I am a Supervisory Human Resources Specialist – Employee Relations according to my business card. I handed it to a fellow Human Resources professional who asked me “what is employee relations, I’ve never heard of that.”
Recruitment and Placement or Benefits are the well known areas of Human Resources. It is the lighter side of HR. Who doesn’t want to offer jobs all day and answer questions about benefit packages to new employees. This isn’t to make light of the folks that work in these positions. Don’t get it twisted, they work hard to attract and retain qualified employees.
Employee Relations is the dark side of Human Resources. We deal with the employees who are not performing or not acting as managers wish they would. We deal with attendance issues, performance improvement plans, disciplinary actions, and involuntary separations.
We are there to walk the manager through the process of addressing misconduct or performance issues. We also exist to ensure the employees are treated equitably and do not allow managers to “get” an employee. We review evidence to ensure the proposed actions is supported by the evidence and stop the process when it isn’t supported. We listen to grievances, mediate differences, and provide alternatives and last chance agreements.
Employee relations isn’t for everyone. We are a small group of individuals entrusted with keeping the rules, providing flexible alternatives, and maintaining the order in an organization.