Are you a high school student in search of a career that would make good use of your communication abilities, interpersonal skills and attention to detail? You might consider pursuing a career in employee relations management. Explore a typical employee relations manager job description below and discover the career pathway you could follow.
What Is an Employee Relations Manager?
Employees are a company’s most valuable and essential asset. Yet, employees can be productive, contributing members of the company only if they feel supported and treated fairly at work. It’s the job of an employee relations manager to ensure that all employees receive fair and equal treatment, have access to the HR tools they need, and are able to make contributions to the company.
“Employee relations management” is another term for human resources. An employee relations manager may alternatively have the job title of “human resources manager.”
A Look at a Typical Employee Relations Manager Job Description
A typical employee relations manager job description will cover the main areas of the usual responsibilities pertaining to company policies, benefits and compensation, contractual matters and legal liability or risk management. Each day might look a little different, depending on what happens to be going on with the company and its employees at any given time. In general, however, you might expect to see the following items in an employee relations manager job description:
- Negotiate contracts between new hires and the company, and between the company and established employees whose current contracts are set to expire
- Facilitate positive and productive relations between the company and the union (if applicable)
- Develop benefits packages, including sick leave, vacation time, parental leave, health insurance and stock options
- Develop, implement and update company policies with regard to employee relations, such as anti-harassment/discrimination policies and social media policies
- Mediate disputes between employees, and between employees and their supervisors
- Develop programs intended to promote employee wellness and work/life balance
- Manage and oversee the company’s recruitment, interviewing and hiring processes
Employee relations management professionals may also develop programs and coordinate resources intended to empower employees to do their jobs more effectively or efficiently. They may plan and implement continuing education courses and professional development workshops, such as by arranging for guest speakers to address employees.
How To Become an Employee Relations Manager
If you’ve decided that becoming an employee relations manager is the right choice for you, you can get to work right away on building relevant competencies. If you’re still in high school, talk to your guidance counselor about whether you can add any communications courses to your schedule. Classes in law, history and sociology could also be helpful.
As you near your graduation date, you’ll need to start thinking about college. Employee relations managers are expected to have a bachelor’s degree. Some might also have a master’s degree, but this isn’t strictly necessary for most positions.
There is some flexibility regarding the type of bachelor’s degree you could earn, although you should pursue a liberal arts degree. A communications degree would be a strong choice.
After graduating, you’ll need to gain professional work experience in a human resources office. You could also earn a professional certification as an employee relations specialist or a human resources specialist. Work experience combined with a professional certification can help you pursue your dream job in employee relations management.
Earn Your Undergraduate Communications Degree
After high school, the first step in the process of pursuing a career in employee relations management is to earn your undergraduate degree. Because this career requires strong communication skills, it’s a smart move to choose a communications degree, such as a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an Emphasis in Interpersonal Communication and Human Relationships. This would give you a strong foundation for working with both individuals and groups of employees.
Although the specific curriculum will vary from one program to the next, you can generally expect to study the following topics while earning your communications degree:
- Principles of small group communications, including leadership skills, participation, information sharing and critical reasoning
- Intercultural communication competencies, emphasizing verbal and nonverbal communication, and exploring influencing cultural factors such as social life, education, religion, politics and family structure
- Fundamentals of conflict communication and the negotiation process across a range of contexts (e.g. interpersonal and organizational), with a look at power dynamics in relationships
- The development of healthy workplace relationships, with a look at emotional intelligence, diversity and ethical behaviors
Toward the end of your studies, you may be required to complete a capstone course. A capstone course allows you to put everything you’ve learned to use by developing a major research and writing project. You should choose a focus that is reflective of your career goals, such as by exploring some aspect of workplace communications or employee relations.
Acquire Entry-Level HR Experience
A managerial job is not an entry-level one. Experience requirements will vary from one employer to the next, but in general, you may need about five years of relevant experience before you’ll be qualified to pursue a job in employee relations management. The most natural choice for an entry-level job position is to look for an opening for a human resources specialist or an employee relations specialist.
In this type of role, you’ll perform many of the same duties as a manager. However, you won’t have any supervisory duties. Instead, you’ll work under the supervision and direction of the employee relations manager.
The employee relations manager may direct you to perform tasks such as the following:
- Check on the references provided by job candidates
- Run background checks on job candidates
- Assist with employee onboarding programs
- Maintain employment records
- Respond to questions from employees about their sick leave, vacation time and other benefits
In short, you’re likely to focus more on administrative tasks in this entry-level role than on planning and overseeing the functions of the human resources department.
Pursue Voluntary Certification Options
Obtaining a professional certification is not a strict requirement, although some employers may prefer it. In addition, becoming certified can allow you to gain an edge over other applicants. There are a few organizations that offer certification options to employee relations experts.
- The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
- HR Certification Institute
- World at Work
- International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Essential Skills and Traits for Working in Employee Relations Management
An aspiring employee relations manager can benefit from cultivating the following skills and characteristics:
- Communication abilities
- Attention to detail
- Interpersonal skills
- Ethical judgment and decision making
- Servant leadership
Are Human Resources Professionals in Demand?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for human resources specialists to increase by about 10% from 2020 to 2030, which is as fast as the average for all professions, accounting for an estimated increase of 70,200 jobs in the field.1
Looking beyond this role, the demand for human resources managers is also expected to be robust for the foreseeable future. As of September 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for human resources managers to increase by about 9% from 2020 to 2030, as fast as the average, accounting for an estimated increase of 14,800 jobs in the field.2
If you’re passionate about helping companies grow and employees thrive, you can fuse your passion with purpose at Grand Canyon University. Begin preparing to pursue your dream career in HR by applying for enrollment in the Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an Emphasis in Interpersonal Communication and Human Relationships degree program.
1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Human Resources Specialists, retrieved on 01/31/2022.
2 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on 2020, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Human Resources Managers.
Approved by an Instructor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Nov. 21, 2022.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.