Every organization is aware it needs a solid employee relations strategy. But there are few people who can give you solid guidance on exactly how to DO that.
Building a strong employee relations strategy involves creating an environment that delivers what people want now (or in the near future). Your employees want to feel good about who they are, what they do and where they work. And you want to feel good about productivity, overall performance and the emerging leaders in your organization.
Now before you start getting frustrated about just how much you need to kowtow to employee needs, keep the bottom line in mind. It will save the impact on your employee relations strategy, on employee engagement, and the impact of engagement on the ROI in your company (there are even stats tying it to sales) for another post – so for now, take my word for it. This…is important. Let’s tie our KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to each “need” expressed above.
Employees need to feel good about what they do and where they do it. Decide with your team what values really represent your company and then make them as transparent as possible. Hopefully, these align with the majority of your employees. But even if they don’t, it’s important to articulate them to every person in the organization as these values will drive expected behaviors in your organization. Put measures in place so people can be recognized and applauded when they live up to those values. It should go without saying that leadership is the most beholden to this cultural code.
How: Gather the mission/vision statements and the highest execs you can put in a room and ask them. Build a simple PowerPoint with easy-to-understand statements to disseminate to your employees. If you can, make it public so it can be part of your talent acquisition process.
- Views of the Powerpoint on the company intranet
- Quick follow up survey numbers (increased understanding)
- Number of recognitions coming from employees
- Number of employees and leaders who can articulate values
- Collected and actionable post-hire data
Employees need to know what’s going on. They can’t work in a vacuum and need an avenue for articulating needs, wishes, complaints and goals. What does your newly implemented employee relations strategy do to ensure this happens? Instead of just communicating TO employees, ensure there are flexible ways for employees to communicate back – the good, the bad and yes, the ugly. This also ties to how quickly and how often your employee relations team (this might be your HR professional, line managers, supervisors, etc) responds to both positive and negative employee situations.
How: Create templates with a lexicon of words, easy to implement processes, terms and dates that every ER team member understands and can commit to and every employee comes to expect.
- Time to respond to an internal complaint lowered
- Number of communications (town halls, walk-arounds, emails, calls, logins) increased
- Adherence to steps in the communication plan
Employees need to feel valued for the job they are doing. People who are paid at industry standard or slightly above, feel better about their jobs than those who receive less than market rate for the same work (obviously). And while this is rarely an easy decision to get by the CFO, it still does matter a whole lot in the long run. You can check sites like Glassdoor and even the job ads of competitive firms to discover whether you are leading or lagging when it comes to compensation.
How: This will vary from organization to organization, but some common ways to compensate individuals more without spending too much additional cash include work flex hours, job sharing options and departmental consolidation of repetitive tasks or skill silos.
- Monitor competitors’ benefits and compensation data quarterly (+/- compared to yours)
- Check review sites for negative mentions (KPI is the decrease)
- Review compensation data for obvious trends and use as a benchmark
- Exit interviews…is comp the reason why employees are walking?
Employees need to feel good about how they are treated. Notice I put this point last. A strong employee relations strategy has little to do with managing complaints but more about everything you are doing to create a positive work environment (see points 1 through 3 above). However, when an employee does comes to HR with a complaint (which is inevitable regardless of how well you execute #1-3) , it’s generally about more than the surface issues. Part of being able to resolve these thorny issues and even diffuse them ahead of time is what keeps HR close to the executive powers that be. So don’t just respond to complaints, set a bar for your team that requires a solution and work backwards. Once you are committed to solving the issue and have communicated that to the employee, you have created trust that will drive additional dialogue.
How: Keep an online (even anonymous) repository of cases from employees. Look for trends. Seemingly unrelated issues may start to form a pattern when you can look at the data holistically. Your marketing department understands how to stay in touch with customers outside the walls of your building. Follow their lead by staying in touch with employees internally using free and inexpensive tools like MailChimp, SurveyMonkey, Yammer (similar to internal Facebook) and free and sync-able Google Calendars. Lay out a solution triage to make it easier for busy managers to know exactly what and what not to do. KPIs could be:
- The number of resolved cases in a month
- Decreasing number of complaints over a time period
- Increasing number of cases appropriately filed
- Reducing the number of steps per case
There’s only one way to formulate a solution.
HR Acuity is available to meet with executives and managers in your organization to analyze and recommend specific day-to-day employee relations strategies and organizational protocols. You may also choose to take advantage of our ongoing Advisory Program.
This unique program, the result of extensive research and ongoing client demand, was designed to improve overall organizational effectiveness when dealing with employee relations issues. Clients are appointed an Employee Relations Expert Advisor who will take responsibility for monitoring cases, conducting capability assessments and facilitating individual skills-based training to ensure the most appropriate outcomes and complete record-keeping.