Roberta King is an accomplished HR professional with 10 years’ experience. Focused predominantly on Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Employee Relations and Strategic Project Management within small, medium and corporate organizations. She is currently a Senior Consultant. With a passion for mitigating the impact of job loss for South Africans, she has run several outplacement programmes that support staff, encourage entrepreneurial development, and empower them for the future world of work.
As a business owner, planning and forecasting your business strategy will involve monitoring and measuring all aspects of your value chain monthly. From your bottom line, to return on investment, sales revenue and ultimately your customer satisfaction and even employee relation metrics.
How well versed are you however, on the importance of maintaining strong employee relations policies? How can this contribute to your value chain; and will the manner in which you implement, monitor and measure this contribute to your success as a business?
Employee relations simply put, is the lifeblood of engaged and productive employees. Maintaining positive, constructive relationships with employees will lead to a quantitative and qualitative increase in employee performance and in turn, maximum impact business results.
To maintain positive employee relations, an organization must first view employees as stakeholders and contributors in the company rather than simply as staff. This perspective encourages those in management roles to seek employee feedback, to value their input more highly, and to consider the employee experience when making decisions that affect the entire company.
A Good Starting Point is Culture
- Adopt a Conducive Workplace Culture. Articulate the desired culture and values of the organization in your employee value proposition. This is an integral factor in attracting and retaining key talent, as well as ensuring that your brand’s vision is executed by individuals with the same values and behaviors.
- Involve the Team. Keep in mind that employees want to feel part of something bigger. Involve them in decision-making processes and allow them to be innovative in their thinking. Encourage effective communication among team members and avoid silo mentality thinking. High performance teaming places value on team collaboration, underpinned by strong leadership and transparent communication.
- Build a Strong Employee Relations Strategy and Plan: Having an HR plan in place as a road map to positive employee relations is a key factor in your success. Building a strong employee relations strategy, leveraged by policies and procedures, involves creating an environment that delivers what people want. Employees want to feel good about what they do and where they work.
How do I measure these aspects of HR?
There are numerous metrics to assist you in measuring the effectiveness of the employee relations in your organization. In the past, HR value add was measured on transactional and service-orientated metrics; but today’s world requires organizational transformation.
Focusing on trends, root causes, and potential red flags will allow you to gain a full understanding of employee behaviors and implement transformational change. It is important to remember that metrics are only truly useful when they provide a basis for analysis on which to improve decision making; without a lead to action, it is not worth the time taken to evaluate the data.
1. Employee Engagement metrics
It is necessary to assess the degree to which your employees are committed to your organization, and the level at which they contribute their skills and knowledge to the larger goals.
Surveys to measure employee engagement
Surveys are the most common tool for evaluating employee engagement, however this method does come with challenges. Participation levels, if too low, will render the survey data redundant. If you do choose to conduct an employee engagement survey, place emphasis on
- Assessing leadership,
- The effectiveness of training and development,
- Promotional and growth opportunities,
- Employees’ motivation levels,
- Employees’ wellbeing
- Value alignment to the organization.
You may also wish to conduct a climate survey to quantify the culture of your organization; or utilize a Business Needs Scorecard to look at the current versus desired values displayed by leadership.
Lastly, an effective way to gauge how likely an employee is to recommend the organization as a place to work is by calculating a Net Promoter Score which adds up promoters and detractors from a set of survey questions.
A common mistake that should be avoided is taking survey data and neglecting the next step. Employees not only want to have their voices heard; they also want to be reassured that solutions will be explored for leadership.
It is worth sending out a post-survey communique to unpack the results with your employees and highlight what actions will be taken to address the controllable issues leading to disengagement or low motivation levels.
2. Employee Relations Incidents
At face value, the traditional metrics for employee relations incidents are not terribly useful – the number of grievances, time to resolution, and cases that lead to litigation.
At the end of the day, engagement-type metrics are more useful because they reflect the impact of employee relations strategies adopted by the organization, rather than attempting to measure the very specific activities that labor relations typically handles.
Take time to analyze the data as there are nuggets that can be pulled out to that create a bigger picture. Look at the prevalence of incidents or grievances, the underlying root cause for the cases, trends in the management level of occurrences and who is involved, and reason why cases end in litigation.
This information will provide you with a good understanding of the culture and dominant behaviors driving your employee landscape. In addition, examining root causes for gender, race or age discrimination will provide a glimpse into whether your diversity policies and strategy are effective or not.
3. Retention and Turnover
A useful metric is based on turnover. If you can differentiate between positive and negative turnover both voluntary and involuntary, it can be a useful indicator of whether managers are doing their jobs by managing problem performers.
It shouldn’t be surprising that gleaning significant trends and sentiments on employee turnover can be key in retaining staff. One of the most important times to collect and assess this information is from employees who stay after the precarious first year of employment.
If you do this, you can avoid employee relations pitfalls and may evade many of the costs associated with recurring hiring and onboarding. Often it is too late once an employee has decided to leave an organization, however the exit interview is a valuable resource to analyze what the underlying reasons are for employees leaving.
Does length of service have an impact or are external factors at play? Perhaps the compensation package is no longer competitive. These are important questions to ask that will inform your employee value proposition, and retention strategies.
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