Do you wish that you could maintain good employee relationships with your staff all year round? It seems like a pipe dream. When you’re trying to motivate a team to produce the necessary work to keep your business afloat, maintaining strong bonds with everyone seems impossible.
Part of the process is hiring the right people in the first place. For instance, it’s almost impossible to keep people who score low on agreeableness happy and content in their roles.
However, the main work of maintaining good employee relations actually just comes down to a handful of factors. What’s more, you don’t have to explore any fancy management practises or develop world-beating leadership skills. The things that really count are mainly just HR-related process issues – things that you can resolve by going through the motions.
As you read this post, the simplicity of some of the interventions will strike you. It doesn’t actually take much to maintain good employee relations. What matters most is getting the basics right. Then, if you want to add extras on top of that, you can, but don’t feel obliged.
Here are the most common issues you’ll face and how to deal with them:
Problems With Attendance
With the great resignation threatening to become the great revolt, attendance issues are in the forefront of leaders’ minds. Even if employees are still technically employed with you, they’re not always showing up for work on time.
Attendance issues are a major drag on productivity and business performance. When workers don’t show up, it generally has significant knock-on effects, most notably in the way that it puts extra pressure on staff who do show up on time.
Managers can also get into a habit of turning a blind eye. Employees might skip work an average of one day a week, but always seem to come up with excuses that allow them to wriggle out of their contractual obligations. Leaders don’t always want to confront them for fear of conflict.
Dealing with attendance issues requires adopting a step-by-step approach and applying the same formula to all employees, regardless of their standing in the company.
Start by raising the issue with the employee, letting them know that you are aware of their poor attendance record. Find out what’s behind it and work to improve it.
If things don’t change after a specified period, escalate the issue. Put sanctions in place. Naturally, if that doesn’t work, you’ll need to consider termination.
The key to good relations is to make sure that you address the employee’s concerns. Often, you can resolve complaints by simply correcting something that is going wrong in the office.
Employee relations can also begin to take a dive if workplace safety is poor. Staff don’t want to turn up to work if they believe that they are in physical danger. Many can’t afford insurance and don’t want the process of earning money to put their bodies in harm’s way.
The response to potential hazards should be two-fold:
- Remove the hazard or provide safety equipment to mitigate it
- Publicize that you’re committed to keeping your employees safe
Warehouse managers are generally extremely good on both these fronts. They work to reduce the hazard posed by forklift trucks, for instance, and train their employees on how to remain safe. Taking this paternalistic approach serves as evidence for employees that you always take their health and safety seriously, encouraging them to show up on time and enjoy the work that they perform with you.
You should also be aware of the risk of fatigue. Working the same employees over time repeatedly is not a good idea, and something that you’ll want to avoid in whatever way you can.
Make sure that you provide hi-vis jackets, gloves, masks, goggles and any other safety gear that staff require. Even if your industry doesn’t strictly require this safety equipment, make it available to employees who want to use it anyway.
Number Of Hours Worked
If you keep employees longer than their contracted hours (or you refuse to pay them for the actual hours they work), you’re stealing. And, as you might guess, employees don’t like it. They want you to compensate them for the value that they provide. Bullying them into staying longer is a form of abuse.
Fortunately, most employers don’t exploit their workers, but they can find it hard to count and manage the true number of hours that employees work. Spreadsheets and timesheets are not ideal.
For this reason, firms are moving towards staff scheduling software. This automates data entry and makes it easy to calculate wages. Most versions you can connect to clocking in systems, so you eliminate the need for manual entry. Staff get paid for the precise hours that they work, so they’re happy. And you’re happy because you don’t have to go through the hassle of endless time-keeping.
Promotions are another source of problems for leaders and employees. Get them wrong, and you could have a revolt on your hands. Even a single misplaced word can land you in trouble, particularly if the employee takes it the wrong way.
Ultimately, what most employees want is a pay rise. They’d like you to give them a little extra money each month so that they can keep pace with the cost of living.
That’s easier said than done, though. Some companies are downstream from inflation, meaning that increases in their revenues only show up many months after price rises begin to bite.
To deal with this, set out a pay rise schedule with your employees in advance. If you can, link it to the underlying rate of inflation, quoted by public authorities. If the inflation rate is 2 percent, increase wages by 2 percent. If it is 4 percent, increase wages by 4 percent. Build a delay into the schedule so that price increases show up in your revenues first.
Having a plan set out in advance helps to defuse pay-related angst before it arises. Everyone knows where they stand. If employees want you to pay them more than their basic rate, add a bonus scheme that links to performance targets.
Interpersonal conflicts between staff and managers shouldn’t happen. Leaders should have the necessary skills to navigate potential issues and keep their teams onside.
Unfortunately, such people are few and far between. Most leaders engage in regular conflict, causing a breakdown in company culture and relations. People in senior positions can get defensive, acting in ways that aren’t ideal.
If you are in conflict with your employees, here are some of the things that you can do to resolve the issue:
- Be active when you listen. Don’t just want for the employee to finish speaking so that you can say your piece. Listen carefully to what they have to say and respond accordingly. When they are describing a problem that they face, don’t interrupt. Make the right sounds to convince them that you are listening.
- Be empathetic. Show that you understand where the employee is coming from. Validate their grievances if they have any to make it seem as though you are on their side.
- Talk it through. Let them get whatever issues that they have with working for you off their chest. Listen to their side of the argument and try to understand where they are coming from.
You’ll find that if you manage your employees’ emotions, conflict will naturally disappear. In many cases, the issues aren’t around hard business problems, such as pay, but instead more to do with how individual employees feel. Once they feel good, the demands they make of you will naturally ebb.
Disputes Over Annual Leave
Employees work hard all year. For that reason, they want to be able to choose when they take vacations. They don’t want HR telling them that they can’t go away in the summer because “demand is high” or “projects require completion.”
Make sure that you deal with these issues using the appropriate software. Plan the year so that there is less need for people to be in the office over the summer and holidays. Get people to complete the most challenging tasks in the spring and fall.
Also, make sure that you offer employees enough vacation time throughout the year. As a highly motivated business leader, you may be able to work non-stop for years on end without taking a break. But most employees aren’t like that. They see work as just something that they have to do to enjoy life, not life itself.
Most employees will need a week off every quarter to recharge their batteries. That means around 20 days of paid vacation leave per year. If you can go higher than that, perhaps to 30 days per year, you’ll find that it further motivates your employees. What’s more, many of them won’t actually take it. They’ll want to stay in the office earning money for their retirements.
In summary, maintaining good employee relations can help your business tremendously. But it comes down to just seven major factors, all of which you can easily resolve.