In July 2020, the director and chief curator of a Montreal museum was fired after employees reported psychological abuse that created a hostile work environment. The issues came to light after multiple employees quit in the span of a year and the workplace environment was studied by contracted employee relations experts.
Without intervention, the museum could have gained a reputation as an employer to avoid and employees could have suffered lasting emotional damage. Employee relations is an essential part of every workplace, but do you know what exactly it is?
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What is Employee Relations?
According to BambooHR, “employee relations (ER) refers to an organization’s efforts to create and maintain a positive relationship with its employees.”
ER programs strive to:
- Establish trust, respect and appreciation between employees and managers/the employer
- Resolve issues between employees and managers/the employer
- Provide a work environment that is physically and emotionally healthy for employees
RELATED: What is Employee Relations Software?
What Do Employee Relations Professionals Do?
To achieve their goals, employee relations professionals must design a program that marries the needs of employees and their organization. But what does this mean, practically? In a typical week, an ER professional might:
- Encourage managers and employees to meet monthly one-on-one to foster open communication
- Develop and send a feedback form to employees regarding a proposed policy change
- Recognize an employee with a special achievement in a company-wide email (e.g. hit sales target, got great customer feedback)
- Think of ways to show employees that the organization cares about them (e.g. holiday party, on-site snacks, professional development budget, wellness budget)
- Conduct exit interviews
- Collect and analyze employee data
- Address employee complaints
- Create and manage employee benefits plans
Employee Relations vs. Human Resources
Employee relations is one part of HR’s function in an organization. ER tasks might be completed by the HR team or have dedicated staff.
ER specialists usually focus on improving the employee experience. They do this by listening to feedback and applying it in tangible ways, providing professional and emotional support to employees and liaising between employees and management.
Human resources is responsible for these tasks as well as recruiting new employees, handling workplace safety, managing payroll and enforcing company policies.
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HR and ER work hand-in-hand to ensure employees have a safe, enjoyable work experience. Both are essential to an effective program.