How to Deal With Employee Relations Issues

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An employee relations specialist handles matters that affect the employer-employee relationship. Specific activities of an employee relations specialist include investigating and resolving formal and informal employee complaints, analyzing employee turnover, improving performance and productivity through developing clear communication channels and enhancing employee satisfaction. Handling employee relations issues requires an expert who understands labor and employment laws and is capable of applying appropriate policies and laws to resolve employment matters. Employee relations specialists utilize their skills, expertise and knowledge to handle workplace issues as effectively as possible.

An employee relations specialist handles matters that affect the employer-employee relationship. Specific activities of an employee relations specialist include investigating and resolving formal and informal employee complaints, analyzing employee turnover, improving performance and productivity through developing clear communication channels and enhancing employee satisfaction. Handling employee relations issues requires an expert who understands labor and employment laws and is capable of applying appropriate policies and laws to resolve employment matters. Employee relations specialists utilize their skills, expertise and knowledge to handle workplace issues as effectively as possible.

Interact with employees on a regular basis, not just when you are investigating a complaint or addressing an employee issue. Experts in the human resources field consider regular interaction important because it humanizes the work force and the human resources function. Employees aren't simply workers identified by an employee identification number. Demonstrating an interest in employees conveys a message that the company cares about them as individuals -- individuals whose opinions, skills and talent matter.

Regular interaction also builds interpersonal relationships. Human resources staff members gain employees' confidence and trust through strong employer-employee relationships. When employee issues arise, that confidence and trust is essential to resolving workplace conflict.

Disseminate workplace policies via the employee handbook and staff meetings. Become familiar with company policies and develop your ability to interpret policies without reservation. Employees look to human resources staff members for expert guidance and, therefore, the application and interpretation of company policies is one of the most important functions for an employee relations specialist. In many cases, resolving workplace issues depends solely on an appropriate interpretation and application of company policies. Your expertise in this area is absolutely necessary to do your part in addressing workplace concerns that employees bring to your attention.

Participate in new employee orientation, as well as supervisor and manager training. Use orientation and training sessions as an opportunity to establish your reputation with employees as a trusted and knowledgeable adviser. Newly hired employees with relatively little interaction with human resource staff outside the recruitment and selection process will better understand the purpose of an employee relations specialist. Your input during supervisor and manager training provides leaders with some of the skills necessary to address departmental issues before matters escalate to the human resources department.

Maintain confidentiality to the extent possible whenever you are investigating employee relations issues. Another way to build trust and confidence in the human resources department is through handling employee concerns with integrity and professionalism. Do not discuss employee issues with anyone outside the human resources department unless required to do so during a workplace investigation.

Devote time to your professional development as an employee relations specialist and human resources expert. Improve your understanding and knowledge of labor and employment laws, workplace trends and legislation that affect the labor market. Engage in cross-discipline activities that broaden your expertise. This will improve your capability of handling workplace issues in all the areas of human resources, including compensation and benefits, safety and risk management, recruitment and selection and training and development. Expanding your capabilities will also improve your contributions and value you bring to your organization's human resources function and the company overall.

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About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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