Employee Relationship Management “ERM”
January 22, 2011 1 Comment
Human Resource vendors as well as Customer Relationship Management Vendors are trying to offer solutions for Employee Relationship Management. Employee Relationship Management is a science as old as business itself. One of the first technologies to improve employee relationship was the telephone and later the fax. So what is Employee relationship management all about?
Defining employee relationship management is more difficult than defining something like Customer Relationship management. The nature of the relationship between a company and employee is far more complex than the relationship with customers. Customers simply go off to competitors when the relationship is not working while unhappy employees can remain for long periods in the company. Customers only experiences the company at some key points of truth while employees are daily experiencing a relationship with their employer. The employee experience the relationship with the employer from the moment the employee enters into a workspace. Their moments of truth is overshadowed by a total experience over a period of time.
The question is however: “Why do we need Employee Relationship Management?“. Before answering this question we need to reflect on what constitutes a relationship.
We have a relationship between two parties when;
- They feel close to each other.
- They have report with each other.
- They interact well.
- They communicate.
- They are sympathetic to each other .
- They are responsive.
- They feel empathy with each other.
A good relationship is a relationship where there is a reciprocal exchange of value between two parties. Both parties must want to be part of that relationship and contribute to the relationship to work.
We believe that Employee Relationship Management will improve productivity by improving:
- Employee morale
- Employee loyalty
- Employee turnaround
- Employee communication
- Employee change readiness
The problem with a relationship is that it is much like an iceberg. The visible part of the relationship is only the tip of the iceberg that is visible above the water level. Most of the factors that determine the quality of a relationship is beneath the water. All these are done with the aim of improving productivity rather than interacting with employees.
The question is: Can Technology can help improve employee relationships especially if such a large part of the relationship is based on hidden element?
Technology has already contributed to improving employee relationships:
Companies already employ HR systems to ensure that employees get paid out the correct salaries on time
- HR system allows employees to manage training as well as their leave.
- Advance companies have performance measurement systems that assist with the monitoring and feedback of performance by linking it to bonus schemes.
- Work flow systems help to manage and coordinate the flow of work to and from employees.
- Organisational structure diagramming helped to make reporting lines and responsibilities clear.
- Business information management technologies provides employees with up to date information.
- Knowledge management technologies help employees to share knowledge of what is happening in the company.
- Email, company portals and electronic calendars are already tools in use in most companies.
- Chief Executives have use blogging as a means to directly communicate with employees.
- Online self training courses helps employees to stay up to date with the latest developments in the industry
These technologies improved efficiencies rather than relationships. The question is: “Can these technologies really help to improve employee relationships?” I think they can if these technologies are integrated and shaped around the needs of each employee.
A company will benefit only from Employee Relationship Management technologies if there are clear guidelines and rules of how these technologies should be used. A culture that values the employee must pervade the organisation before these technologies can begin to make a positive contribution. Without a clear management adoption of employee centered values these technologies can become a destructive force which spread a negative morale rather than a positive one. Employee relationship management tools breaks down the dependency on hierarchical command and control systems and introduces more and more a self organizing culture of employees that are networked to collaborate on points of need.
Technology can definitely assist but old style interpersonal skills and conflict resolution techniques are still forming the baseline requirements for effective Employee Relationship Management.