Employee relationship management wasn’t Henry Ford’s goal when he revolutionized the workplace by building his cars on an assembly line. He reduced the time to build a car from 12 hours to 2.5 hours when he had the cars come to the workers, rather than the workers coming to the cars.
His assembly line revolution spread quickly to other industries and the replaceable worker was born. Instead of having to train an employee to build a whole car, you simply had to train a person to put one piece together, or to drill the same six holes, over and over again.
Today, manufacturing isn’t the biggest part of the US economy (although it is a critical part), and most jobs don’t consist of repetitive tasks. And so, a shift has occurred—instead of workers that act pretty much like the person next to them on the assembly line, there is personalization in the workforce.
Employee relationship management is changing from the employee conforming to the company to the job fitting the employee's needs. Managers in organizations have three significant opportunities to personalize their employee relationship management.
Personalized Electronics Help With Employee Relationship Management
When an employee showed up for a new job, they found a desk ready for them that was equipped with all of the equipment they would need to do the job. This was the former norm. Today, many companies have adopted a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that allows (or requires) employees to provide their own equipment.
In fact, 85% of companies have a BYOD policy for at least some of their employees. While problems exist with this BYOD approach—particularly when you think about data security and software clashes—it allows employees to work with the tools they are most comfortable using.
Are you an iPhone lover? Then your organization won’t force you to learn to use an Android at work. Nor will you have to carry two phones—your phone and a work phone. Do you prefer to use Microsoft Office over Google Docs? That is fine, as long as your final documents are good.
This is a benefit to employees who don’t have to struggle to learn new systems, but it can also create a burden for them. Who pays when an employee’s personal laptop breaks? Is the security on everyone’s personal phone (where the makes and models are not the same) up to date so company data is protected?
Do employees feel financially burdened by the BYOD policy? You don’t want to personalize electronics to the point that your employees' credit cards are maxed out. You don't want your BYOD policy to damage your relationship with your employees.
Employee Relationship Management With Telecommuting
70% of professionals worldwide telecommute at least one day per week, with 53% telecommuting at least half of the time. Employee relationship management changes completely when your employees are not only in a different office but may work in a different state or even a different country.
Many managers believed in “management by walking around" but that isn’t possible in the new flexible work environments. You’d have to switch it to management by sending instant messages to your employees. You can’t judge how hard an employee works by their furrowed brow, but rather by the end result of their work.
While computer systems can allow you to see when an employee is typing or clicking on their computer keyboards, it’s not the same as your own visual assessment.
Employee Relationship Management With Flexible Schedules
In addition to working from home, flexible schedules are also a part of a more personalized management style for employees. Some of this personalization is required by law. For instance, under the Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA), an employee with a health problem (or taking care of a family member with a health problem) may be eligible to take intermittent FMLA.
This allows the employee to come in late two days a week in order to deal with a health condition or see a doctor. An employee with a disability may need a reasonable accommodation to have a flexible schedule.
But, providing flexibility to personalize the hours the employee wants to work is simply good management. An employee with young children may prefer coming in early and going home early so as to meet the school bus. Another employee may prefer to come in at 10 am and work until 7 pm.
Workplaces find that allowing these types of flexible schedules can increase productivity and engagement. Not everyone is the same, so the assembly line factory model doesn’t work as well as it once did.
The Bottom Line
Technological changes allow this switch to a more employee-focused personalized workplace, and it’s not likely to become stricter in the future. Henry Ford’s great idea revolutionized manufacturing, but now employee relationship management through personalization is revolutionizing the experience of employment.