How to Build a Strong and Healthy Employer-Employee Relationship

29 Jun 2022

More productive, more engaged, more loyal… happier employees.

This is what a healthy, mutually respectful employer employee relationship guarantees you.

“Employees have begun looking beyond material offerings and assessing how they feel about the company they work for—and that requires a different approach.” (Harvard Business Review)

Now, suppose you want to build the best employee and employer relationship in your industry. What would it be like?

And this is what this article helps you explore:

  • What’s the anatomy of a strong employer-employee relationship: its 9 common imperatives
  • Why you’ll want to bother building one: the top 8 benefits you’ll reap 

Let’s dive in.

What Is Meant by the Employer/Employee Relationship?

The employer employee relationship is the working connection between the employer/managers and employees.

The way these two parties view and behave toward each other in a work setting.

“Employer-employee relationship refers to the harmonious working relationship between employees and employers in which the employees are allowed to participate in decision making.” (HAL open science)

This relationship starts to form and develop the moment the employee signs his employment contract with your company.

And it’s the main “culprit” for the level of engagement in your company. Something you don’t want to underestimate:

“... companies with highly engaged people outperform firms with the most disengaged folks—by 54% in employee retention, by 89% in customer satisfaction, and by fourfold in revenue growth.” (Harvard Business Review)

The Importance of the Employer-Employee Relationship

For one, managers and employees rely on one another to complete their tasks. To get work done and deliver business outcomes.

If the employer employee relations aren’t healthy enough, you’ll see if reflected in the business revenue itself:

“Employees who are inspired to work produce better and more results. The level of competency of the staff increases because of their drive to become better.” (The Impact of Employer-Employee Relationships on Business Growth)

Secondly, there’s a direct connection between the employer employee relationship and the employee experience and the workplace experience itself. Another factor with a huge impact on business performance and business growth.

Just try a little empathy exercise:

If there’s mutual respect, trust, and empathy in the employer employee relationship, if employees feel more like people and not “employees” in their relations with their superiors, their levels of job satisfaction and commitment rise.

“Employers no longer chant the old mantra “People are our greatest asset.” Instead, they claim “People are our greatest liability.” (Harvard Business Review)

good employee's relationship

Benefits of Good Employee Employer Relationship

When there’s a strong, healthy employee and employer relationship everyone benefits.

It contributes to employees' general sense of personal wellbeing. It creates the perfect context for innovation, risk-taking, commitment to the organization, and self-improvement.

And, since such positive relations motivate and inspire employees to get better at what they do, they have a direct impact on the business growth itself.

But let’s talk about clear benefits that you can reap from building a good employer employee relationship.

Benefits that contribute to and which are great indicators of business growth:

Fewer Workplace Disputes

Conflicts are less likely to arise in a work environment where the employee employer relations are built on trust and mutual respect and the staff works well together.

Increased Productivity

How does this lower rate of conflicts at the workplace reflect businesswise?

It boosts productivity: employees feel more motivated to work together towards a common goal and they perform better at work.

All thanks to the friendly work environment and the meaningful relationships they develop at the workplace.

Higher Engagement Rate

Food for thought:

“Relationships with management are the top factor in employees’ job satisfaction, which in turn is the second most important determinant of employees’ overall wellbeing.” (McKinsey&Company)

And job satisfaction has a direct impact on employees’ level of engagement and commitment to the organizations they’re part of.

This means that a healthy relationship between boss and employee based on mutual trust, good communication, empathy, and encouragement is crucial for a high level of engagement at work.

This will translate into:

  • Employees being willing to “go the extra mile”
  • Employees being able to deliver better on-the-job performance
  • More loyalty to their leaders, to the company

Speaking of which…

Higher Retention Rate

Employees’ loyalty to your company translates into a long-term commitment. Which then translates into lower costs on new searches, recruiting, hiring, and training new employees.

All this by building and encouraging strong employee employer relations.

Easier Work Assignment

A healthy employer employee relationship is one where:

  • The employee trusts, is inspired by and feels comfortable being himself/herself around his employer

  • The employer trust and knows the employee

He knows his/her strong points, his super skills, his weaknesses, and his work style.

Which makes it easier for him to:

  • assign the right tasks to the right people in this team
  • come up with new, perfectly adjusted tasks meant to overcome some of his staff’s weaknesses

This helps employees to discover new strengths they didn’t know they had and makes them feel valued.

It motivates them to do their best and live up to the expectations and the level of trust invested in them.

Quick Understanding Of Problems

Another benefit that you can expect from building good employee employer relations is being able to better identify business problems. And new needs that arise.

How come?

With a day-to-day work relationship built on trust and employee and employer relationship based on good communication, open conversations start more easily. More frequently.

And they give you all those clues and hints you need to detect problems when they’re about to arise.

The quicker you know about them, the faster you can address them.

Workplace Equality

Now, you do agree that we can’t even be talking about strong employee employer relations in the absence of a fair and equal work environment.

Such good relations only come to support workplace equality.

And such an environment makes your employees feel valued and connected to the organization. Which, for you, translates into higher productivity and a higher level of commitment.

Earning Employee Advocacy

A good employer-employee relationship, where employees feel trusted, valued, and able to be themselves, is more likely to turn them into the company’s main advocates.

Empower them and they’ll feel empowered and motivated to promote your organizational culture.

They’ll become your highly valued promotion assets, too.

workplace equality

How to Build a Strong Employer/Employee Relationship

Now you’re probably saying to yourself:

“OK, I see that it’s important to help build a strong employer-employee relationship. I see all the main benefits that the company can “reap” from it. But how do I do that?”

How do you actually build good relationships at work?

Here’s how…

Mutual Respect

It’s not for no reason that “respect” is top of the list: the lack of mutual respect in an employer-employee relationship is the key cause of low retention.

And the reason why your potential employee advocates can easily turn into… saboteurs (or “badvocates”).

RESPECT is not just an Aretha song. It’s also the key ingredient in building good employee employer relations.

And the main factor influencing the level of employee engagement.

Knowing Each Other

Another important step to take in building a strong employee and employer relationship is to get to know each other. Each other’s strengths, stress tolerance levels, weaknesses, differences, and similarities.

It’s what leads to empathy.

It’s what helps the two parties connect better. It’s what helps the employer know how to motivate his employees and how to better communicate feedback.

Be Authentic

Why? Because authentic leadership has a big influence on employee engagement and employees’ level of trust in the organization.

In other words, be authentic and transparent about things. Or “walk the talk”, if you wish.

Otherwise, people will see it.

They’ll see the lack of authenticity in your relation to them if your words and promises aren’t backed by solid actions. Like setting realistic expectations for them, providing them a safe work environment, where their wellbeing is a priority, avoiding micromanagement...

Make sure your actions back up your words if you want to build an employer employee relationship based on trust.

Set Clear Expectations

Being kind means being clear.

Just imagine your employees under constant stress, trying to figure out whether they’re on the right track or not.

That’s anything but a healthy work relationship.
Instead, make sure you take the time (and show the empathy needed for that) to set and even document clear and reasonable expectations from the get-go:

  • Roles and responsibilities for each one of them
  • Clear individual and team objectives
  • Key workflows
  • What internal communication should be like

This way, they have all the clear info at hand to do their best work, take risks, innovate and grow in their roles.

Communicate Openly

Maybe you think this is redundant advice and yet, it wouldn’t have been listed here if it had been the norm in organizations.

“A survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.” (shrm.org)

By communicating openly with your employees, you make them feel like they’re (authentically) involved. That they’re on the same page.

You build trust, motivate them, and relieve some of their concerns.

Embrace Recognition

Employee recognition is another key “ingredient” you’ll want to add to your employee and employer relationship.

It’s what drives productivity, employee retention, morale, energy, and workplace engagement.

And studies have shown it: 83% of employees, out of 23,000, that received recognition for their performances at work, reported a more positive employee experience.

Compared to only 38%, who didn’t get any recognition.

Acknowledge employees for what they do, for who they are. You’ll give them the boost they need to repeat their successful behaviors.

Plus, you’ll create a far more human workplace.

Be Flexible

Why do you want to build a good employee and employer relationship?

To boost employee satisfaction and retention (among other things), right?

Well, you won’t be able to achieve that if you underestimate the importance of a good work/life balance for your employees.

And you can’t help them achieve that balance if you’re not flexible enough regarding time off, remote work, or working hours.

Or flexible enough to be able to adapt to all sorts of emergencies or unplanned situations that might occur.

Show flexibility and be ready to adapt and work with your employees to find the best solutions together.

That’s what will prove to them (“make sure your actions back up your words”, remember?) that you do care about building the best relationship with work.

Be Consistent

This way, you’ll build trust and confidence.

Just think about it: if everyone in the company from entry-level workers to the CEO stays assured that everyone is being held by the same standards and needs to follow the same rules and policies, you build that high level of trust that’s critical in any strong employer-employee relationship.

Provide Adequate Training

Put yourself into the shoes of an employee that just received some new job responsibilities or was assigned to a whole new project.

Without enough (or any) training provided to you beforehand.

And everyone expects you to just… learn on the go. As quick as possible. And to deliver the same results as before, when you didn’t have these new responsibilities.

Can you feel the pressure? Are your self-confidence and level of job satisfaction lowering drastically?

You get the point: you need to provide adequate training to your employees and set them up to succeed.

In short, building strong employee employer relations comes down to being… empathetic. This is what all these steps to take come down to.

Put yourself into the employees’ shoes to see which of your “employer's” actions/words would increase or lower your level of trust in him/her. In the organization itself.

Simpler said than done, it’s true. But the long-term benefits for your company are invaluable.

Topics: Employee well-being, Human resources, Hybrid work model

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