Positive employee relations are the heart of the many programs and processes that the HR function must juggle. Whether in a union or non-union setting, when all the pieces come together, the result is a climate where employee relations are positive. Having a plan and building relationships with your staff are the key to ensuring that you have positive employee relations.
DO YOU HAVE A PLAN?
Would you plan your business operations without a sound budget and financial plan? Of course not. The same question can be asked of another important asset: your people. Having a plan to achieve positive employee relations is as important as having a financial plan. The following steps will help you to develop a basic HR plan for positive employee relations.
Identify your business needs and how they translate into the people side of your business. For example, if you promise your guests the best service experience when they visit your establishment, you must hire service-oriented people and train them to provide the best service. How do your people deliver your brand promise?
- Recruiting: Based on your business needs, develop screening questions to select people that believe in what you are trying to achieve and who will deliver on your brand.
- Training: Make sure you have a plan to ensure that your staff have all the know-how they need, empowering them to serve your guests.
- Feedback: Staff need to know how they are performing, so make sure you observe them and give them feedback and coaching where required.
- Leadership: What kind of workplace environment are you trying to create as a leader? Is it a culture of passion, energy, fun and teamwork? As a leader you need to set the tone by example.
- Rewards & Recognition: When your team reaches a significant milestone, do you celebrate? Set team goals and then celebrate your successes as a team. Doing so rewards and recognizes your staff for their efforts and contributions.
- Communication: The final part of the HR plan is to ensure you are keeping people in the loop, involving them, sharing your challenges and making them a part of the solution.
EMPLOYEE RELATIONS IN A UNION ENVIRONMENT
When there is a union in place, the above steps in the HR plan still apply; however, you now have to involve this third party. In a union environment, the following steps will help you get the union on board and help create a positive employee-relations environment:
- Goals: Develop mutual goals with the union executive. They are striving for positive employee relations for their members and so are you for your staff. If you have a common goal, you are working together as opposed to against each other.
- Walk a mile in their shoes: It is important that both parties cooperate and work toward mutually beneficial solutions. As an employer and business owner, you must understand what the union is trying to accomplish for its members. Put yourself in their shoes. Ask them what they are trying to achieve, so you understand their side and how it relates to what you are trying to do.
- Explain your needs: You must explain to the union’s designated representatives what you need from them and your staff, so that your business can meet its objectives. If your business is successful and employees are happy, odds are the union will also be happy.
- Know the contract: In a union environment, the rules are all in the collective agreement. Take the time to read the agreement, understand it fully, and make sure you are following any steps and processes that are in the contract. Doing so will assist in creating positive relations with the union that will trickle down to your staff.
NON-UNION EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
Non-union employee relations require the same steps, but they do not involve dealing with a third party. While the goals and steps in the HR plan remain the same, there is slightly more flexibility in a non-union environment. The key to positive employee relations is to:
- listen: Be an employer who listens to the staff. What do they need, and what are they telling you?
- be balanced: Understand what your emploees need, and balance it with your needs as a business owner.
- have a plan: Do not expect that the people side of your business will just come together on its own. Follow the steps in the plan above and harness the power of your people.
Having an HR plan in place as a road map to positive employee relations is a key factor in your success. While there are many relationships you must manage as a business owner, putting the employee relationship at the top of the list will allow you to create a competitive advantage for you and them. It is your people who deliver your brand promise, so you need to make sure you have a plan in place for how that happens. At times, getting the entire team to pull in the same direction can be a challenge, and it does take time. Business owners who invest the time in planning and learning how to create positive employee relations are the ones who are seeing the payoff through higher productivity, lower turnover, better guest feedback and, most of all, stronger bottom line success. Do you have a plan?