Employee relations is an area within the human resources field. The purpose of employee relations is to strengthen the employer-employee relationship through identifying and resolving workplace issues, measuring employee satisfaction and morale, and providing support and input to the company's performance management system. Employee relations is important because human resources strategy and organizational success depend heavily on the productivity and engagement of a company's work force.
Employee Relations Specialist Duties
Fully staffed human resources departments generally have an employee relations specialist. However, an HR generalist can perform the same duties provided the generalist's level of expertise includes significant work in all human resources disciplines. A seasoned employee relations specialist has expertise in compensation and benefits, workplace safety, recruitment and selection, and training and development. Given the broad exposure to HR topics, some human resources managers start their careers in employee relations.
Workplace issues range from employee complaints about working conditions to allegations of discriminatory employment practices. The employee relations area of HR must be capable of handling all types of workplace concerns. Investigating, resolving and mediating employee complaints are functions of the employee relations discipline. In companies where employees are represented by a labor union, the employee relations or labor relations specialist is responsible for handling labor management issues, collective bargaining agreement interpretations and employee grievances.
Measuring employee satisfaction is another important function of employee relations. Employee satisfaction, morale and engagement are intangible references to how well employees enjoy working for the company. It's the responsibility of the employee relations area to determine if employee morale is high or low, and if it's low, why. Conducting employee opinion surveys is a common method that employers use to measure the workplace climate. Administering the survey and analyzing survey results are within the purview of employee relations. Employee relations specialists understand the types of questions necessary to elicit information about employee satisfaction. They also know how to design action plans that bring about results and changes in working conditions.
Employee performance has a significant impact on the employer-employee relationship. Therefore, employee relations plays an integral role in developing and implementing performance management systems. This includes constructing a performance appraisal program that meets the needs of the work force, as well as training supervisors and managers in how to provide constructive feedback to employees. The employee relations area is usually responsible for monitoring performance issues and ensuring that supervisors, managers and employees understand the purpose of performance management in the overall scheme of the organization.
- Inc magazine: Great Customer Service Starts wiith Employee Relations
- University of California, San Diego: Employee Relations, Policy Development and Work/Life
- Virginia Department of Human Resource Management: Employee Relations Manager
- Encyclopedia of Business: Industrial Relations
- University of Oregon: Employee & Labor Relations
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Human Resources, Training, and Labor Relations Managers and Specialists
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. In addition, she is a certified facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer . Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.