Employee Relations, HR Strategy

What’s the Golden Rule of Employee Relations?

It’s really just the Golden Rule. Treat your employees the way that you want them to treat you (or the way you want them to treat your customers or clients).

In last month’s blog we discussed how to recruit great talent. It makes sense that we should follow up this month with how to keep that talent. The key is pretty simple – it’s time to deliver on whatever you promised them during the recruiting process. Ultimately, employees want to know that their employers take them and their needs seriously and are willing to invest in their success for the long term.

Developing and maintaining excellent employee relations is key to keeping your employees. Not only keeping them on your payroll but keeping them productive and profitable. All too often, employers don’t think about employee relations until they think of it in terms of solving a problem. As in, “morale is down, and people are quitting; we better order some pizza and get some of those employee relations going on.”

It’s far better to think of employee relations as an investment that is just as important as your most valued piece of machinery or your most coveted secret spice. What are some keys to good employee relations and developing a plan for the Golden Rule?

1). It doesn’t happen by accident.

Just because you perceive that everyone gets along and everyone loves the company and the boss is great, it doesn’t mean that you’ve got a strong culture and good relations. You need someone who is focusing on the employee experience as their job every day. Your culture and successful employee relations aren’t just about having a great employee breakroom and trendy company logo wear — it all comes down to how your employees feel on Sunday night before they come to work on Monday morning. Just like maintaining a machine, someone in the organization must oversee keeping this alive and healthy.

2). Know your employees and meet them where they are.

We talked a lot about flexibility in last month’s blog, and we are probably going to keep talking about it every chance we get. Your employees want to know that you hear them and, more importantly, that you get them. We’ve already provided the details on work-life harmony being a priority for employees when picking a new job or staying with their current one. This isn’t going to change. Employees want to know that their company sees them as individuals who are in a partnership with the company that is mutually beneficial – not just an asset.

3). Truly support work life harmony.

It’s one thing to let employees have a flexible schedule or time off when they need it. It’s another thing to actually support If an employee feels like there are consequences to adjusting their schedule or taking time off, whatever situation that caused the need for the time off, is going to be amplified and their stress levels exacerbated. Plus, they are going to feel that their managers really don’t care but are just following the required policy. However, when managers encourage employees to take care of themselves – and actually demonstrate it by maintaining a healthy balance themselves – employees can see how it is possible to achieve high goals in the organization in a way that is healthy and supports their personal life.

4). Lead with empathy.

When you hire an employee, you are hiring the entire human, with all their skills and flaws, all their good and bad, all their experience and need for growth. Managers need to recognize that while we can expect people to be professional at work and focus on work at work, people have full lives that will impact them at work from time to time. Plus, now that so many of us are working from home, the separation between work life and home life is very thin. It’s more important than ever for managers to recognize individual needs and to understand that circumstances matter when addressing employees. Not every situation warrants the same response. When employees feel that their leadership genuinely cares about their circumstances and their wellbeing, they become more invested and engaged in their organization.

5). Say thank you.

Even small ways of expressing gratitude can carry a lot of impact. It’s important to be specific when expressing gratitude to show that you really understand the job that they did. Showing admiration for a job well done can significantly improve an employee’s attitude toward the organization and help individuals feel appreciated.

6). Create a culture of psychological safety.

This might sound like something out of a group therapy session and not like the workplace, but the truth is it’s a workplace must. Psychological safety at work is when employees know that they won’t be humiliated or punished for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or for making mistakes. It’s also a mutual expectation by colleagues and managers that no one will embarrass, punish, or reject them for sharing ideas. The absence of psychological safety in the workplace will lead to a culture of blame or retaliation, or one in which people are afraid to speak up about concerns.

7). Leadership needs to be visible.

When a leader is visible and engaged, they are better able to understand the needs and concerns of their employees, identify opportunities for improvement, and make informed decisions more quickly. Employees are more likely to come to them faster when there are problems or concerns. However, if an employee rarely sees their leadership or if they are seen as intimidating or unapproachable, there’s going to be a barrier in communication. People believe what they can see; if they see an engaged leader who cares about them and their colleagues, and who understands their jobs and needs, they will believe that’s what they have.

8). Communicate and Explain the What and Why.

It’s one thing to give employees updates. It’s another to explain them in ways that provide a full picture of what and why. Improved communication can help employees understand the company goal and vision and their place in achieving it, which can help them feel like they are an active part in something bigger. This sense of community creates deeper relationships among team members, which will lead to increased employee satisfaction and, well, better relations.

Sounds pretty simple, right? All things you are ready to do? Have no idea where to start? We can help.

March 13, 2024

Paula Agee, VP of Human Resources and Chief People Officer

Let Us Help You Achieve The Golden Rule In The Workplace.

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