7 Tips to Improve Employee Relations in 2021 and Beyond

7 Tips to Improve Employee Relations in 2021 and Beyond was originally published on Ivy Exec.

employee engagement

The years 2020 and 2021 have been a rollercoaster for many companies. Whatever your industry, your business will have been impacted in some way by COVID-19.

Everyone in your company, from your newest hires right up to senior management, had to get used to working from home. And even if you’re returning to the office now, things may still feel far from “normal”.

As an employer, your relationship with your employees matters. It costs much more to hire a new employee than to retain an existing one … so make sure that you’re doing everything you can to improve employee relations.

This is particularly important if a number of employees have left, if Covid’s impact on your industry has damaged staff morale, or if staff members are dealing with personal bereavements and illness.

You may feel that there’s not a lot you can do to help, as an employer. Perhaps you’d love to hold a big party or company retreat to thank everyone for their hard work, but you simply don’t have the budget. These seven things are all ways to support your staff while costing little or nothing.

1. Make Sure Your Employees Feel Safe Returning to the Office

If your office is open again for in-person work, do your employees feel safe returning? Remember that everyone has a different level of risk tolerance—and some employees may have health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID.

As an employer, you need to make sure that your office is a safe working environment for your employees. And you also need them to feel safe there. This might mean clearly communicating what measures you’re taking—and what measures they should take to protect one another.

For instance, you might adopt some or all of the following measures:

  • Requiring all staff to be vaccinated (unless there’s a medical reason why they can’t be) or to work from home.
  • Requiring staff to wear masks if working in close proximity.
  • Improving ventilation around your office.
  • Increasing cleaning and sanitation of workstations.
  • Having temperature checks on arrival at work.

2. Allow Employees to Continue Working Remotely Where Possible

While remote work is difficult or impossible in some industries, for many office-based workers, it’s just as effective as coming into the office. In fact, you may well find that some of your employees are more effective when working from home, because they have fewer interruptions. If employees want to continue to work remotely, let them do so if possible by adopting a hybrid office model.

Of course, if there’s a good business reason to have staff in the office, then you shouldn’t feel obliged to let them keep working from home. But be sure that you communicate your reasons clearly—and be willing to compromise where possible.

3. Show That You Care About Your Employees As People

If your employees feel you only care about them in terms of what they produce for the company, they’re understandably not going to feel they have a very strong relationship with you. But if you offer benefits to your employees, these can make a huge difference. Benefits don’t need to just be things like medical and dental insurance, though of course those are hugely important. Benefits can also include things like Employee Assistance Programs, fitness classes, and wellness programs.

Another great option is to open up opportunities for continued learning and development. This benefits your employees because they get to further their skills (potentially putting them in a position for a pay rise, promotion, or new job). And it’s good news for your company, too, because you’ll reap the benefits of their new skills.

4. Encourage Employees to Use Sick Leave for Mental Health As Well As Physical Health

For some employees, the Covid pandemic will have had a seriously detrimental effect on their mental health. They may have suffered a bereavement, struggled to access support that they previously had, or simply found lockdown life very difficult.

As an employer, you should normalize taking sick leave for mental health. This could mean telling managers to make it clear to staff that this is a valid use of sick leave or having more training or awareness-raising about mental health issues at work.

5. Thank Employees Who Are Doing a Great Job

A simple “thank you” can go a very long way at work—and for many employees, being appreciated is even more important than extra money. Simply recognizing when someone has gone the extra mile can make a huge difference to how engaged and positive they feel about work.

Given the difficulties of the past two years, you can also look out for opportunities to thank people who’ve simply managed to complete their usual tasks despite their circumstances. Many employees will have been working from home with small children around, struggling with a poor internet connection, or facing other difficulties just to complete their work. Make sure they know that you saw and appreciated their efforts.

6. Provide Positive (Not Just Corrective) Feedback

When you talk with employees, do you only provide corrective feedback? Many managers and senior executives fall into this trap. It’s easy to assume that staff members will know that they’re doing a good job … and that if you don’t mention something, that means there are no problems.

Look at this from your employee’s point of view, though. If they only ever get feedback from you when they’ve done something wrong, they’re going to start wondering if they’re doing anything right. Make sure you balance out corrective feedback with plenty of positive feedback about what they’re doing well.

7. Communicate Clearly and Transparently

In the aftermath of Covid, your company might be making some changes. Perhaps you’re introducing new policies to keep everyone safe. Maybe you’re in the sad position of needing to cut costs and lay off staff members.

As much as possible, communicate clearly and transparently with your employees. Don’t leave people wondering why something has changed (or uncertain whether it will)—be upfront about what’s happening and why.

 

It can take time to foster strong employee relations—but this time is well-spent. It will help you reduce turnover, increase productivity, and create a company that attracts top talent.

By Jessica Perkins - Ivy Exec
Ivy Exec
Ivy Exec is your dedicated career development resource.