The pandemic has had an impact on employee relations in so many ways - the challenges of remote working and the serious nature of conversations such as pay cuts, job losses and furlough. On top of that, we are concerned about employee well-being and team cohesion with so much going on in our own personal lives at the same time.
Early in 2020, all of this was unimaginable for most of us.
The relationship between employees, their representatives and the organisation is like any long-term relationship - sustaining it takes effort. It has its ups and downs. It is always valuable to assess but now more so. How do your employees feel and what are their union colleagues hearing and seeing about the state of the working relationship?
We all want to know what is coming next and we want to be able to control it as much as possible. Understanding your employee relations climate will put you and your employees in control of as much of that agenda as possible. It will help you manage change.
An audit needs to be thorough but not overly complicated. It should involve senior leaders, key managers and union representatives/employee representatives. Organisations will differ in what they need but broadly an audit should cover the following key areas:
A review of scope and climate for change
An assessment of the barriers to change
A review of key ER structures and meetings and how they assist managing manage
Talk to those who attend critical meetings to assess behaviours, escalation, effectiveness of problem solving
An analysis of the number and nature of individual and collective cases including grievances, bullying, discrimination and any tribunals to spot trends or hot spots
A review of any trends from your employee assistance programme and well being programmes
A discussion with representatives from your employee networks to ensure you are making progress in the development of an inclusive culture and can spot any blockers
Monitoring of progress or action plans from engagement surveys
In my experience, an audit can have a dramatic impact on how decisions are made, ensure employees are listened to, make planning and implementing change more productive, ensure unions are engaged, and ultimately the business will benefit.