How to handle Employee Relations in Mid-Sized Businesses

How important are employee relations? One word: very.

By Angela Stringfellow. Angela is a social media strategist, and a public relations and marketing communications consultant.

Walk into a workplace. Quick: What’s the vibe? Is the place thrumming? Are workers engaged, busy, upbeat? Or does the tension of the place suck the breath out of you as soon as you enter the lobby? 

Whether you’re the CEO or the customer, a current employee or a potential one, you can tell within minutes whether you’re walking into a hostile environment or a positive one.

If you’re the CEO, you’d better make sure it’s the latter. Good employee relations is as important an operating strategy as a good product or excellent marketing. If morale is bad and your employees are miserable, it will directly—and negatively—impact your success.

Leadership Buy-In

From the CEO to the shift manager, everyone needs to understand the importance of maintaining and developing positive employee relations. Whether it’s dealing with contractors, unionized employees, senior executives or the entry level workforce, company leaders must develop and follow a mission, vision, and values that promote a positive work environment. The culture of the company begins at the top. And the proverbial “it” always flows downhill.

a toxic workplace barrels and fire

Don’t let your workplace be toxic. Unless it’s a nuclear power plant, or something. Actually—especially if it’s a nuclear power plant.
Flickr/K Latham

Just like any 12-step program, company leaders need to be the first to admit there’s a problem, then takes steps to remedy it. Front-line management must work with employees to understand their needs and create a plan of action. 

Transparency and Communication

Employee relations are built and maintained through efficient communications. Poor communications creates a destructive environment. Employees need to know they’re being kept in the loop. Even if it’s as trivial as a change in the dress code to a more career-altering change in ownership, morale will diminish if secrets are kept and leadership can’t be trusted.

Allow employees the opportunity to speak freely to upper management about questions or concerns they have about their positions, the company or even their colleagues and managers. Being able to express their needs without fear is essential in keeping an open forum with employees.

Also, employees need to feel as if their concerns are being addressed. If something requires action, get it done. Show your employees that they’re valuable to the organization and that what they have to say is important.

Build teams

It doesn’t really matter if you work by yourself, behind a desk or if you’re the figurehead of the company: Teamwork is inevitable. Whether it’s a group of department heads making budgetary decisions or laborers working the floor, creating a sense of team develops accountability.

Employees are no longer responsible just for themselves, but for a group of others. Teams that work well together bond, develop dedicated and loyal relationships, and ultimately create positive environments.

Cultivate Positive Relationships

The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” forgets a key component: maintenance. A beautifully running sports car still needs regular oil changes and service. The same holds true for successful and efficient work environments. 
Companies where employee morale is high and relationships are great have to work to maintain it.

Supporting the team is essential. Whether it’s financial incentives, tokens of gratitude or just simply a pat on the back, recognition for jobs done well is vital. More often than not, lack of recognition is a leading cause of morale breakdown and turnover.

Your employees make your company. Without them, almost nothing gets done. Your customers and clients can tell when something isn’t right. That’s why it’s critical to promote and maintain positive relationships with every person who enters your establishment—starting with the people you pay.


TribeHR opens communication channels, helps promote teamwork, and builds positive relationships. See how TribeHR’s affordable software can manage your human resources, faster and easier.


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