PeopleGoal

Blog·Remote Work

October 12, 2020

How to Maintain Great Employee Relations in the Remote Workplace

Teamwork makes the dreamwork. Learn how to maintain great relationships.

Company culture has shifted to incorporate an increasingly remote workforce. This presents new hurdles for virtual teams ability to work together and so it is up to managers and leaders to encourage positive and genuine working relationships. Considering the elements that constitute good employee relations in the remote workplace, we will establish just how you can look to maintain good relations.

The office environment is being replaced by a digital company culture. As a result, it is paramount that employees aren't forgotten as they become increasingly distant. Tackling employee relations issues is vital for any organization to prosper and realize it's business strategies.

employee relations definition

What are Remote Employee Relations?

Concerned with how employers work together with their employees to create and maintain positive relationships. Maintaining positive employee relationships is key to ensuring a motivated workforce. From the remote angle, HR professionals must find ways to achieve this from a distance.

Any organization that maintains good relations can expect to:

  • Retain a positive image for treating staff well, which can lead to a higher standard of employee applying following any job alert.
  • Implement changes in the business more easily as employees will be more flexible.
  • See higher rates of employee commitment to the organization, therefore increasing the likelihood of meeting company objectives.

The 4 Pillars of Employee Relations

To better understand how you would achieve good employee relations, we can break down its core elements into 4 pillars. Either human resources management or leaders can look to enact these methods, with a remote workplace in mind, to improve their employees' experience of work. By simplifying the approach to maintaining good employee relations into 4 pillars, it will make the task of shifting your office environment to a remote platform much easier.

4 pillars of employee relations

Establish Expectations

With a remote workforce, teams no longer congregate in a physical, communal office space. Consequently, this places additional importance on establishing a means for virtual teams to access and understand company values or keep up to date with changes in company policy.

There is a need for any remote working organization to create an online platform for employees to engage. Informing employees in a clear and precise manner allows them to best understand what is expected of them. When individuals attain a full grasp of what they should be doing, they will feel more enticed to go and carry out the necessary tasks.

With a platform, in which each individual can contribute and access the necessary information, there is a facility to ensure that all employees are able to conduct themselves in a manner that aligns with company values. By allowing all employees to observe the direction and movement of their business, they will develop a greater appreciation for the purpose of their actions. Promoting a more positive company culture.

Recognize and Reward

Having established your company's expectations of employees, it is then important to demonstrate recognition when individuals comply or meet particular demands. Of course, prizes are useful to motivate certain individuals but they also create a vicinity to build a personal connection, whilst reinforcing desired company behaviors.

Whether in the form of instant gratification or as a part of a reward system, the use of rewards in remote teams can motivate individuals and make them feel appreciated and seen. Although rewards shouldn’t be the most important factor in driving employee effort, we can all recognize that they do help. Research such as Salah, 2016 found that there is a significant relationship between rewarding employees and employee performance. This is in part due to the feeling of recognition, which builds greater employee-employer relationships. Therefore, even in a time of remote employees, it is still key to recognize their achievements and reward them fairly. Motivate employees or else you risk employee relations and compliance - every individual needs some inspiration, this is where performance management significantly affects how employees work.

Regular Feedback

One key thing that a physical workspace facilitated, which isn’t available when you have a remote workforce, is continual feedback. When managers and employees interact in an office setting, there is the opportunity for feedback to be given throughout the day, without having to schedule video calls to ask a simple opinion. This means that in the new world of remote work, it is important to try and allow feedback to come freely and simply throughout the working week.

Feedback and social interactions are a key element of building strong employee relations, it is important that this is still able to happen with a remote workforce. This is where digital solutions come in, as they should be utilized to allow for remote teams to still feel as though they're part of a community.

Freedom of Speech

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear - George Orwell

Maintaining good employee relations is more than achievable in a remote work environment. A simple yet effective step that can often be overlooked in attaining this positive environment is enabling employees to share their voice. By promoting a company culture in which any individual feels comfortable to voice their opinions, your remote workforce will be able to better contribute to the progression of your business.

Team members working from home are restricted in their ability to pick up on social cues typically available in face to face meetings. Therefore in any video conference, it must be explained that remote employees can and ought to interject in meetings when they feel necessary. Just as it is encouraged to maintain a recurring feedback loop, there is a need for employers to guarantee a secure space for individuals to be open about their feelings at work.

Since a remote office presents fewer openings for individuals to get involved, there must be a counteractive and overt response from organizations to encourage good employee relations. From a corporate to a personal level, the remote work life presents a variety of opportunities. It is the responsibility of all involved to maintain an open company culture that promotes positive and productive outcomes.

How to tell if you're maintaining good remote employee relations

You might now be thinking to yourself, it's one thing being told how to improve employee relations but how are you supposed to recognize if they're truly making good or not?

The key to maintaining good employee relations is fundamentally enacted through good maintenance. The process of promoting a work environment that recognizes and motivates all team members is continuous. Essentially, to guarantee that you are maintaining good employee relations requires persistent and constant consideration.

When you regularly reflect and compare the actions of your organization against these 4 pillars, this will reveal the extent to which you are maintaining good employee relations. On top of this, HR professionals should be able to decipher the feedback and general sentiment from employees towards the recent endeavors of the business. As more employees work aligns with an organization's strategies, all involved will share improved employee relations.

statistic on application of employee engagement

What is the role of an employee relations manager?

In some circumstances, an organization might find that it can not manage to easily align the standpoints of employees and employers. This is where the introduction of an employee relations manager can benefit a company. Dedicating an individual to develop and strengthen employee relations in the remote workforce can guide teams to collaborate more effectively.

An individual focussed on employee relation will look to establish and promote people practices that can harness and maintain positive working relationships between an organization and its people. Transparency is critical to ensure these practices are fair and representative of a remote team's desires. Acting almost as a liaison between the two camps of an organization, an employee relations manager aspires to settle disputes in an appropriate manner and ensure engagement is maintained.

Activities of an employee relations manager:

  • Creating people policies
  • Ensuring managers act in a way that involves their staff
  • Managing the relationship between an organization and unions or employees bodies
  • Ensuring managers are upskilled to deal with people in a fair and effective manner
  • Overseeing all people practices to ensure they are legally compliant

All in all, it is undeniable that companies that look to maintain good employee relations, especially in the remote workplace, are capable of achieving greater feats than others who do not. The process of engaging and cooperating with employees instead of conflicting with them leads to mutually beneficial results. Taking the additional steps to incorporate factors caused by working remotely is imperative as teams become evermore distributed and separated from the traditional office environment.

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