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Not Getting Employee Relations Right? Here’s What To Do

Are your employees showing signs of low engagement and unhappiness at work, despite your efforts to build strong employee relations? Do you sense a disconnect between leadership and staff, with trust issues arising? If your current strategy isn’t moving the needle on employee satisfaction, it can leave you feeling discouraged. But there are proven steps you can take to diagnose issues and refresh your approach to get employee relations back on a positive footing.

According to Gallup’s 2024 State of the Global Workplace report, only 21% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. The remaining 79% of workers feel indifferent or actively disengaged day-to-day. This data shows most organizations grapple with suboptimal employee relations. The good news is, that by taking proactive measures to understand and respond to employee feedback, you can cultivate a thriving culture.

Let’s dive in to learn what to do if your employee relations in not getting right.

What to Do If Your Employee Relations Strategy Isn’t Working?

Employee relations are a vital part of human resources management. A good employee relations strategy promotes engagement, satisfaction, and productivity. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may find your strategy isn’t having the impact you hoped for. If this happens, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to get your employee relations back on track.

1. Diagnosing the Issues with Your Employee Relations

The first step to fixing your employee relations is to diagnose why your current strategy is not having the desired impact. You need to get to the root of what’s broken before you can fix it. Analyze different factors to understand where the disconnect lies:

Examine Communication Breakdowns

Look at how often and how effectively you are communicating with employees. Poor communication is one of the biggest contributors to poor employee relations.

  • Are you providing regular updates on company news and changes?
  • Do you actively listen and respond to employee concerns?
  • Can employees easily approach leadership with questions and feedback?

If communication is inadequate, employees will feel disconnected and disengaged. Improve communication channels through more frequent meetings, open door policies, anonymous surveys, etc.

Evaluate Issues of Trust

A lack of trust between employees and leadership is poisonous to engagement.

  • Do employees feel leadership has their best interests in mind?
  • Does leadership follow through reliably on promises and commitments?
  • Do employees feel respected and valued?

Build trust through transparency, exhibiting you care about employees’ wellbeing, and matching words with actions.

Review Policies Impacting Employee Happiness

Take an honest look at your policies around compensation, benefits, time off, work conditions and perks. If these are misaligned with employee expectations, unhappiness will brew. Be open to updating policies to create a more attractive employee value proposition.

Assess Your Organizational Culture

A negative culture will sabotage even the best employee relations strategies. Are your stated values reflected in everyday operations? Is the environment positive and supportive? Make improvements to align culture with values.

By diagnosing these key areas, you’ll gain insight into issues causing your strategy to flounder.

2. Gather Employee Feedback to Improve Relations

Once you’ve diagnosed potential issues, an essential next step is to gather direct employee feedback. Don’t make assumptions – go straight to your employees to get their authentic perspective.

There are several effective ways to collect insightful employee feedback:

  • Anonymous surveys: Online surveys give employees a risk-free way to share their honest opinions and ideas. Ask specific questions to dig into areas of concern.
  • Focus groups: Bring together employees from different departments and levels for moderated discussions. This provides qualitative insights into prevailing sentiments.
  • One-on-one meetings: Schedule time with individual employees to have candid conversations about their experiences and grievances. Assure them conversations are confidential.
  • Suggestion boxes: Allow employees to submit anonymous feedback through physical or digital suggestion boxes. Monitor these regularly.
  • Employee advisory councils: Create a council of employees who meet regularly with leadership to share observations and solutions.
  • Stay interview questions: Incorporate simple feedback questions into regular check-ins with employees.

The goal is to create open channels for two-way communication. Employees want their voices heard. Demonstrating you act on their feedback will in turn improve employee relations and trust.

3. Refresh Your Strategy Based on Feedback

Armed with insights from your diagnosis and employee feedback, you can now refresh your employee relations approach. Identify priority areas to update your strategy and focus attention on making positive changes.

Some initiatives to consider:

  • Improve communication channels: Ensure communication flows both ways. Share more company information. Create more touchpoints between leadership and staff.
  • Update policies and benefits: Make adjustments based on employee desires around compensation, healthcare, vacation time, remote work options, etc.
  • Realign culture: Clarify or revise company values. Foster positivity through team-building activities. Celebrate employee milestones.
  • Invest in leadership training: If management issues are identified, implement coaching on communication, conflict resolution and people management.
  • Develop recognition programs: Look for ways to provide ongoing appreciation and recognition of employees’ contributions.
  • Create feedback loops: Establish regular pulse surveys, town halls, and advisory groups for continuous employee voice.

Refreshing your strategy shows employees you genuinely listened to their feedback. They will feel valued knowing their input spurred positive changes, improving your employee relations.

4. Implement and Monitor Your Updated Employee Relations Strategy

Once you’ve refreshed your strategy, it’s time to roll it out and monitor results.

  • Communicate the changes: Inform employees about strategy updates, emphasizing these steps were taken to directly address their feedback.
  • Provide training: Equip managers with training to properly implement any new initiatives like recognition programs, revised policies, etc.
  • Measure progress: Continue gathering employee feedback through surveys, meetings, and suggestion boxes. Assess engagement levels.
  • Make iterative adjustments: View your strategy as a living document. Make ongoing tweaks based on feedback to meet evolving needs.
  • Celebrate wins: When you see positive metrics or hear good feedback, share stories and celebrate successes with employees.
  • Be patient: Recognizing substantially improving employee relations takes time. Stay committed even if you don’t see the immediate transformation.

By taking an adaptable approach to your updated strategy, and relentlessly focusing on the employee experience, you will get your employee relations back on track. The investment will pay dividends in the form of a thriving, engaged workforce and collaborative culture.


Reviving struggling employee relations takes time and commitment, but pays immense dividends. When employees feel engaged, productive and happy at work, your entire organization thrives. By taking proactive steps to diagnose issues through feedback and reassessing your strategy, you can get relations back on track.

Show employees you genuinely listened by communicating changes made based on their input. Invest time in providing proper training and education on new initiatives. Measure progress through regular pulse checks, and keep enhancing the strategy based on evolving needs. Celebrate wins with employees when you see positive movement. Although turnarounds won’t happen overnight, your dedication will be noticed. Keep your focus on the employee experience. With a thoughtful, adaptable approach, you can build an open, thriving culture and unlock your team’s full potential. Don’t wait to take action – improved employee relations are within reach!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I tell if my employee relations strategy is failing?

Signs may include low engagement, high turnover, poor communication, distrust, negative company culture, and policy complaints.

What are some ways to get employee feedback on relations issues?

Anonymous surveys, focus groups, one-on-one meetings, suggestion boxes, and employee advisory councils.

How long does it take to see improvements after changing our strategy?

Don’t expect an immediate turnaround. Changing culture takes consistent effort, communication and monitoring over months.

What are some key areas we should evaluate in diagnosing issues?

Communication effectiveness, trust in leadership, happiness with policies, alignment of culture with values.

Should we update policies based on employee feedback?

Yes, be open to adjusting policies around pay, benefits, and flexibility if misaligned with employee expectations.

How can we show employees we value their feedback?

Communicate changes made based on their input. Celebrate wins and progress. Close the loop with ongoing pulse checks.

What are some initiatives to improve poor employee relations?

Improved communication, realigned culture and values, updated policies, recognition programs, and leadership training.

How can I monitor progress after updating our strategy?

Regular employee surveys, meetings, and suggestion tracking. Assess engagement metrics over time.

What is the most important focus area for improving relations?

Prioritizing the employee experience through open communication, trust building and receptive leadership.

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