Line managers squeezed to take ownership of employee relations
Line managers are being squeezed from all fronts to effectively manage employee relations issues as both C-Suite and HR managers want them to take greater ownership.
According to AdviserPlus’ recent HR Transformation Conundrum Research, positioning line managers as employee relations owners is the top priority for 100 C-Suite leaders and 120 HR managers of organisations with at least 1,000 employees.
However, when it comes to providing them with the right tools to do so, C-Suite and HR differ in their understanding of the challenge 80% of C-Suite respondents say that line managers already have the skills and capabilities to successfully manage employee relations issues, yet only half (40%) of HR managers agree.
Moreover, less than one in four (22%) HR respondents agree that managers are provided with the right level of training to handle employee relations matters. Yet over 60% of C-Suite respondents believe the training provided is enough.
Michael Campbell, Commercial Director at AdviserPlus, explained: “Line managers are our first line of attack and defence when it comes to engaging employees, so they need to be well versed in the objectives of our people strategies and well trained to deliver employee experiences that build a deeper emotional commitment to the organisation.
“To do this well, we need to empower and equip managers to make it easy for them to do the right thing at the right time as people issues arise.
“This gulf in opinion is a major conundrum for leaders of transformation initiatives and it needs to be urgently addressed. An accurate understanding of line managers’ capability and training needs is required before it’s possible to invest in the right transformation solutions that enable them to take on greater responsibility for employee relations matters.”
The research also indicated that when it comes to handling employee relations matters, over 75% of both C-Suite and HR manager groups agree that line managers should have direct responsibility for ‘performance’ of their employees, followed closely by ‘sickness and absence management’ at 67%.
In the context of the delta in opinion as to how well-trained managers are to handle employee relations issues, there is a risk that such matters are being poorly managed.
Campbell added: “Without the right coaching and resources, we can’t expect line managers to confidently take on more employee relations responsibilities. HR transformation needs to include tools to effectively empower managers without risk, including the right technology, analytics and learning and development support.
“Our research indicates that one of the barriers to successful transformation may be this misalignment of priorities. Business and HR leaders need to work together to align the priorities of HR transformation with business and people goals to avoid costly investment in the wrong transformation strategy.”