Handling employee relations issues correctly is absolutely essential for creating a successful company. Never forget: Your employees are a top asset, but if you botch your relationships with them, you could create a work environment with low morale and little productivity. Needless to say, this isn’t good for business.
So, what are some of the ways companies screw up employee relations?
1. Playing favorites. Favoritism shouldn’t exist in the workplace. When you constantly give opportunities only to your favorite employees or apply the rules only to certain employees, you’re going to create a work environment that’s filled with jealousy and resentment. All employees should be treated equally.
2. Taking sides in employee disputes. This usually goes hand in hand with favoritism. You should never jump to conclusions nor take sides when two or more employees have a dispute. Always look at the facts, and make decisions based on company rules and regulations.
3. Not giving employees clear performance expectations. If employees don’t know what’s expected of them, how can you expect them to succeed? You need to have clearly defined standards, and employee performance should be measured against those.
4. Not giving employees a forum for voicing suggestions. You want your employees to feel like they’re valued members of your company. That’s why you need to encourage them to make suggestions for improving the company or the way their job is handled. When you get good suggestions, make sure you actually do something with them. Talk is cheap; implementing the good ideas is what counts.
5. Hiding the bigger picture from employees. Employees that find some sort of deeper meaning in their work are likelier to take an interest in doing a good job and being proud of what they do. Let your employees know what the company’s goals are and how their performance plays into that.
6. Knee-jerk reactions to disputes. Before you react to a situation based on your emotions, take some time to calm down and evaluate the situation rationally. This could save you from doing something stupid like firing a good employee or alienating a worker by overreacting to a simple mistake.
7. Lack of communication with employees. Just like every other relationship in your life, communication is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship with your employees. Be present. Be easy to contact. And take the time to get to know your employees by speaking with them regularly.
8. Ignoring the law. Too many companies forget that there are laws governing how you can interact with and treat your employees. Before you take any action—such as firing an employee—you need to make sure there are no laws prohibiting your actions.
9. Not trusting your employees. You can’t create a positive work environment if you treat employees as though they’re untrustworthy. If you’re constantly over their shoulders, monitoring their every move, tracking their actions, and questioning them, you’re going to produce a lot of bitter employees.
10. Never rewarding or thanking employees for their hard work. Your employees work hard for you. They’re helping your company succeed, and without them, you’d be out of business. Showing your appreciation for their hard work can go a long way to keeping them happy and motivated. Check out these 10 ways to reward your employees.
Surely, there are other big employee relations mistakes worthy of making this list. Share your favorites below.
Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel. This article first appeared on Ragan.com in September 2011.