Employee and labor relations is one of the disciplines in human resources that can give you a broad understanding of how HR functions. An employee relations coordinator might be involved in any number of HR activities, such as workplace investigations, supervisor coaching, new employee orientation and employee recognition programs. Because of the variety and the often sensitive issues that employee relations specialists handle, the job requires strict confidentiality and -- in some cases -- a tough exterior.
An employee relations coordinator position is an entry-level role in this HR discipline. She typically reports to an employee relations specialist, an employee relations manager or the HR department manager. Depending on the workforce size, the coordinator might provide administrative support to more than one employee relations specialist. To be an employee relations "star," you need to have good communication skills, the ability to maintain highly confidential information and strong analytical and critical-thinking skills.
Staffing and Recruitment
As an employee relations coordinator, you could be involved in the on-boarding and orientation for new employees. If your company has several departments and hundreds of employees, you might be the ambassador who introduces new employees to staff, gives them a tour of the facility and schedules their new orientation sessions. If you're involved in the front end of the staffing process, posting job vacancies and organizing job applications could be part of your job.
One of the primary functions of HR employee relations is investigating and resolving workplace issues. If you work in an industry prone to numerous employee conflicts, you might be assisting on the investigation of a high-profile sexual harassment claim by transcribing notes from witness interviews or scheduling meetings between HR staff and the company's legal counsel. Employee relations handles some of the most sensitive issues, which is why confidentiality is important. Also, the subject matter of some employee complaints can make you blush or stir emotions based on personal experiences -- issues such as discrimination and unfair treatment. Either way, you have to approach your duties from a professional and almost unemotional perspective. On the other hand, your job could entail something as mundane as helping the employee relations specialist conduct focus groups to determine why employee morale is slipping.
Employee social events, such as awards banquets, company-sponsored sports outings and volunteer drives for charitable organizations usually fall under the purview of the HR employee relations area. As the coordinator, you might arrange meetings at venues to view banquet menus, receive RSVPs to the awards luncheon or compose memos to announce how to sign up for tickets to the company's night at the baseball stadium. You could be the point-person during those events, so you're essentially the hostess, coordinator and on-site event planner.
In addition to your principal duties, the employee relations specialist or HR manager might assign you administrative duties. Assisting employees during open enrollment, maintaining paperwork for HR compliance issues, updating job descriptions and responding to requests from current and former employees could be on your job description. Interdepartmental activities, such as assembling HR reports and presentations, ordering supplies and walking the premises to ensure that workplace posters are current also may be tacked on to your job duties.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.