Lynn Fraser of The Wayland Partnership is the contributor of the following guest article which follows last week’s articles on Managers and communication
Whether the economy slows down or not, we have all learnt too much to turn our back on the value of getting and keeping a talented, knowledgeable, flexible workforce. To do this we’re having to think and act differently.
Just as the shift took place in the relationship with customers from one based on sales to one based on marketing, there is a parallel shift taking place in the way organisations manage their relationship with employees. Already organisations are considering their ‘employer brand’, building internal, identity-driven communities and seeking to offer employees a wider reward package. The logical next step is to link these initiatives together, build on them and create a coherent, managed approach. This could be summed up as Employee Relationship Management.
Employee Relationship Management means applying the principles of Customer Relationship Marketing to your relationship with your employees. It means treating employees as individuals and developing a long-term, evolving relationship with them based on trust, two-way dialogue and the fulfilment of mutual needs. This sounds like a tall order, but it is the direction in which many of our existing theories and initiatives are taking us. Identifying the central theme that draws the separate strands of thinking and action together gives us a model to aim for and measure our activities against.
Characteristics of Employee Relationship Management
Below are the key characteristics of Employee Relationship Management:
Mutual needs are respected and met
The employer-employee relationship should be one of partnership, not servant-master. It is interdependent and based on the principle of win-win.
Communication is based on two-way dialogue
There need to be opportunities for both sides in the relationship to be heard and listened to. Employers need to ensure that they act on what they hear.
The relationship is flexible and evolving
The needs of the employer and the employee will change over time. Action will need to be taken and plans put in place to ensure that the relationship has the elasticity to deal with this.
The focus is on individuals not a homogenous group
Communication and action need to ensure that employees are not treated – or feel as though they are being treated – as cogs in a machine.
The relationship is based on – and fosters – trust
Employers will have to work on building their employees’ trust in them through positive action over time – and demonstrate that they trust their employees to behave honestly and do a good job.
A community is built
Employers and employees should be part of one community with shared values and goals. Being part of a positive community at work is increasingly important to people as lines between work and home life blur.
Lynn Fraser is a senior partner with The Wayland Partnership, a communication and training consultancy based in Kingston upon Thames in Surrey.
see Lynn’s previous articles: