No two employee relations issues are ever exactly the same. That means that each issue deserves its own, focused attention. Sari Laurila Sardans, Senior Employee Relations Business Partner at LinkedIn, said that employee relations is more like an art. The role of ER is to:
‘Artistically work out an appropriate outcome to meet the needs of the employee, the manager and the company.’
To do this we need skills that can be described as uniquely human. They are authentic compassion and empathy, non-judgmental feedback, curiosity and confidence. We also need expressive body language to show care and engagement, and a calmness that can diffuse the heightened energy of a sensitive matter.
According to Sardans, the practice of ER should also be critically underpinned by principles such as mindfulness rather than being purely transactional. Engagement is only authentic if ER can listen attentively and objectively, appreciating the unique pain points of each party. Showing up with authenticity takes presence, care and interest. It takes a human-to-human interaction. It takes compassion and integrity. Addressing our ER issues and challenges as mere transactions can never secure the best outcome.
Our practice of employee relations is disinterred we miss the human factor. Effective ER partners should have a distinctly human face.
‘The ultimate ER experience is when an employee or manager expressed gratitude for how they were treated throughout the process.’
Not all solutions will be liked be all parties, but employee and manager experience is important. It is all these things together that build a healthy organisation where everyone can thrive.