Employee Relations Manager
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What Is An Employee Relations Manager?
An employee relations manager falls under HR because the primary focus of this manager is to resolve any conflicts between employees. Employee relations managers’ scope of work includes designing company employee-relations programs and implementing policies and procedures while fostering and maintaining good communication and relationships among employees. Should there be disputes at any level in your organization, ideally, the employee relations manager would have the knowledge, skills, and company support to handle them appropriately. Think of this role by breaking down the title: the employee relations manager is there to manage the relationships among employees and between the company and its workers.
Why Is An Employee Relations Manager Important?
Having a strong employee-employer relationship benefits the entire organization. Let’s look at a few reasons why this role is so important.
- Mutual respect. Any time you invest in relationships, it creates a level of respect. Employees appreciate that they are being listened to, and do the same in return. Often, organizations expect employees to just do their jobs because they are being paid, but it’s been proven that employees stay with an organization longer if they feel respected by their employer.
- Trust. The saying “employees don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses” speaks to the importance of an employee relations manager. Not only does this person foster the procedures and policies for the entire organization, but they bridge the gap between employee to employer, continually creating trust.
- Communication. Through the dedicated work of an employee relations manager, your team has mutual respect and trust, thus breeding employee engagement through continual communication. When your workplace is healthy on the employee relations front, communication is open and honest, freeing employees to work harder and give their best.
- Less chance of conflict. Conflict can lead to an unsuccessful business and often arise between an employer and employee. With an employee relations manager in place, employees have a safe place to air grievances and allow them to be mitigated by an unbiased, professional individual. This alone could benefit your organization greatly.
Responsibilities of An Employee Relations Manager
While this list does not contain every responsibility an employee relations manager can have—as in any HR role, many hats can be worn—this should encompass most of the responsibilities of an employee relations manager.
Cast a Vision
Before your employee relations manager can do any other aspect of their role, it’s important that your leadership establishes your employee engagement philosophy. Brainstorm if you want an open line of communication with your employees; establish what your challenges to employee relationships are and how to mitigate them; evaluate current practices and how you grow them, and focus on reducing overall company risk.
Through this process, your employee relations manager should be able to establish an engagement philosophy for your organization to continually implement and develop moving forward. Should your organization have an effective employee engagement philosophy already in place, the employee relations manager simply continually evaluates whether this philosophy is effective, and implements accordingly.
Enhance Employee Engagement
Realistically, everything the employee relations manager does fall under this umbrella: enhancing employee engagement, i.e. fostering the level of enthusiasm and loyalty a worker feels to the company and their work. Your organization can develop the means or practices that best fit your culture model, but the main responsibility of an employee relations manager is to enhance employee engagement while overseeing the employee relations department as that applies to your organization.
Create and Implement Policies/Philosophies
In order to continually enhance employee engagement, the employee relations manager identifies and drives philosophies to support the employee relations culture for your organization. These policies shape your organization as you grow, so they must be created and executed to your company standards. This can include identifying potential risks (such as hour and wage issues or safety hazards in the workplace) and adjusting/creating policies accordingly, evaluating processes to introduce new perspectives, and staying current on employee relation trends or legal requirements.
After your employee relations manager has cast a vision, focused on enhancing employee engagement, created and implemented policies and philosophies, they design and administer training to continually drive these concepts home for your employees. This could entail employee recognition programs, communications training, diversity and inclusion training, and assisting with workplace events.
Employee Relations Cases
The ability to respond, manage, document, and resolve conflict to mitigate risk to the organization is a major responsibility of the employee relations manager. Ensuring that these cases are processed, documented, and resolved in a way that benefits the employee and the organization is a portion of this role. Through consistent evaluation of current employee relations processes, training, and a focus on employee engagement, the hope would be that these cases would happen less frequently and be more easily resolved when they do arise.
Legal Advisor/Labor Negotiator
Some degree of this role will be focused on the legal aspect. Responsibilities include advising and coaching managers or executives on legal affairs as it pertains to your organization. Negotiation with employee and labor unions falls under the employee relations manager’s scope of work, and in some organizations, unemployment cases and hearings could also fall to this role. The employee relations manager should have a solid understanding of the laws that affect an organization and how to mitigate the risk accordingly.
Skills an Employee Relations Manager Requires
As with any HR position, the required skills of an employee relations manager are vast. Let’s review a few that will be essential for this role to succeed in your organization.
While most roles require some level of professional oral and written communication, this role depends heavily on communication. Excelling in communication must be a priority.
Some employee relations cases require knowledge of applicable laws, guidelines, regulations, or ordinances outside your organization. Your employee relations manager must be able to comprehend, interpret, and apply the laws that relate to your company.
Although your employee relations manager spends their time trying to avoid conflict throughout your organization, disputes are inevitable. An employee relations manager should understand the art of negotiation and de-escalation and have the ability to empathetically listen while resolving a conflict in the best interest of your employees and organization.
Discretion, Integrity, and Confidentially
An employee relations manager handles high-level company issues, policies, and philosophies that need to be handled with discretion, integrity, and confidentiality.
How to Become an Employee Relations Manager
While the requirements of an employee relations manager can vary based on the organization, a few items to have under your belt in order to become an employee relations manager are as follows.
Step 1: Education
Most roles require at minimum a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field. Do not underestimate the power of a degree, especially when it comes to employee relations and managing individuals. This shows your employer that you are able to see a project (in this case, your degree) through to the end. The power this holds when seeking out your career is extremely valuable.
Step 2: Experience
This tends to be a touchy subject: how do you get experience for your dream job if you are not given the opportunity to work in your dream job? When it comes to employee relations, simply ask to be brought in on some of these situations. Express your desire to see more of the employee relations side of HR and contribute accordingly. This will help you start gaining the experience to become an employee relations manager.
Step 3: Skills
As you are working on the experience, focus on building skills as well. Develop your problem-solving skills, learn to manage stress as you experience more employee relations cases, improve your ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment, and demonstrate that your judgment and decision-making skills are growing. Perhaps request to sit in on some meetings, if possible, with your current employee relations manager to foster the skills you’re trying to create. Look for specific employee relations-specific webinars or classes you can attend. Do anything you can to get a taste of the field and continually polish the skills needed for an employee relations manager.
Step 4: Certification
The first step in the certification process would be to evaluate with your employer, or on your own, which certification is right for your future. Look at the different options and levels that apply to your current and future goals and decide which would benefit your continued career success. While this will depend on the organization, most require some level of certification for a management position, especially something as specifically employee-focused as an employee relations manager, so be sure to spend the time researching which certification is right for you.
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Shalie has over 4 years of experience working in a variety of HR positions and organizations including: working as an HR department “of one”, working with a start-up based in Europe, to working in a fully established robust USA based HR department. Shalie has experience in multiple states and countries with all aspects of the HR spectrum. She has a passion to share her knowledge and experience to benefit the HR profession!
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