Employee Relations

  • Business Advice
Peninsula Group Limited - a group of diverse employees working well together
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

One of the most valuable resources you have as an employer is your staff. Ensure that you keep your business productive with our positive employee relations guide.

Whatever your business, your staff are vital to your success.

That's why it's so important to have positive employee relations. It leads to increased loyalty, trust, and respect. This makes employees valuable to your company's success.

Without solid employee relations, you could face countless concerns. Like losing productivity and talented employees.

In this guide, we'll look at employee relations, why they're important, and how to build strong work relationships.

What are employee relations?

Employee relations describe the link between managers and their staff. It was previously known as 'industrial relations'.

It refers to how an employer treats their workers. And how these workers interact with their peers or company, as a result.

Employment relations aren’t always positive though. Sometimes, employee engagement suffers because of bad environments or unfair treatment.

It all comes down to the employer. They have a duty to grow a good employment relationship with every person they hire.

Why are employee relations important?

It’s normal for employees to face issues at work from time to time. But if you ignore them, it can lead to huge costs for your company.

Workplace conflicts can damage employee morale and motivation. In certain cases, employees may even raise their complaint to an employment tribunal.

An example of this is changing an employee’s wages without their agreement. If mismanaged, your company could end up facing a constructive dismissal claim.

You should train your managers or HR department to deal with these types of conflicts. At the root of it, you need a solid employee relationship. It helps sustain trust and makes employees feel like valued members of your team.

What are examples of employee relations issues?

Workplace conflict comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. But employers must focus on resolving them in the best way possible.

Let's look at examples of employee relations issues found in the workplace:

Working conditions

Accidents at work happen more often than we’d like. Employers still have a legal duty to reduce them as much as possible.

Your company needs to have proper health and safety procedures (H&S) in place. That means making sure all working practices comply with H&S law.

If not, employees could end up getting injured, losing wages, and taking medical leave. Bad health and safety management can even lead to lost revenue and brand damage.

Pay rise requests

There are a number of reasons why an employee may receive a pay rise. They may have reached certain goals or hit high targets.

But if you unfairly ignore pay rise requests, it can have a direct impact on employee relations. It leaves them feeling devalued and unappreciated. Some may decide to quit and work elsewhere.

Even if you offer fair wages, you should consider every pay rise request fairly. It might be worth giving, especially if it means keeping your best employees.

Bullying and harassment

Sometimes, workplace conflicts can lead to horrible behaviour.

Employers have a legal duty to deal with all bullying and harassment claims. These types of situations have huge impacts on people. Employees may worry about facing their ‘bully’ at work.

Bullying and harassment doesn't just affect victims. It affects your organisation on a whole. It ruins your company brand-name and increases absenteeism.

If an employee decides to take legal action, you could face costly fines in court.

Work hour issues

It's so important to keep track of all hours that your staff work. This might seem like an obvious thing to do. But the smallest mistake can leave staff feeling frustrated and unmotivated.

It’s even more important to track those with irregular work hours, like zero-hour contract workers. If you miscount work hours, employees may decide to take legal action against you for unpaid wages.

Conflict management

Not everyone is going to get along all the time. It's common for employees to raise a workplace conflict.

But you can't just ignore disgruntled employees. Employers need to manage these disputes in the proper way.

Line-managers or human resources may deal with disputes. Or you might decide to hire an employee relations manager. They usually have the final say on the verdict.

If a workplace conflict is left unresolved, it can breed low morale and respect. Not to mention, it can make certain employee relations issues even worse.

Employee relations with individual employees

All businesses should know the value of individual employee relations.

When an employee works in a positive environment, it leads to job satisfaction. This grows ambition, drive, and loyalty. It can improve business outcomes for your organisation, too.

Keeping every employee happy might seem hard. But it's worth noting the importance of fairness and respect.

Communication is also key. Employees should be able to share problems with you – before they consider going to trade unions for advice.

Employee relations with collective relationships

In the past employees would often go to their trade unions if they had a work issue. They felt their managers wouldn’t be willing to help fix the problem. Or they were scared about the consequences of raising a complaint.

These days employee representatives come in the form of HR teams and work advisors. They’re able to offer advice on issues, in a private and beneficial manner.

It’s important to value collective relationships, too. Your workforce shouldn’t see themselves as 'paid labour'. Rather, they’re the driving force of every successful business. Without them, you're just one person with an idea.

The way you treat employees is also linked to business reputation. Bad employee experiences can be shared with the public. And this sort of damage can be hard to recover from.

How to build positive employee relations

Good employee relations aren’t only about managing people. It’s about making employees the heart of your business.

It takes time for these sorts of work attitudes to form. But you’ll be able to get there faster with the right ethics and mind-frame. Think about helping your employees before they reach out to their trade unions for advice.

Let’s look at ways to build positive employee relations in the workplace:

Create an employee relations policy

The first step to take is creating an employee relations policy.

This is your statement on dealing with employee-related issues. Your policy should cover ethics and values that apply in your company.

It's important to support individual employees, as well as staff on a whole. (Depending on the circumstances, certain rules could vary between the two).

Use an employee relations strategy

After making your policy, employers should create an employee relations strategy.

This is a plan to help meet employee needs. The strategy includes individuals, as well as your management team. Both sides have their own needs, so it’s important to create a balanced relationship between them.

For example, you want excellent employee engagement when meeting top clients. If done well, your company gains a great business contact. Employees are then rewarded for their efforts.

A good employee relations strategy supports both sides of your workforce. You can even create key indicator incentives (KPIs) for things like:

  • Number of recognitions.
  • Rewards and benefits.
  • Job satisfaction.
  • Work productivity.

Develop open and honest communication

An integral part to develop is having honest and open dialogue.

Employees should be able to speak up about any issues they’re facing at work. Creating a safe space where they can use their ‘employee voice’ is vital. It’s also important that they feel comfortable to speak to you before seeking advice elsewhere.

Listen to their concern, even if it's not work-related. If they have a personal wellbeing issue, it’s bound to leak into the workplace. In the end, communication helps create a healthy, positive relationship.

Listening and problem-solving skills are also involved. So, make sure you (or your managers) are good at this. And take anything employees say as constructive feedback.

Be honest about workplace changes

You need to be honest about any work changes you plan to make. You might not think it relates to everyone. But changes could affect more employees than you realise.

Maybe you want to change a worker’s contractual terms. Or you want to reshuffle a whole team. Whatever the development is, you need to inform your staff as soon as possible.

Make transparent practices and answer any questions they have on them. You need to explain your reasons behind the changes and why they’re needed. It’s also good to be open to collective bargaining and consultations.

Hire an employee relations manager

You can’t build good employee relations overnight. It's a process that grows a little every day.

A great way to do this is by hiring an employee relations manager. You can ask your own line-managers to take this role. Or you can hire an employee relations team-lead.

When an employee has an issue, they’d normally turn to their line-managers first. It’s understandable; they work together every day and feel comfortable around them.

That’s why it's useful to ask your management to help grow employee relations. You can offer them training to focus on:

  • Teamwork building.
  • Conflict resolution.
  • Change management.

Encourage positive employee relations

Employee relations are important because they're the driving force behind all companies.

It doesn't matter if you hire one person or a hundred. Positive employee relations lead to better company revenue and productivity.

You should encourage good employee experience. Remind staff that they aren’t just ‘paid labour’, they’re the heart of your business. Just through open talks, you’ll be able to grow mutual trust and respect.

Get expert advice on employee relations with Peninsula

It might seem like a matter for small companies to think about. But don't underestimate the importance of strong employee relations.

Employees should be able to talk to you about their issues, rather than a trade union. In time, it'll lead to a happier relationship and well-being.

But if you ignore what employee relations refers to, you could end up losing staff. Not to mention lost revenue and brand damage to follow.

Peninsula offers expert advice on employee relations. Our teams provide 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and health & safety questions


Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

Related articles

  • a man and woman in supermarket uniform


    HR in Retail

    In this guide, we'll discuss why HR in retail can be difficult, the challenges you might face, and how to manage them.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Business Advice
  • a man and woman in hard hats outside warehouse looking at computer


    Night Workers

    In this guide, we'll discuss night work, the rights of night workers, and what you must do to comply with the law.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Employment Law
  • a woman sat at a desk and computer


    What is HR Software?

    In this guide, we'll discuss HR systems, the benefits of using HR software, and how Peninsula can make your HR processes easier.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Business Advice
Back to resource hub

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and Health & Safety questions

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.