedures in place, employees are likely to have greater confidence in the Management. The structured and transparent communication process also provides employers with access to open and honest employee opinions which can be assessed and used to plug gaps in the organisation’s policies or work environment.
Encouraging an Inclusive Culture of Diverse Views
Diversity in the workplace is another key factor in an organisation’s success. When the workforce consists of employees with different backgrounds, cultures and experiences, the overall level of creativity, innovation and problem-solving is enhanced. Rather than having a single homogenous approach to a task or challenge, the organisation can tap on a rich variety of ideas and experiences to address the issue at hand.
An inclusive workplace does need to be carefully cultivated – employers need to consider how they can tap on different talent pools to ensure a varied mix of employees in their workforce. Mature workers are one such group. Older workers present unique and valuable capabilities that contribute to company growth. Thus, programmes and policies that enable re-employment and flexible work arrangements should be considered to help encourage the inclusion and integration of mature workers in the organisation.
Employers may also consider effective ways to tap on the wealth of expertise and industry knowledge these employees offer. Creating mentorship and teaching opportunities where mature workers can provide consultative advice and serve as subject matter experts can help to build up the overall capability of the workforce, as well as enable these employees to be meaningfully employed and remain longer with the organisation.
Effectively Listening to Employees
Listening to employees and being receptive to feedback can be a boon for organisations. When employees know that their views are valued and acted upon, they are likely to feel more connected to the organisation, and thus more motivated at work. This may result in them taking greater initiative to share with their employer more efficient ways of working or highlight gaps that they have observed.
However, the challenge for many time-strapped organisations is finding the time to gather employee feedback on a regular basis. Pulse checks are a quick and effective way to gather employee views on specific developments in the organisation, such as newly implemented measures. These can be a valuable complement to more extensive annual employee engagement surveys, enabling employers to quickly identify general employee sentiments and address issues and problems in a timely manner.
An excellent resource is the Fair and Progressive Employment Index (FPEI), which has a free employee survey module that companies can use to gather employee feedback and identify gaps in their practices.
Examining the results and taking follow up action are key steps in building trust. Positive employer-employee relations require a foundation of progressive values and open communication and investing time and effort into nurturing the right work environment can significantly benefit the organisation, creating a more engaged, satisfied and productive workforce.
The Fair and Progressive Employment Index (FPEI) is a free, online self-assessment tool that allows employers to evaluate organisational workplace culture and benchmark their practices against industry peers. The FPEI offers insights and recommendations on how employers can leverage their workforce for better business and employee results.
 The Right Culture: Not Just About Employee Satisfaction, Gallup, 12 April 2017
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