Scott Verrette of Resourceful HR offers us our guest blog post this month on how to create value in employment relationships.  Scott will be one of our guest speakers at the Equinox Focus Event:  Creating Value Through Employer-Employee Relationships on July 28.  Resourceful HR  helps companies grow through increased employee efficiency.  You can also sign up for Resourceful HR’s newsletter here.

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One of the most critical responsibilities of a leader is to cultivate a work environment that promotes a high level of employee morale, mutual trust and active engagement. These qualities set the stage for high productivity, employee retention and customer satisfaction.

Unfortunately, despite your best intentions and active efforts, occasionally you are faced with a situation where you have a disgruntled employee and you find yourself presented with a conflict that requires you to ask, do I address the situation head on or do I wait and hope that it will resolve itself over time?

Just as you must invest time and energy into building and sustaining a healthy relationship with your family and close friends, so too must you be willing to nurture and grow a productive relationship with your employees, especially those that are struggling.

 Causes of Employee Dissatisfaction

There are many possible causes for employee dissatisfaction. The critical task for you as a leader is to quickly spot a potential problem and to accurately diagnose the situation and get to the root underlying cause(s), which may include:

–  Personal issues – In some circumstances the employee’s poor attitude has little to do with the workplace and, instead, the employee is distracted by financial worries, health concerns or possibly personal issues such as depression or anxiety.

–  Family problems – Other times the cause can be related to problems at home, e.g. relationship issues, disagreements with parents, siblings, relatives, or problems with children.

–  Stressed interpersonal relationships in the workplace – Unfortunately, a vast majority of the time the cause is due to personal conflicts between an employee and their boss or fellow co-workers.

 Symptoms and Potential Ramifications of Not Taking Action

To be successful in managing these types of conflicts, you must be vigilant about noticing the early warning signs of employee discontent and investigate the situation promptly. Failure to intervene can quickly lead to the following negative ramifications:

–  Poor attendance and timeliness – Discontented employees often become unreliable in their job performance, which can damage trust with co-workers and customers.

–  Low level of personal engagement – Both your immediate department and the company at large are unable to fully capitalize on the skills, talents and ideas of a discontented employee.

–  Abrasive interactions with others – Angry, short-tempered, uncooperative interactions quickly shut down lines of communication that are critical to the effective functioning of the department and the overall organization.

–  Increased employee turnover – There is abundant research verifying that the single most prevalent reason for employee turnover is poor interpersonal relationships in the workplace, especially with management.

The Payoff for Maintaining Healthy Employee Relationships

There are many benefits, both tangible and intangible, to be realized by maintaining healthy employer-employee relationship including:

–  Positive attitudes are contagious – When you are able to build and sustain an open, engaged relationship with employees the benefits are exponential since the positive, enthusiastic attitudes of even one employee can influence others in a positive manner.

–  Enhanced capacity to weather difficult times and stress – Employees who feel secure and invested in their work and the organization are much more resilient and able to ride the occasional waves of uncertainty and change that buffet all companies.

–  Increased bench strength – Building a cadre of employees who have positive interactions with management helps to build a healthy pool of potential new leaders who possess the types of aptitudes needed to maintain an engaged workforce.

–  Happier internal and external customers – Most employees are neither interested nor skilled at hiding their emotions when interacting with others in the course of performing their job. By maintaining a positive, engaged workforce you enhance the positive perception of both your department and your company as entities with which it is pleasant to do business.

–  Enhanced goodwill and a forgiving attitude when mistakes are made – When you cultivate a work environment that exhibits a caring attitude, that values the unique contributions of each employee and that looks for solutions rather than someone to blame when problems occur you help to create a generosity of spirit that extends to interactions with others when difficult issues arise.

Underlying all of the positive attributes and benefits of creating and maintaining good employer-employee relations is the promise of increased productivity and profitability. With very little monetary expense and a moderate investment of your time and energy you can realize positive returns that will continue to pay dividends well into the future.

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