Like most business leaders, you or another member of your leadership team has had to deal with employee relations issues.

It could be someone not following your organization’s dress code. Perhaps one of your employees is habitually late to work or is not performing job functions up to organizational expectations. Maybe it is employee insubordination. In some cases, the complication may involve a conflict between employees.

Issues like these are problematic and can certainly affect your company as a whole if left unresolved. However, addressing employee relations problems does not have to be overwhelming for leaders in your company.

The following are five tips from Syndeo, a Wichita-based outsourced human resources provider, to help businesses handle matters of employee relations.

1. Ensure managers and supervisors are appropriately trained and equipped to handle employee relations issues.

Training can be done with the help of an external third party or through internal human resources personnel. Either way, the objective is to empower managers and supervisors to handle day-to-day employee matters independently.

Connor Cross, Director of HR for Syndeo, says training should incorporate an overview of strategies for progressive discipline, which is designed to address issues consistently and work with employees on ways to resolve them. Cross says the supervisory training should also incorporate overviews of employment laws and ways your business can avoid potential legal issues regarding how employee issues are handled.

2. Utilize an employee handbook and clearly defined policies to give your business a framework to set organizational expectations.

Implementing an employee handbook requires more than downloading a generic template. Cross says employee handbooks should be tailored to meet your organization’s needs and treated as a living document that can be modified to ensure it is an accurate reflection of your organization’s actual practices. A strong employee handbook will also outline the policies and procedures for your business and ensure progressive discipline is handled consistently and employment laws are applied correctly.

Additionally, handbooks help employees be familiar with industry-specific policies and regulations.

3. Address employee relations issues in a timely manner.

Letting issues go unresolved for long periods can make matters worse. Do some employees have difficulty getting to work on time or dress in a manner that does not align with your company’s dress code? Cross says to address the issue and do not let employees assume the unwanted behavior is acceptable because nothing is said to address the situation.

4. Handle matters – that do not involve gross misconduct – through coaching and level-setting expectations.

Be willing to demonstrate you are eager to work with your employees to resolve issues. Addressing employee relations matters does not have to be controversial.

“It’s just a conversation,” Cross says. “Managers and supervisors should be clear on how the behavior is not meeting the standards of the business, what the expectations are going forward and how the manager/supervisor can help the employee meet the expectations.”

That can be all it takes in many instances for a behavior correction. Having frank conversations can lead to improved supervisor-employee understanding. Cross says many employee issues can be handled through coaching before the situation gets to a point where progressive discipline is needed.

5. Document. Document. Document.

The importance of proper documentation cannot be understated when dealing with employee relations matters. Even the simplest of employee conversations or coaching sessions should be documented in a personnel file. Include the date and what was discussed.

Create standardized documents as a way to create uniformity throughout your organization, particularly when multiple locations are involved. Cross says standardized documentation gives managers and supervisors helpful talking points to work through with an employee. Standardized documentation can also help protect your organization and mitigate claims of wrongful termination or discrimination.

 

 

About us: As the Heartland’s leading employer services company, Syndeo partners with local business owners to help them minimize risk, improve efficiency and maximize profitability allowing them the freedom to focus on growth and fulfilling their mission. Syndeo fulfills its mission by taking on all of the HR responsibilities for our clients’ workforce, including employee relations, benefits, risk management and payroll.

 Winner of the 2020 and 2021 Best of HR Services Award through ClearlyRated for providing superior client service. See our ClearlyRated profile here.

 

~Josh Heck is Syndeo’s marketing manager. He can be reached at jheck@syndeohro.com or (316) 440-9940.

*Another version of this article first appeared in the July/August edition of The Kansas Banker.