How Do You Become an Employee Relations Specialist?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that anyone who wants to become an employee relations specialist will need at least a bachelor’s degree related to law, business or human resources. Most employee relations specialists are HR generalists who have graduated from a program approved by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM).

Get a Bachelor in Human Resources

The first step is to get a bachelor’s degree in a human resources topic. These degrees will provide learning experiences that students can readily transfer into their human resources management careers. They will master performance competencies through skill-based projects and knowledge development through experiences that challenge values and explore practices. Graduates of these degree programs will be able to demonstrate the ability to analyze the various functions of a human resources department against labor interactions with union and bargaining representatives.

They will know how to develop and implement employee strategies by examining emerging challenges that are transforming labor landscapes. A bachelor’s degree in human resources will include classes about internal and external recruitment, retention and development. There are always classes in legal compliance, organizational management, training assessments, interview skills and functional human resources specialties. Students will be exposed to benefits and compensation management, so they will understand that pay systems must be internally consistent and externally competitive.

Get a Graduate Certificate or Degree

Anyone who wants to become an employee relations specialist should pursue a graduate-level certificate or degree specifically in labor or employee relations. These programs will provide just the training needed to understand employee relations. Students will understand labor relations and collective bargaining in the private and public sectors from historical and current perspectives. They will study the laws that regulate the relationships between employers and employees.

Some of the topics studied will include the processes of establishing a bargaining unit, negotiating a collective agreement and administrating the agreement’s arbitration and unfair labor practices stipulations. Students may also learn about legal issues of employment through examining the federal and state laws that impact personnel functions and the application company policies in workplace settings. This means that students will learn about equal employment, affirmative action, workplace privacy and mandatory safety programs.

Work in Human Resources

There are plenty of entry-level human resources jobs that will provide relevant experience. A human resource assistant of a labor relations manager will provide support for employee relations issues, investigations and fact findings. Human resource assistants collaborate with managers to identify performance gaps and capability concerns. They may be asked to contact union representatives to negotiate training and development assignments. They may partner with human resource specialists to analyze benefit and reward functions, annual performance standards and current competitive pay rates and benefits.

Human resource assistants will be continually exposed to human resources compliance issues, employment contract nuances and complex employment laws. They may be involved in hiring interviews for job candidates and exit interviews for departing employees. HR assistants may process FMLA, vacation, paternity, maternity and bereavement leave requests. They may also deal with workers’ compliance documentation and case management. Human resource assistants will be able to leverage their position to participate in internal investigations, employee relations and complaints/grievances management.

Related Resource: Become a Trade Analyst

Any experience in the field of human resources will help job candidates get a job as a labor relations specialist. Anyone who wants to become an employee relations specialist should also have the ability to interview federal regulations, state mandates, internal procedures and statistical data.