What does working in employee relations entail?
- changes to workforce planning
- employment contracts
- terms and conditions of employment
- managing employee participation in management decisions
- dealing with conflict and grievance resolution
- trade unions
- collective bargaining and health and safety/employee wellbeing
Previously known as Industrial Relations, Employee Relations (or ER) can mean different things to different people. Traditionally associated with public-sector organisations as they are more likely to have relationships with trade unions, the ER Specialist will act as a bridge between the organisation and the employee though the consultation process. While trade unions are less common in the private sector, they do exist in retail, transport and banking. Even without trade unions, all organisations will require some form of dispute mediation with conflict and grievance resolution, including managing the redundancy process.
Employee Relations is not only about dealing with problems when they occur, it also involves managing employee relationships to achieve a better dynamic across the organisation. Employee Relations can help to achieve a better performance from the workforce through:
- Involvement consultation and gaining buy-in on important business decisions
- Commitment understanding and committing to the objectives of the business as a whole
- Engagement in a combination of both, also known as organisational citizenship.
How do I become an employee relations specialist?
An in-depth knowledge of current UK Employment law and legislation is essential to be an employee relations specialist.
A good ER Specialist should have strong communication skills with the ability to relate to people at all levels. You should have the ability to approach each scenario from all perspectives the needs of the business as a whole versus the needs of the individual and be able to empathise with both sides.
This specialism is arguably best suited to HR practitioners with a positive approach who will be less likely to adopt a defensive or augmentative approach to dispute resolution.