4 Myths around employee relations

Employee relationship (ER) management can play an important part in keeping your people happy, motivated and productive. But it can be extremely time-consuming, especially through periods of change in your organisation. This can put other, more strategically important projects on hold – but even so, outsourcing is often rejected as a solution for a number of reasons. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of those reasons – and why they might be more myths than anything else.

Myth 1: third party ER providers can’t know the business well enough to handle cases effectively

  • A common misconception people have is that their organisation is too complex and unique for a third party to ever understand it well enough to run an ER program successfully. But this is precisely why best-in-class ER partners will provide you with a dedicated team of employee relations consultants as part of their service. Those consultants take the time to get to know your organisation, and its culture, enabling them to align with your business needs and understand your specific policies.
  • On top of this, it’s important to remember that HR is largely sector-agnostic; issues and challenges that appear in one sector will likely appear in another too. If you find an HR service partner with sufficient experience and expertise, there won’t be much in your organisation that catches them by surprise or that they haven’t seen before.
  • An employee relations consultant’s distance from your organisation can actually be beneficial in some cases. Their perceived objectivity can sometimes help employees feel more comfortable in an ER situation, and if a particular ER case went to tribunal, the panel may look more favourably on information provided by a third party.

Myth 2: Outsourcing employee relations will slow down the process

  • There’s sometimes a worry that outsourcing work can slow down its delivery. However, outsourcing can actually have the opposite effect. Where an internal team may have to deal with other pressures and time constraints, a best-in-class ER provider will make sure that someone is always available from their team to provide assistance. This allows them to be a seamless extension to an HR team.
  • Connor, for instance, has over 30 HR experts providing support to clients, so neither we nor our clients are ever dependent on a single person. This means support, and resource, can be ramped up or down depending on an organisation’s needs.

Myth 3: Outsourcing will increase our risk profile

  • There is a worry that, because third parties don’t know your organisation that well, and aren’t a part of your organisation, outsourcing ER can increase your organisation’s risk profile. However, there are a number of ways that third parties can manage risk for you. The first is by indemnifying their guidance and advice, offering an extra level of cover for your organisation if an employee chooses to take legal action as a result of the ER provider’s advice. This option does present a few drawbacks, however. For the indemnity to be valid, both the ER provider and the organisation usually need to follow a very specific set of steps – and of course if one step gets missed then the indemnity may not be valid. Even if it is, the longer process that the organisation has to follow will slow down the ER process. If the process was initiated due to some damaging behaviour or poor productivity issue, then that will continue for longer before being resolved. Depending on the specifics of each case, the damage this could cause an organisation could be considerable. At the same time, the advice the ER provider gives their client will be governed, in large part, by risk – not what’s best for the organisation.
  • Other providers, like Connor, prefer to manage risk more proactively. We pride ourselves on providing advice to our clients that takes into account not only the level of risk of a given scenario, but also the commercial realities of a situation – recognising that in some cases, the risk of delaying a resolution to a case outweighs the risk of legal action. At the same time, we aim to manage risk through quality advice, looking for outcomes that actively minimise the risk of legal action.

Myth 4: It’s cheaper and more effective to do it internally, and will give us more control

  • It’s true that internal resource is usually cheaper than buying in external resource – but only if you look at direct costs. There’s an additional cost to the organisation of having your internal teams tied up in ER projects when they could be working on projects that actively drive profit and performance. Partnering with an ER partner enables you to direct your internal team to projects that drive the most value for your organisation, driving up the ROI of your department as a whole – and of course demonstrating the ROI of outsourced resource.
  • In terms of control, there are a number of things that a best-in-class HR services partner should provide to offer you full control. From timesheet data giving full transparency over costs, to regular review meetings where you can direct your partner’s work as you see fit, you should feel that you are still fully in control of ER within your organisation.
  • On top of this, an ER partner should be able to produce and analyse metrics to identify causal issues behind ER cases in your organisation. So on top of the value they provide by doing the work itself, your partner can work with you to reduce the need for ER services over time, reducing the cost of ER in your organisation. It’s not that your internal team couldn’t do this – but given your partner’s experience, and their ability to focus solely on one project, it’s possible that they can identify these problems quicker, coming armed with examples of employee relations issues they’ve already encountered, and work towards a solution drawing on their past work.

What can Connor do to help?

With years of experience across multiple sectors, Connor can draw on the best talent to help an organisation with their employee relations programs. To talk to us about how we can help your organisation, give us a call on 01491 525 501 or contact us via the website.

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