Workplace Culture

7 ways to improve employee relations management (2023)

By JD Farrugia

Feb. 24, 2023


  • Effective employee relations management leads to a happier and more productive workforce.

  • Communication, conflict management, regular feedback, familiarity with company values, career development, flexibility, and work-life balance are all ways to improve relations management.

  • Fostering a better work-life balance among your staff is important for maintaining their physical and psychological well-being.

Employee relations management refers to the work done by employers and HR professionals to maintain a positive and fruitful relationship with their team members. The goal is to maintain a positive and productive work environment in which everyone contributes toward achieving organizational goals while growing personally and professionally. 

Effectively managing employee relations has become even more important over the past few years as recent events have put a lot of strain on employer-employee relations in both large and small businesses. 

  • The COVID-19 pandemic created a sudden shift toward hybrid and remote work that has forced many human resources teams to figure out new ways to stay connected with their workforce without geographic proximity. 
  • The Great Resignation saw employees leaving their jobs in search of better quality of life and more rewarding work experiences. 
  • There have been mass layoffs as companies struggle to adapt to a changing economy as a result of inflation, war, and an impending recession. 

Having an effective employee relations strategy brings about a number of benefits: 

  • Employee buy-in of company goals: Employees feel a stronger connection to the company culture and take ownership of the organization’s shared goals and objectives. 
  • Employee engagement: A positive relationship between the HR department and staff increases employee engagement, which, in turn, leads to better motivation, initiative, and employee performance.  
  • Employee retention: Positive employee relations improve job satisfaction, making it more likely that your employees will want to stick around. 


1. Prioritize effective communication

Honest and open communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship, and the same goes for building good employee relations. Effective communication creates connections between employees and management, creating an environment where everyone’s needs are taken into consideration. 

Don’t simply opt for a wishy-washy “open door policy” (every employee’s nightmare). Make a point of scheduling check-ins with employees and even entire teams. This reduces the chances of negative situations in the workplace spiraling out of control.

Effective communication is vital in developing an internal workflow that brings out the best in all parties, making it easier for everyone to produce good work. There should be empathy and understanding of everyone’s experiences and needs across the board, from company ownership and HR managers to the rest of the team. 

2. Familiarize everyone with the organization’s mission and vision

Your mission and vision shouldn’t just be something new employees read on a slide during their onboarding and then forget about. It is important that they are ingrained in the everyday activities of your company and explained in your employee handbook. 

Share and discuss your company values on a regular basis to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Your team needs to understand how their work is directly linked to the implementation and achievement of the company’s goals and strategic vision. 

Any changes in the organization’s vision, mission, or broader policies should be communicated clearly and in a timely manner. This fosters a culture of transparency and continues to reinforce open communication across the team. 

3. Give and encourage regular feedback

Giving and receiving constructive feedback is a crucial part of developing effective employee relations. Employees must be encouraged to give feedback about their work environment. They must also regularly receive feedback and appreciation for the work they’re doing.

Your employees are 2.7 times more likely to be engaged if they believe that they will be recognized for their work. In an SHRM survey, HR professionals agreed that implementing recognition activities increases employee retention and helps to attract new hires. 

Ask your employees for regular feedback on how they feel about work and the direction the company is moving in and if they have any suggestions for improvements. This could be done in a number of ways, such as in focus groups, anonymous surveys, or even entry and exit surveys. 

You can also collect and provide feedback after every workday using’s shift feedback tool

When an employee has done a good job, it is important to show recognition and appreciation. The type of appreciation you give an employee depends on your company’s situation as well as that specific employee’s preference. Your show of appreciation could be public through employee recognition software, a weekly newsletter, or even a LinkedIn recommendation. You can also award a job well done with incentives such as bonuses or extra time off, with team building activities, or by offering stipends for health and well-being initiatives. 


4. Train leaders in conflict management

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable from time to time. That is why it’s important for HR teams and leaders to know how to effectively resolve disputes and issues between team members when they arise. 

  • Keep an eye out for early signs of a conflict that will help you attend to it before it escalates. Such signs include a drop in work quality, employees taking an unusually high number of sick days, or requests to change teams. 
  • Communicate with each party and take the time to understand what happened but also why it happened. 
  • Be careful about the way you frame your questions. Avoid framing questions in a way that places the blame on one party or the other. So instead of saying, “Why did you shout at X during service yesterday?” you can ask, “Can you tell me more about what happened between you and X yesterday?”
  • Make final decisions based on company values and procedures. This is important in situations where you can’t find a solution that will make all parties happy. It is also important to document the case and the resolution, along with an explanation of why you made the decision you did. It is also important to communicate the reasons behind this decision to all parties and to be open to hearing concerns.

Conflict resolution is an important and tricky part of employee management, but if done objectively and systematically, it will lead to more effective results. 


5. Take an active role in your employees’ career development

Taking an active interest and role in your team’s career development is a sure way to improve employee satisfaction and strengthen employee relations. Expanding your workforce’s professional horizons also means that they will be better trained and better equipped to deal with difficult situations, such as unplanned, understaffed shifts. 

There are a number of ways you can do this. You can offer mentoring programs, provide on-the-job opportunities to work shifts they don’t normally work, reimburse tuition fees for courses, or send them to conferences. 

One of the most practical ways to develop employees is to assess, track, and manage their skills. Explicitly outlining and tracking the skills employees need to improve helps them level up their productivity, and in the long run, their careers. 


6. Offer more flexibility 

Flexibility at work is becoming increasingly important for employees today. Studies show that workplace flexibility leads to higher productivity and more connectivity to the workplace culture. It is also a great way to reduce employee absenteeism. In shift-based work, flexibility is best achieved through collaborative scheduling. 

Collaborative scheduling comes in two forms – shift bids and shift swaps. Shift bids are when managers publish a number of shifts that need to be filled, and employees can bid for the ones they want. Shift swaps allow employees to request replacements on an ad hoc basis, subject to a manager’s sign-off.

Offering flexibility among shift workers can get complicated and messy if you’re still using spreadsheets and decentralized communication. Luckily, cloud-based employee scheduling software exists to streamline the whole process.


7. Actively promote employee work-life balance

Employees who enjoy a good work-life balance are satisfied and fulfilled both in the office and in their personal lives. They are more engaged at work while maintaining enough time and energy to dedicate to their personal and family lives. 

The World Health Organization argues that the experience of work on an individual can be either beneficial or disruptive to their mental health. A workplace that values employee needs inside and outside of work leads to happier, healthier, and more productive workers. 

Employers must regularly communicate with their employees to detect and overcome any cases of burnout that could be physically and psychologically detrimental. 


Webinar: Supporting Employee Mental Health


There are a number of different things managers and HR professionals can do to enable their employees to achieve a better work-life balance, such as helping them have enough time and energy outside of work. There are also a number of ways companies can invest in employee wellness.

While at work, it is important to put systems in place that reduce workplace stress and improve happiness and productivity. Human resource management software like can help managers create more effective, less stressful work environments through things like better scheduling and staff communication.

Streamline employee relations management with

Employee relations is a very human endeavor. That said, technology can facilitate many of the processes needed to effectively manage employee relations. offers solutions like flexible scheduling backed by AI, labor forecasting to reduce under or over-staffing, and enhanced employee communications solutions.

To find out more, get in touch with us today.

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