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Employee Relations: How "E.R." Fits the Theme of Employee Relations

Updated on November 23, 2012
ChrisMcDade8 profile image

Christine McDade is a Human Resources professional (PHR & SHRM-CP) with over 18 years in the public sector.

Human Resources professionals are often tasked with assisting employees through conflicts.
Human Resources professionals are often tasked with assisting employees through conflicts. | Source

Friday the 13th in H.R.

When I was an Employee Relations Manager, I discovered that I preferred to take a Friday off versus a Monday for that much desired "three day" weekend. You see, when you work the job of an Employee Relations Manager, you find that everything seems to fall apart on Friday. That employee problem that has been building up all week long seems to explode on Friday morning. The employee who is ready to walk out on the job, or is ready to go fist to cuffs with a coworker, usually finds Friday as the best day to do so. These individuals, in desperate need of some guidance or attention, often wind up in the H.R. Office on a Friday morning. Thus, one can understand my reason for wanting to choose Friday to take as a vacation day. The employee mishaps, coworker relationship friction and the employee meltdown often give any Friday the appearance of "Friday the 13th".

What is Employee Relations?

Simply put, employee relations is just the dealing and communicating with employees. It is a broad term that is used in Human Resources to describe the management of employees in an organization. It is also the analysis of the relationship between the supervisor and employee. The interaction with employees on employee matters is generally handled by the manager with the support and guidance of the E.R. Specialist. Human Resources invests in their own E.R. professionals to support the employees and the supervisors to ensure policy compliance, employment laws are respected, and equal treatment of employees is exercised in the organization. While managers are generally the ones to deal with the day to day employee matters, the E.R. professional in the Human Resources Department will counsel and give support on those more complex issues such as grievances, harassment and discrimination investigations and serious disciplinary matters, especially terminations. As these matters are very difficult issues to deal with in the organization, it is most important to have competent E.R. staff to handle the "emergencies" that happen on a regular basis.

Who on Earth Would Want an E.R. Job?

Most kids don't look up at their parents one day during childhood to declare that they want to work in Human Resources when they grow up.  While I never considered myself to be a thrill seeker, the position of an employee relations employee can put you in emergency situations that the "faint at heart" could not handle. You often have an employee who shows up in tears or ready to walk off the job because of an issue with a supervisor or coworker. You might find yourself in the role of peacemaker to keep someone with a hothead from knocking someone's block off, or someone who seriously needs professional help due to some some health issue or substance abuse issue. While E.R. staff do not have to provide all of the answers, they must be able to think on their feet and direct employees to the right place for the answers. The E.R. staff member must encompass a lot of concerns to offer guidance that will steer the employee to a better place or to a solution to his/her concern. Since E.R. staff are dealing with human beings, there is never one day that is exactly like the rest. The realization that such a job will offer some unique challenges and opportunity to make a difference in the workplace, is something that causes some individuals to find such a position somewhat rewarding. A person with good people skills, a firm knowledge base of employment laws that protect employees, and a strong emotional intelligence or strong self worth will come in very handy to an E.R. professional.

Why I Like Employee Relations.

After all mentioned in this hub above, I must admit that I still like being in E.R. In fact, I like that my day is never the same, that I get to work with all sorts of different personalities, and that most employee situations are extraordinarily challenging. I also recognize that I participate in the maintaining of a workplace that believes in zero tolerance for any form of harassment or discrimination in employee matters. While my title has changed from Employee Relations Manager to Director, I still value the contributions of solid Employee Relations in the workplace. So while I still approach Fridays and full moons with caution, I know that a sound foundation of Employee Relations for the employees is absolutely necessary for a successful organization with happier employees.



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