08/01/13 By Jennifer Brown

You've fitted in so well at the companyAs business owners, we are often working 24/7 to attract and maintain positive relationships with clients. We work hard to make sure we have strong marketing, finance, and customer service practices in place. But how often do we take the time to think about our employee relationships and practices? Nothing drains a business owner’s time, energy, and cash quicker than a disgruntled employee.

According to Mark Royal, author of The Enemy of Engagement: Put an End to Workplace Frustration–and Get the Most from Your Employees, frustrated employees make up at least 20 percent of the total workforce and nearly one-third of these employees report that they do not have the necessary resources and information to successfully do their jobs. Royal further states that companies ranking in the top quartile on both engagement and enablement achieve revenue growth that is 4.5 times greater than companies ranking high on engagement alone.

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Companies that both engage and enable employees have voluntary turnover rates that are 54 percent less than their peers!

Employees tend to become disgruntled when they don’t understand a decision or believe they have been treated unfairly. And in reality, it is actually quite easy to prevent this type of employee frustration. By abiding by the following 4 rules of employee relations, you will be able to maintain positive relations with your employees.
1. Always treat employees with respect, regardless of the circumstances of the situation. Kindness pays off in the long run.
2. Put HR policies and practices in writing and apply them consistently. Consistency is key: you cannot choose to apply a policy to one person and not to the other.
3. Ensure employees have an internal mechanism for expressing concerns. Adopt an open door policy whereby employees can come to speak with you or any member of management to express concerns. Be sure to listen to the employee and try to work with him/her to come up with a solution. If the employee’s concern is a complaint or related to harassment or unfair treatment, be sure the situation is investigated and resolved appropriately.
4. Stay in touch with your employees. Meet with them regularly, take them to lunch, and solicit their input. Employees who understand the policies and feel respected will trust you to work with them fairly to resolve any issues.

Ultimately, strong employee relation practices not only prevent EEOC investigations and lawsuits but also lead to increased productivity and client service, thus allowing you to focus on growing versus defending your business.

What rules would you add to this list?

Please let me know if there are topics and/or questions you’d like me to address.

Jennifer Brown is the founder of PeopleTactics LLC, she is devoted to helping small business owners implement solutions to prevent Human Resources problems that drain them of their time, money, and energy. Jennifer works with small businesses in order to help them build stronger employee relationships, understand and comply with employment laws, establish policies, and set up easy-to-use HR systems to consistently avoid problems.

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