Employee relations

WorkBuzz helps you gather real-time feedback from your people and use this information to improve employee relations and get better engagement.

What are employee relations?

Employee relations is a term that refers to the various relationships that exist between managers and workers within a commercial organisation. It covers all interactions between employees and employers, both at an individual and collective level. When considering employee relations it is important to include positive and negative aspects, for example a positive workplace culture is likely to be based on employees getting along and being able to work together. However, there are also things like the workplace that can be challenging from an employee relations perspective. Things like disagreements and grievances can have far-reaching negative consequences if they are not dealt with effectively by the employer.





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Why are good employee relations important?

Good employee relations are important for all organisations to maintain whether they are in the public or private sectors. Firstly, if employee relations are poor for whatever reason, then staff may decide they can do better elsewhere and seek employment among competitors. Rank and file staff are more likely to leave when employee relations are bad, which comes with recruitment costs to go alongside training issues among newly employed replacements.


Furthermore, where workforces are unionised, industrial action could follow as a result of poor employee relations. This might involve working to rule, the refusal to undertake overtime or even strike action in the worst cases. Even among workforces which are not particularly unionised, a company’s reputation of being a ‘bad employer’ can develop, something that may take years to get rid of. When competition is so high for talent, maintaining a good employer brand is vital. With this in mind employers should aim to establish a positive workplace culture.


Generally speaking, where good employee relations are maintained, much more positive outcomes can be expected in various areas of a company. For example, places of work that enjoy good employee relations will tend to see fewer people going off sick. There is less workplace stress, too, something that isn’t just good for employees’ mental well-being and better for overall work quality. It is also good for employers because the happier staff are in their work, the more productive they tend to be. Employers that are known as great places to work tend to have lower staff turnover and have an easier time with recruiting new staff too.

In addition, better employee relations tend to develop in more open and inclusive workplaces where everyone feels valued. This is a key reason why staff feedback surveys are so useful in helping to improve employee relations – they get to the heart of the sort of cultural issues that are often overlooked in annual appraisals, team meetings and so on. In short, people feel they can raise such issues in surveys that they might not be so confident to speak about in other forums.

Does greater employee engagement lead to improved employee relations?

The more employees are engaged with what they do on a day to day basis, the better employee relations will tend to be. Of course, for employee relations to be strong, organisations need to ensure that engagement is good across the board. In other words, it cannot just be something that is found in one or two departments while other teams are not sufficiently well engaged.


There again, it is not just a question of which parts of an organisation are most engaged that counts. Attempts should be made to find out more about employee engagement – and, hence, employee relations – among different demographic groups, too. How engaged are men compared to women or older employees compared to younger ones, for example?


By finding out the answers to these sorts of questions, it is possible for senior managers to make better-informed decisions about what to do to improve engagement and make the workplace a more satisfying place to work in. Equally, by better communicating visions and values, by understanding the relationship between rewards and professional recognition and by creating pathways for career progression, so employers are able to gain a more positively engaged workforce. If this is the case, then employee relations within the organisation as a whole should improve.


Conversely, employee relations will falter and often worsen in businesses that don’t invest in understanding their workforce’s opinions fully. Typical signs that employee relations are worsening include the inability to retain staff, greater periods of absence from work and declining productivity. As such, business owners and senior executives need to find ways of better understanding how engaged – or otherwise – their workforce is as a whole. Crucially, asking a few members of staff what they think isn’t enough to achieve a valid picture and all stakeholders need to be allowed to give feedback in the process.

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What can employee surveys tell companies about employee relations?


Employee surveys offer employers a good way to establish exactly what their workforce thinks of them and of the current state of employee relations from the workforce’s perspective. This is especially the case when the feedback offered is anonymous so people can truly express themselves without worrying about the potential outcomes they might trigger. After all, if employee relations are bad, then workers might not feel able to say what they really think unless they can do so in a way that won’t reflect badly on them as an individual.


Even in workplaces where employee relations are good, it is still worth conducting surveys in a way that allows employees to offer anonymous feedback. Without this sort of privacy, employees can feel pressured to ‘say the right thing’ even if there is no downward managerial pressure to do so. Overall, the organisations that enjoy the best employee relations will foster an open and inclusive work culture. Again, it is only by surveying what staff members think that is possible to ascertain just how open a workplace truly is.

How can WorkBuzz help improve employee relations?


Our anonymised employee feedback survey platform is ideal for conducting company-wide surveys and, therefore, improving employee relations. By taking the pulse of your workforce, you will be able to better understand the condition it is in and whether further measures are needed to keep employee relations in good health. The WorkBuzz platform provides numerous ways to gain insightful snapshots into what workforces are thinking at any particular moment in time. Furthermore, with artificial intelligence algorithms at play, it is possible for even very large employers to quantify what their employees are thinking and feeling rapidly, without the need for a lot of external number crunching.

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