January 2022
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TD Magazine

Leadership Includes Managing Employee Relations

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Not all people managers have the skills to address employee issues but should.

Addressing employee issues is part of the job for people leaders, but they may not be trained for it. For The People Leaders and the Gap in Managing Employee Issues report, HR Acuity surveyed almost 800 people leaders and employee relations professionals and found that 98 percent of employee relations practitioners don't think managers have all the skills required to properly document and manage employee issues. Slightly more than half of managers are confident in their abilities.

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Employee relations professionals say lacking such skills can negatively affect employee morale, trust, and productivity. Moreover, managers' poor handling of employee issues can lead to turnover. When people leaders are trained to effectively deal with situations with employees, the benefits—from retention to increased productivity—are advantageous to the business.

Researchers for the HR management software company point to training to close the leadership gap: "Organizations must upskill and empower people leaders to deliver consistent, informed outcomes that will build trust with employees and increase confidence in [employee relations] professionals."

Employers that have not updated their managerial training to cover ways to resolve employee issues are behind the curve. According to the report, hybrid and remote working arrangements make it harder to manage employee issues. More than two-thirds of people leaders agree that doing so is more difficult in today's working climate. They cite such challenges as lack of in-person or face-to-face interactions, changes in processes, technical issues with phone and video calls, and the inability to monitor employees' behavior and time.

Still, supervisors need to be able to properly handle employee issues regardless of work environment because they are a direct and critical link to an overall positive organizational culture. The report calls out that employers should equip people leaders with the tools and skills to manage employee relations no matter the work environment.

About the Author

Derrick Thompson is a former writer/editor for ATD.

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