Effective employee relations help you in multiple ways. They promote productivity and collaboration, reduce turnover rates, and establish great channels of communication. They are a great way of making sure you’re taking care of your employees.

But, where do you start? Who can you learn from?

What Is Employee Relations (and Why Should I Care)?

In simple terms, employee relations are an organization’s effort to have and maintain positive relationships with its employees. This is typically managed by the company’s HR department, which helps create some of these positive relationships by handling conflict resolution and developing employee engagement.

Employee relations is an extremely important aspect of employee management.


Because happy employees are productive employees!

Good employee relations increase productivity, engagement, and loyalty in the workforce, reducing turnover by giving employees a better work-life balance, a healthy environment and better growth possibilities.

That’s why multiple companies have a dedicated employee relations manager. This manager acts as the intermediary between employees and managers to promote a healthy relationship between them. That way, this manager can be in touch with the employees’ needs, helping create and enforce new policies and programs to benefit them.

These can be better schedules, more complete training, employee benefits and fair compensation to name a few.

Employee Relations Issues: 8 Examples and How to Cope With Them

These are the ten most common employee relations issues and how to fix them with good employee relations practices:

1. Low wages

It’s very common for employers to struggle to pay top wages. After all, the main purpose of a company is to generate as much revenue as possible.

However, low wages can have terrible effects on employees, and, without a clear way of making more money, employees can feel stressed and morale can drop. This can be aggravated when it becomes unclear why some employees get a raise and some don’t.

Solution: Clear pay raises structure

To establish good employee relations, a company must have a very clear structure of how and when an employee can get a pay raise. To achieve this, every company needs to identify and reward the most important aspects of an employee’s job, have a clear timeline of when the employee can ask for a pay raise and what’s needed from the employee to get it.

That way, an employee has a clear career path and is in a level playing field with the rest of the workforce.

2. Attendance and punctuality issues

If your employees have a fixed schedule, you may encounter issues with attendance and punctuality. Sometimes, an emergency, an accident or their own personal lives may ruin their perfect attendance, and that’s understandable.

The issue, however, comes when their lack of attendance and punctuality becomes a regular occurrence. They may arrive late simply because they can ask someone to punch in for them or because they know there’ll be no real consequences. This, in turn, affects your company’s productivity and reliability.

Solution: Clear policies and communication

These types of common issues can be resolved with a good communication relationship with your employees. They should be able to contact the business in case of any impending attendance issues to quickly reach a resolution. In turn, you should also have clear attendance and tardiness policies in place for them to follow.

3. Conflicts between employees

When working with multiple people, conflict is bound to happen. People will have different points of view and frictions will be caused by them. The way you handle these conflicts will be key for your employees’ satisfaction and your company’s success.

Solution: Clear management processes

Since you know conflict is inevitable, you should be prepared for it. Don’t wait for conflict to shed light on an issue. Instead, avoid conflict by having clear guidelines in your employee’s handbook.

Once conflict arises, have a neutral party mediate between the employees and reach for a solution that’s based on your guidelines and your company’s values.

Finally, write it up. Every conflict’s reason should be analyzed to find out ways to prevent it from happening again.

4. High turnover

Keeping employees is cheaper than hiring new ones. In a company with high turnover rates there are losses of productivity accompanied and higher training costs.

Although it’s not always easy to find out why employees leave, The effort is definitely worth it and can tremendously impact a company’s costs.

Solution: Engagement strategies

Although HR is usually responsible for hiring talent, the people relationship manager is responsible for keeping them. This can be achieved through the development of engagement techniques, like the creation of a good company culture, great incentives and competitive benefits.

To improve these strategies, an exit interview must always be conducted upon the resignation of an employee to find out the reasons they have to resign and what could’ve changed it.

5. Non-Compliance behavior

You may have people who engage in passive-aggressive behavior or outright avoid doing their job directly. There can be several reasons why this can happen, from bad employee relations to simple laziness. Dealing with these actions can pose a serious challenge for the company and establishes a precedent with the rest of the employees, so it’s important to get it right the first time.

Solution: Clear rules and consequences

Part of establishing good employee relations is determining how your company would act towards employees in hard situations. That’s why it’s very important to have a clear and handy employee relations policy for these situations, where it determines which steps the company would take against a non-complying employee.

It should promote safety and collaboration between employees as well as a guideline on how to act against non-compliers.

How much tolerance will your company have against them? Which are the steps towards escalating the issue? When would you involve a guard? The answers to these questions must be clearly known within your staff and your HR department.

6. Health & Safety

Health and safety issues can easily arise without detailed guidelines and rules, especially if your company works with dangerous products or machinery. These types of issues can lead to very expensive lawsuits if the company is found to not be in compliance with government regulations or is at fault in any other way.

Solution: Enforceable health and safety policies

The first thing you need to make sure of is your company’s compliance with OSHA or any other relevant government regulations. Make sure that these regulations are enforced by the staff and encourage them to report any case of noncompliance.

If a health and safety incident takes place, make sure detailed documentation of the fact is taken, preferably by using visual evidence and witnesses of what happened.

Finally, make sure to have regular safety training and monitor compliance among your staff.

7. Lack of productivity

Lack of productivity can be caused by a number of reasons, from lack of proper tools to simple unawareness. This can be quite costly for your company and can compromise your product or service reliability.

Solution: Identification, motivation and training

The first thing you need to do is to identify the source of the lack of productivity. Is it coming from a person or a department? Is it a general lack of productivity from the whole staff? You need to make sure that the cause of productivity is originated from the staff and not from any external factors.

Once you identify the reasons, your Employee Relations Manager can rectify them. This can go from simple motivation techniques to proper training or problem resolution. With a proper study of the matter, you can quickly identify and rectify any issue by keeping your staff engaged and productive.

8. Discrimination

Unfortunately, discrimination is still a common employee relation issue. If it goes unresolved, not only can it result in costly lawsuits but on a loss of good public faith for your brand.

Solution: Employee inclusion

Your company should not tolerate any sort of discrimination towards another employee. This goes from obvious shunning to simple jokes, even if they aren’t directed towards anyone in particular. Create a clear inclusion policy, listen to any discrimination complaints and promote an environment where people are evaluated exclusively by their job performance.

It’s often better to remove an employee that refuses to comply with these inclusion policies than to tolerate their behavior, regardless of their rank or job performance.

These 7 companies are famous for their employee relations. Here are the reasons why and how you can apply them to your company:

1. Google - Healthy culture

Google is a pioneer of good employee relations. The company is famous for its culture and the ways it tries to break barriers and hire the best people to give them full autonomy over their work. At their headquarters, employees can eat multiple types of food for free, play video games, get massages and even sleep.

Learn from them:

Although not every company has the budget to give their employee free massages and sushi every day, you can prioritize the individual. Google has proved that people work better when they’re given autonomy and treated as people instead of numbers.

With a great culture, you’ll not only get more productive employees but attract the best talent as well.

2. FedEx Corporation - Employee feedback

Google is a pioneer of good employee relations. The company is famous for its culture and the ways it tries to break barriers and hire the best people to give them full autonomy over their work. At their headquarters, employees can eat multiple types of food for free, play video games, get massages and even sleep.

Learn from them:

Although not every company has the budget to give their employee free massages and sushi every day, you can prioritize the individual. Google has proved that people work better when they’re given autonomy and treated as people instead of numbers.

With a great culture, you’ll not only get more productive employees but attract the best talent as well.

3. FedEx Corporation - Employee feedback

The Rolls-Royce company isn’t just a symbol of wealth and success to clients, it helps its employees to achieve it too. The company favors high-quality training and apprenticeships. These are so effective that over 30% of the senior managers at Rolls-Royce started as trainees. By making training essential, the company can easily promote from within, hiring managers that already know the company’s practices and philosophy.

Learn from them:

Hiring new employees is more expensive than keeping the ones you have. This also accounts for hiring managers.

If your company gives a lot of importance to quality-training, you will not only be able to promote from within, but your employees will also be more likely to stay for longer, even making a career out of it!

4. Nissan - Productivity

Nissan is famous for successfully taking the best out of Japanese and British working philosophies to develop their own philosophy: kaizen. Kaizen’s philosophy is based on continuous improvement in all areas, from the assembly line to upper management. Employees are hired and evaluated using Kaizen.

This allows for a clear definition of success and rewards productivity above all other areas.

Learn from them:

Just like Nissan, your philosophy should reward productivity in all areas. Make sure to provide your employees with a clear pathway towards success and let your philosophy permeate all areas of your business, from top to bottom.

5. MSL - Hiring process

MSL pioneered a systematic way of hiring the best talent. With panel-based interviews, great advertising and good psychological tests, MSL can assure to get the right person for the right job.

The result? Not only has MSL been studied for psychology and HR purposes, but Fortune named the company as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies in 2013 based on their contribution to the world of human resources.

Learn from them:

Hiring people isn’t just about asking a few questions and hiring based on feelings, there are multiple resources out there to give you the ability to ask the right questions and learn the most amount of information from your prospects to decide who to hire. By assuring you hire the right people for the company, you can increase productivity and retention.

6. Bain and Company - Retention levels

Bain & Company is internationally recognized as one of the best places to work in the world. It has remained part of the top ten of Glassdoor’s best places to work and gained multiple HR-related awards. This makes Bain able to continuously attract and retain top talent.

Their secret? Investing in people. Bain & Company fosters a great work culture that promotes equality and engagement through competitive wages, great policies, amazing training and mentoring, and flexible work schedules. This allows them not only to get the most amount of productivity from their employees, but hire people to stay.

Learn from them:

Just like Bain, your company should help its employees with their work-life balance. You can even directly learn from them by reading the articles they’ve written on investing in people. Make sure your employees have everything they need to succeed and are valued by their contributions. Encourage a community environment where people support each other and make an effort to offer good benefits to them.

7. SAS - Health focus

SAS is another industry leader that consistently ranks among the best places to work for. SAS takes care of its employees’ physical and mental needs by offering gyms and recreational facilities and giving its employees time to use them during working hours. This pioneering way of caring for employees reduces stress and turnover rates and helps employees feel better and more energized throughout the day.

Learn from them:

You may not be able to build gyms for your employees, but you can still find ways to promote physical and mental health. You can organize physical activities during the weekends, promote mindfulness activities during business hours and even partner up with gyms for discounts. These efforts lead not only to healthy employees but to less absenteeism, better working dynamics and increased productivity.


Establishing great employee relations has huge advantages and reduces your company’s costs. All you need to do is to treat your employees like the people they are, making them feel valued and appreciated for the work they do and listening to their concerns.

With great employee relations, you’ll be taking good care of your employees, and they’ll be taking good care of your business.