When running a business, an unfortunate occurrence that often takes place is separation between management and employees. This can lead to decreased production, strained relationships, and even lawsuits. In these instances, labor relations are not being effectively maintained — but there are ways to prevent this from happening, and to foster a better relationship between employees and management.
In this article, we will go over five of the best ways to improve labor relations in the workplace. Let’s jump right in!
Tip 1: Make an effort to know your employees
Oftentimes, the reason communication between HR and employees turns south is a simple lack of understanding. It’s HR’s job to manage the company, but it can be difficult to do that effectively if they don’t know their employees on a personal level.
Knowing your employees means knowing their difficulties, their wants, and their goals. HR should be able to identify with employees on a personal level in order to understand them better as workers. That way, there are fewer barriers between HR and the employees, making it easier to communicate when there are problems that need to be addressed.
To get to know your employees better, there are a number of steps HR can take:
Host company events
This can be anything from a holiday party to an outing at a nearby amusement park, but it doesn’t need to be extravagant; a simple pizza party in the office will do. This will give HR a chance to get to know employees better on a personal level and see them outside of work.
Have an open door policy
Allow employees to come talk to you about anything, whether it’s work-related or not. HR should be approachable and available to employees so that they feel comfortable coming to them when there are problems or concerns.
Encourage employee feedback
Set up a system where employees can provide anonymous feedback about their work experience. This could be through an online survey or simply a suggestion box in the office. By gathering feedback from employees, HR can get an idea of what’s working and what needs improvement.
With a better understanding of employees, HR can communicate with them more effectively and build better relationships in the workplace.
Tip 2: Create opportunities for employees to progress
An issue that often arises in labor relations is bitterness toward HR and management for what employees perceive as a lack of opportunity for advancement. This can lead to feelings of resentment and a decrease in productivity, and it makes employees feel inferior and unimportant.
One way to prevent this issue is to create opportunities for employees to progress within the company. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as:
- Offering training and development programs that allow employees to learn new skills and grow their knowledge base.
- Promoting employees who have demonstrated superior performance or leadership qualities.
- Creating a system in which employees can be transferred to different departments or roles, depending on their skills and interests.
By providing opportunities for employees to grow and progress within the company, HR and management demonstrate that everyone has equal potential for success, regardless of their position within the organization. This can help to create a more positive and productive work environment.
Tip 3: Take advantage of digital communication
In 2022, many businesses are moving to platforms like Slack and Zoom that allow for better communication among coworkers. If your company has not made the switch yet, it’s time to consider doing so.
Digital communication platforms have a number of advantages over traditional methods like email and phone calls. They allow for real-time communication, which is great for team projects and collaboration. They also make it easy to share files and keep track of conversations.
In the context of labor relations, they help to foster a certain culture — one of openness, transparency, and accessibility. This can be especially helpful when there are disagreements or conflict within the workplace.
Communication platforms also:
- Enable remote working, which can be a great option for employees with young children or other caregiving responsibilities
- Reduce the need for office meetings, which can save time and money
- Help create a sense of community among coworkers
- Show all employees, regardless of position or seniority, that their voice matters
If your company is not already using a digital communication platform, it’s time to consider doing so. They can help to improve labor relations in the workplace and make the workplace more productive overall.
Tip 4: Create a labor relations team
You may already have an established HR team, but in some cases, it might be helpful to create a separate labor relations team. This team should consist of individuals with expertise in union avoidance, contract negotiations, and grievance procedures. When disputes or problems arise, this team can help to quickly and efficiently resolve them.
The advantage of having a dedicated team for labor relations is that they can totally focus on maintaining positive working relationships with the unionized workforce. They won’t be distracted by other issues such as workplace health and safety, employee benefits, or payroll.
If your company doesn’t have the budget for a separate labor relations team, consider assigning one or two HR professionals to focus on labor relations exclusively. You don’t need a large team, just a few key people who have the skills and knowledge to handle labor relations effectively.
The labor relations team should focus on the following areas:
- Preventing unionization
- Negotiating collective bargaining agreements
- Handling grievances and arbitration proceedings
- Developing policies and procedures that are favorable to labor relations
- Training supervisors and managers in how to deal with unionized employees
Their overarching goal is to maintain positive labor relations in the workplace and break down walls between management and the workforce.
Tip 5: Minimize stress and anxiety in the workplace
Research has shown us time and time again that a happy workforce is a productive one. When employees feel happy, they are less stressed and anxious, which leads to fewer sick days, lower turnover rates, and improved productivity.
In terms of labor relations, improving the workplace demonstrates to your employees that you are invested in their well-being and want to do what you can to make their job a positive experience. There are many ways to reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace, such as:
Offering flexible work arrangements
In 2022, many businesses are moving to incorporate flextime into their workplace policies. Flextime allows employees to work a set number of hours within a certain range of time, either starting early or working late, in order to accommodate their personal needs.
You can also offer work-from-home or hybrid work arrangements, which are becoming increasingly popular. These arrangements allow employees to complete a certain number of their hours outside the office, whether it’s working from home one day a week or taking work home with them on occasion.
Offering flexible work arrangements sends the message to employees that you value their time and want to help them find a work/life balance. It also helps to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with commuting and the traditional workforce structure.
Creating a positive work culture
A positive work culture is key to minimizing stress and anxiety in the workplace. When employees feel like they are part of a team and that their work matters, they are less likely to feel stressed or anxious.
Creating a positive work culture can be as simple as having regular team meetings, recognizing employees for their contributions, and providing opportunities for employees to socialize outside of work.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider conducting a workplace survey to get feedback from your employees about what would make them feel more engaged and connected to their work.
Offering training and development opportunities
Employees who feel like they are constantly learning and growing are less likely to feel stressed or anxious. Offering training and development opportunities shows employees that you care about their career growth and want to help them reach their professional goals.
Training and development opportunities can include everything from online courses to on-the-job training. Employees will appreciate the opportunity to learn new skills and expand their knowledge, which will make them feel more valued and engaged in their work.
Providing healthcare and benefits
Show your employees that they are valued by providing them with quality healthcare and benefits. Healthcare and benefits packages vary from company to company, but can include anything from health insurance to dental coverage to 401k plans.
By providing healthcare and benefits, you are helping your employees secure their financial future and maintain their health. This shows that you care about your employees and want to do what you can to make their lives easier.
Creating a stress-free, anxiety-free workplace is key to maximizing labor relations. By implementing some or all of the tips listed above, you can help your employees feel happier and more productive.
Labor Relations: In Summary
Labor relations aren’t a negotiable issue — they’re a fundamental part of the workplace. As an employer, it’s important to make sure that your policies and procedures reflect this, and that you take steps to maintain good labor relations with your employees.
When labor relations are taken care of using tips such as the ones we’ve outlined in this article, your employees will feel appreciated and respected. This, in turn, can help to boost morale and increase productivity.
Remember: happy, productive employees are the key to a successful business!