04 May 2023

Strategies for Improving Employee Relations

The relationship HR and management have with employees is fundamental to the success of any business. Leadership is often faced with finding innovative ways to improve employee relations and boost morale. It can be a difficult task, especially in our current climate of increasing healthcare costs, rising inflation, and decreasing 401(k) portfolios.

Since negative relationships can dramatically impact performance and lead to burnout, finding ways to improve employee relations and overall morale at your organization is essential.

To help, here are five strategies for improving the time workers have on the clock at your company and their impression of leadership.

1. Increase the Ratio of Positive vs. Negative Feedback.

It’s common for feedback to be offered in performance reviews or when a mistake has been made. While constructive criticism is important, only pointing out the mistakes does not achieve strong results in improving morale and relations. People typically perform better when their efforts are acknowledged with positive reinforcement. If people feel like only their mistakes are noticed, they’ll focus on avoiding mistakes instead of putting their energy into performance goals.

Instead of holding performance reviews annually or bi-annually, create a culture of continuous feedback at your company where employees are coached as they go. This will allow workers to make small adjustments that lead to bigger gains and keep them informed of their performance. This strategy also allows for more instances of positive encouragement. Positive feedback doesn’t need to be large pats on the back, either. A simple “thank you” or “nice work” is often all somebody needs to hear to feel acknowledged and appreciated.

2. Create Employee Goals with Employees Instead of Handing Them Down.

HR and management can simultaneously improve employee relations and level up performance review strategies by making performance evaluations collaborative.

When reviews and evaluations are conversational, goals can be discussed and mutually agreed upon as employees feel safe to offer their input on the role. Performance goals should be clear, measurable, and attainable and include short-term and long-term targets.

Performance reviews and one-on-ones are ideal opportunities to discuss goals and create a mutually agreed-upon plan for continuous improvement. By including workers in the process, they will be genuine performance targets and not perfunctory metrics to achieve. As such, your team members will be more likely to be invested in their goals and eager to meet them. When goals are met, they will be more meaningful.

3. Offer Career Development.

During performance reviews and coaching sessions, take time to inquire about an individual’s ultimate career plans. By learning about their aspirations, you can help them grow in their careers, develop their talents, and potentially transition into other roles at the company.

By taking the time to meet with people and by communicating opportunities at your company, you create a path for growth and development and can increase productivity and reinvigorate the motivation they had when they started on day one.

4. Promote Healthy Work-life Balance.

When an employee’s work-life balance is tipping the scales in the wrong direction, a negative impression of the office space will likely form, ultimately followed by burnout. Preventing this is essential to maintaining positive relationships with your team.

When any given employee signed their offer letter, they were likely full of energy. This excitement typically fades over time. The adage tells us that “a new broom sweeps clean,” but at some point, that broom isn’t new anymore. Then what happens?

While it’s easy to buy a new broom at any hardware store, getting a quality employee isn’t always so easy. Instead of replacing team members, help them succeed by encouraging a healthy work-life balance.

There are many ways to boost employee morale at your business and promote a healthy work-life balance. One tactic is to offer unlimited PTO. Providing unlimited PTO will not only soften the return to work it can reduce the competition among colleagues that leads to burnout.

A drawback of unlimited PTO benefits is not taking time away can become a competition among co-workers to see who is the most dedicated. When in fact, it’s been shown that taking days off increases productivity and prevents burnout. By requiring a minimum number of vacation days to be taken annually, you eliminate competition and give employees the time needed to recharge, increasing productivity and work-life balance.

5. Find Out What Really Matters to Them.

Along with trying tips to boost employee morale, such as holding “No Meeting Days” or offering virtual meditation classes, you can improve team relations by communicating with them about their needs and ensuring they get the benefits they want in 2023.

The pandemic shutdown resulted in a “new normal” of remote work and hybrid work schedules, but as more companies mandate a return to the office, CEOs are receiving pushback from workers who want to keep things how they are. If you’re looking for ways to soften a return to work or searching for ways to get employees back in the office communicating the reasoning behind the decision is just as important as understanding why your employees want to remain working from home.

Remote work allowed more parents to join the workforce because they no longer needed to pay high childcare costs. It also meant long, stressful commutes were eliminated, and people could spend more time at home with their families or enjoy personal time. As you look for ways to reinvigorate your team, bring them back to the office, and improve morale, offering the benefits they care about will go a long way.

In the end, it comes down to communication. Communicating more with consistent coaching, positive reinforcement, and setting mutually agreed-upon goals will help workers at your company feel appreciated and heard and that there is a long-term path forward in their greater career aspirations.