Boss with unhappy employees

5 Ways to Improve the Employer-Employee Relationship

We’ve all heard the expression: “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bad bosses” — and it’s never been truer than when it comes to the Great Resignation. In a time when employees are reexamining their job satisfaction, companies must take steps to improve employee relationship management.

Of the  3,948 workers surveyed for our 2021 Talent Retention Report, 69.8% said they’d leave a job due to a poor relationship with supervisors.

Here are five strategies to improve the employer-employee relationship and keep your staff aboard.


Employee feedback survey


1. Figure Out What Employees Want

The first step to determining how to improve employee retention and how to keep employees happy is to know what employees want. Use anonymous surveys to ask employees what’s working and what’s not when it comes to the employer-employee relationship. Sample questions to ask include:

  • Do you receive constructive performance feedback from your manager?
  • How would you rate your relationship with your manager?
  • How well do you understand how you fit into the company’s goals?
  • What would you improve about your relationship with your manager?
  • How often do you discuss your performance and goals and receive feedback from your manager?
  • Does your manager care about you as a person?
  • Does your manager care about your personal/career development?


2. Emphasize Communication

For employees to enjoy healthy relationships with their managers, they need to have access to open, two-way communication. Although communicating is challenging if workers are remote or in hybrid formats, these ideas can help:

  • Instruct managers to set up one-on-one check-ins with employees on a weekly basis, performed either through video chats or in person. These meetings give managers a chance to see how employees are doing, both professionally and personally.
  • Increase manager visibility. Employees need to be comfortable with approaching their managers, which is why an open-door policy is critical. Even if teams are virtual or hybrid, managers can remain visible by jumping in on instant-messaging threads or organizing team-building and casual events, like virtual happy hour and coffee chats.


3. Focus on the Positive

Meaningful employee recognition is sometimes missing in poor employer-employee relationships, especially if you’re not seeing your employees face-to-face. However, it should still be an important part of any overall retention strategy. While managers often point out areas in which employees could improve, it’s also vital to focus on the areas where they’re excelling.

Managers can do this by thanking employees, either with a handwritten note or email, or simply recognizing them for a job well done. You may also build recognition into regular meetings by spotlighting high-achieving employees and accomplishments. It also helps to find out how employees prefer to be recognized, as not everyone enjoys public displays.

Through surveys, find out which rewards would motivate employees. Examples include telework, flexible leave, or gift cards.


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4. Offer Training to Managers

Managers may be lacking the support they need to lead employees effectively. That means you’ll need to take a second look at your management training programs. Do managers have everything they need to perform well? Do they know how to be a good manager? Here are some ideas to help:

  • Provide opportunities to improve management skills through online workshops and classes.
  • Hold leadership development seminars with management coaches.
  • Pair managers up with management mentors who can provide feedback on areas they need to improve.


5. Build Trust with Employees

A culture of trust is essential for healthy employer-employee relationships. Employees need to believe that their managers will follow up on promises and lead with transparency. Managers can increase trust with their direct reports by:

  • Offering honest explanations for decisions.
  • Holding themselves responsible for any mistakes.
  • Taking action after an employee comes to them with a problem or concern.


Happy employees


If you want to improve employee relationship management and retain employees, focus on building trust, communicating, and delivering positive feedback. These elements are crucial to employees achieving personal and professional success within your company — and can go a long way in boosting retention rates.

For more tips on how to improve employee retention and how to keep employees happy, visit our Resource Center.

By iHire | November 22, 2021