Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Love & Hate Employee-Employer Relationship

Employees complain about having a bad boss that is either not in touch with reality or not supporting their needs. Working relationships have similarities with intimate relationships. Consider these three elements that are applicable regardless of what stage you are with your Employee-Employer Relationship.

Most people will argue the foundation of any relationship is trust. Do employees trust that employers have their best interests at heart? Some feedback I received over the year from my client’s employees have gone a little like this …”It amazes me that they want more from me, tell me I should be happy I have a job, and oh by the way….we will not be providing increases this year. However, the executive team still receives increase, bonuses, and the company continues to expand. Why should I trust someone who treats me that way?” Although the employees have some merit to what they are saying, employers could do a better job with helping them understand the company’s strategy. The organization’s vision and goals loses its understanding as it trickles down the organization. Employees need to understand how they contribute to these strategies, be able to provide input up the hierarchy, be heard, and provide input on how some decisions are made. Trust needs to be demonstrated and earned with both parties.

Getting engaged is a big step toward a serious commitment. Organizations should revisit what happens in dating relationships. People get to know one another to determine if they have enough in common, shared values, beliefs, and vision/goals. Employers have been lacking in this area of their relationships. We are familiar with the characters XOXO (Hugs and Kisses). We are not encouraging you to love on your employees in that manner but would like to share some business characters with you.

ETRM (Environment, Time, Reward, Motivate). You can get them engaged and share your enthusiasm for having them in your work relationship with these letters.

E. Setting the right environment is a major hygiene factor. Managers are responsible for providing a work environment conducive to productivity. How is the ambience in your workplace?

T. Spending time with them to find out how happy they are and how things can be improved.

R. Reward in a way to preserve equity.

M. Everyone needs motivation rather it’s initiated internally or externally.

Prenuptial Agreement – Employment Contract
Signing an agreement before the commitment begins has been taboo and very controversial in relationships. This same sentiment has happened in working relationships. Asking employees to sign agreements like Non-Disclosure Agreement, non-compete clause, or other employment contracts may seem like there is a lack of trust. However, many businesses that use them have seen where trust increase and expectations are clear. This increases the chance of having a quality work relationship. The employee receives more of a guarantee on receiving their wages and the tools and information they need to do a quality job.

How do you handle these challenges in your office? We would love to hear your comments.


  1. I like the thought process of the employee-employer relationship just as a relationship when dating. Of the three elements: trust, engagement, and ETRM, I think that trust is most important. Knowing that your employer has your best interest at heart and vice versa will provide you the assurance that your can give your best without any guard up. If a person did not trust their employer, they would always be finding a way to use the company to better themselves without thinking long term stability with the company.

    With the ETRM concept, it makes sense that having the right Environment, spending Time, and offering Rewards will definitely Motivate employees. Staying motivated on the job is a benefit to both parties. The employees are encouraged to to their job and are likely satisfied and the employer is likely getting quality work from satisfied employees

  2. I am learning that workplace relationships are vital in today's working environment. How well an employer treats his/her employees and how an employee feels about his/her employer can determine the success of an organization. The three elements (Trust, Engage and ETRM) listed in the article are necessary to improve any work relationship. I think that engaging is a very important element in the workplace. It is very important for an employer to engage with their employees. Employers offering effective training and assistance is a form of engaging. Also, individual meetings and evaluations allow the employer and employee to discuss future goals to be accomplished. Trust is an important element as well. Trust is earned in the workplace through communication, team work and through the completion of assigned tasks.


  3. Trust is something that is gained (or lost) generally over a period of time. Employers can and should begin to build trust with employees in the smallest of ways (i.e. payroll being properly handled each pay period, correct accounting for employee leave balances, etc.). In thinking with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, if the employer takes care of the basic trust needs of the employee, trust should begin to fluorish within the relationship. Employees also have a responsibility in building trust with the employer (i.e. coming to work on time, performing job functions to the best of their ability, not abusing leave, etc.), and in that way, the employer will begin to build trust in the employee. Too often, differing sides think that it's the other side's fault that there is no trust (and therefore no growth) in the relationship.

    The ETRM solution seems to be a good roadmap to traversing that line of trust between the employee and employer. By following the guidelines of ETRM, each side can become more aware of and more sensitive to the needs of the other side.

    We can summarize it to say that work, like love, is a two-way street. There are no 100% right and 100% wrong ways of doing things. A little compassion, compromise, and compensation can lead to a lot of trust, understanding, and relationship growth.


  4. Trust is something that is earned and never given. It is also a two-way street. Trust is vital in a workplace environment. Without it your employer/employee relationship will be built on sand and will crumble at the first sight of turbulance. ETRM is basic yet effective. Create an environment that promotes creativity and productivity and you will recieve both. Time is the most valuable asset that a managers has--take the time to know your people and then take care of them. Reward for the positive and motivate daily. GREAT TOOL