Why employer/employee relations are important: a guide

Updated 14 August 2023

The relationship between employers and employees can be either positive or negative and can affect the overall morale of employees. If there's a good relationship between employers and employees, it can lead to higher productivity, lower turnover rates and boosted job satisfaction rates and morale amongst employees. It's beneficial to understand relations because they're a major part of the work environment. In this article, we look at what employer/employee relations are, list the different types of relationships and provide nine tips to improve them.

What are employer/employee relations?

Employer/employee relations refer to the relationship between an employer and an employee. This relationship is a contract between the two parties, which can be either written or verbal. These relations are important because they affect both parties. For example, it's necessary for employers to get the most out of their employees as this helps them stay competitive in their industry. Employee output can help them stay ahead of their competitors. An employee wants to feel valued by their employer so they produce quality work and remain loyal to their company.


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Types of employer/employee relations

There are two main types of relations. This includes:


Horizontal relations are a type of employee-employer relationship where both parties are in the same position. For example, an employer and employee both work in IT or in marketing. These relationships can be either positive or negative, but they're typically more likely to be negative because there's more opportunity for conflict. In horizontal relations, one party has more power than the other because they have more experience or higher status within the company. This can lead to conflict. For example, an employee may want a day off that an employer isn't willing to grant.

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Vertical relations refer to the relationship between employees and their superiors. In this context, a superior has authority over another person/group. The relationships are usually hierarchical and involve a prominent power imbalance. This is because the employee's supervisor may have more responsibilities and duties than they do. In this type of relationship, the employee relies on their superior for guidance and leadership. This means a vertical relationship differs from a horizontal relationship as the employer and employee work within different sections of the organisation, like the C suite vs. a receptionist, rather than being on the floor together.

Related: Understanding the C-Suite: what it is and how to get there

Why are employee/employer relationships important?

These relations are important because they set the tone for a company's culture. A company with poor employee relations may have trouble recruiting and retaining talent, which can lead to a number of issues, such as low productivity and high turnover. Companies with good employee/employer relationships, tend to be more successful at recruiting new talent and keeping it happy once they have it. This is because employees who feel valued are likelier to work hard, while employees who feel undervalued are likelier to leave. Though, the key to strong relations often lies in compensation packages.

Related: 9 qualities of a good employee (with definition and examples)

How to improve employee/employer relationships

Nine tips for improving relations include:

1. Schedule regular employer/employee meetings

When improving relations, it's key to schedule regular meetings with employees because it creates a safe space for employers and employees alike to bring up a problem they would like to resolve. For example, if a copywriter feels as though the briefs they're receiving are either too vague or formatted in a confusing manner, they can bring this up with managers during one of these meetings. Together, employers and employees can look into a solution, for example, they may create a checklist clients can structure their briefs around. This can help to minimise miscommunication.

2. Be open to suggestions and criticisms

It's vital for employers and employees to be open to suggestions and criticisms when improving their relations, as this can have a significant effect on workplace culture. When employees feel as though their ideas are valued, they're more likely to feel their opinions are heard and respected. This can lead them to become more invested in their job, which improves productivity and reduces turnover. If employers seek out feedback from their employees, they can gain insight into which improvements are necessary. This helps both the employer and employee feel like they're working together toward a common goal.

Related: How to give critical feedback effectively and its importance

3. Establish clear communication channels

Good communication is the key to improving employee/employer relationships because it can help both parties to avoid problems before they arise. If there are problems in the workplace, the company resolve them faster than if they're allowed to build up over time. Good communication can help improve relations by making the workplace more pleasant for everyone involved. When employers and employees are able to communicate their needs and concerns clearly, it makes them feel heard and understood, which boosts morale.

4. Make sure employees know what's expected of them

When improving employee/employer relationships, it's important for managerial staff to make sure employees know what's expected of them. This is because clear communication between the employer and employee can lead to a better company culture overall. Ensuring employees are clear on their responsibilities also helps them feel more confident in their ability to do the right thing when confronted with a complex project, for example. When employers and employees are on the same page, a company is better positioned to achieve its objectives, which can lead to improved retention rates, better business performance and a stronger brand.

5. Pay attention to morale and motivation levels

It's useful for employers to pay attention to morale and motivation levels when improving these relations because this helps them ensure they're creating an environment that fosters a sense of trust, transparency and communication. When employers have a high level of morale and motivation among employees, they become more likely to show up for work on time, be productive during their shifts and stick around long enough to see a business succeed. Without incentives such as team building days in place to keep morale high, it's hard for businesses to thrive.

6. Be sensitive to cultural differences

It's important for employers and employees to be sensitive to cultural differences in the workplace. Many of these cultures value different things, which can lead to conflict between employees and employers. For example, some cultures are more direct than others. It is beneficial if each person understands how they can communicate effectively as this can help them foster better relationships. If both sides are aware of each other's cultural backgrounds, they have a better understanding of each other when deciding how best to proceed with projects, for instance.

7. Give regular feedback

Regular feedback is vital for employee/employer relationships because it helps to establish a culture of trust and respect. When an employee feels as though a company values their input, they're going to be more likely to engage with their work. This also means they're less likely to quit or feel frustrated by the company's practices. Giving regular feedback can also help employers with succession planning. This is because it allows them to closer identify whether their current employees have the skills and abilities necessary to advance within the company.

8. Treat everyone in the office with respect and dignity

Treating everyone in the office with respect and dignity is key because it helps to build a positive work environment. When employees feel valued, they're more likely to feel like they're part of a team, which means they're going to be more productive and happier with their jobs. This atmosphere of respect also helps employers prove their business has integrity and values its employees as much as it values profits. This reputation can often help potential clients decide to go into business with one organisation over another.

9. Develop a performance appraisal system that is fair to employers and employees

It's beneficial to develop a performance appraisal system that's fair to employers and employees as it helps to improve communication between the two parties. When both sides are able to communicate with each other, then they're able to communicate their feelings and thoughts on different issues such as pay and benefits. This communication allows them to work together towards a common goal instead of working against each other. The promise of appraisal incentivises both employers and employees to perform.


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