How Employee Relations can help businesses pave a way through the global crisis

27 May 20 by esphr

As the entire world continues in the long road towards some form of recovery, what impact can Employee Relations (ER) have on organisations that are doing everything they can to survive?

As COVID-19 continues to ravage the UK’s population, healthcare and economy, the virus has completely changed the way in which we now all operate. For many UK businesses, that means doing everything possible to ensure safe working practices. From rolling out longer-term remote working capabilities to social distancing measures – every single employer has been challenged to diversify their workforce, and quickly.

Throughout this difficult era, companies will be restructuring, tackling redundancy matters and complying with new guidelines in order to protect their teams. Additionally, employers will be continuing to support employees who have been directly impacted by COVID-19.

And with the impending emergence from the UK lockdown, this period will present new challenges for HR professionals to contend with – and this is where ER can truly make its mark.

Why should ER matter now?

ER can prove to be pivotal when enabling organisations – and their HR departments – to get back on their feet. Why? Because it can determine whether or not a business succeeds in the hardest of times.

In addition, it embodies the critical relationship between an employer and their workforces – and impacts productivity, staff motivation and the entire company culture. Overall, it is one of the most important elements towards maintaining a healthy bottom line when leaders need it the most.

However, there is no doubt that managers will have a mammoth task on their hands when it comes to navigating the intricacies of employees returning to work. Not everyone adapts to change easily. And for those firms that struggle, they can often find themselves in a difficult position when it comes to maintaining staff morale and positive working relations – especially if they have encountered large scale adjustments, job losses and/or furlough.

For those companies with a robust ER and HR structure in place, they are perhaps in a stronger position to fight for survival and face fresh obstacles with agility and a sense of confidence.

What does the future hold – and how does ER play a role?

Regardless of which camp a leader falls into, throughout all this some form of a rebuild must take place. Whether that concerns a slight alteration to a company offering, or a complete pivot of their proposition, managers up and down the nation will be tasked with a challenge they might never have experienced before.

And that is why – as a business community – we should use this as an opportunity to come together (albeit remotely), share knowledge and support one another. ER taps into all this, helping organisations to establish themselves in what may be a different, and perhaps scary, working environment than we have previously been accustomed to.

Our economy and the way we work will be changed for a long time to come – and we will be seeing the significant role in which ER plays to support this. It is often the beating heart of a forward-thinking firm and so there has never been a more crucial time for leaders to consider how ER can truly, and positively, impact their firm’s future.


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