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What is the difference between HR and Employee Relations?

Written By - Christine Sutton

Understanding the difference between Human Resources (HR) and Employee Relations (ER) is key for any organisation looking to maintain a happy, productive workforce. These two functions are often confused but have distinct roles that should be recognized if an employer hopes to bring out the best in their staff. Let's take a closer look at what sets HR and ER apart from one another.

HR Vs Employee Relation (ER)

Human Resources (HR) vs Employee Relations (ER)

The core difference between Human Resources (HR) and Employee Relations (ER) is that the former focuses on managing an organisation's personnel while the latter emphasizes creating a positive relationship with employees. HR involves recruitment, training & development, compensation & benefits management along employee retention activities to ensure staff productivity and satisfaction.

Meanwhile, Employee Relations centres around addressing grievances as well as facilitating fair communication opportunities for maximized harmony within workplaces. Both practices serve critical roles in optimizing workplace dynamics and performance.


HR Management

HR management plays an integral role in any organisation, by helping ensure the right people are recruited for the right roles and providing support to develop employees’ skillsets. From determining compensation levels and employee benefits packages to overseeing performance reviews – HR professionals have a variety of tasks that contribute towards ensuring long-term success. All these processes come together with one ultimate goal - optimizing every business' most valuable asset: its people.

Employee Relations Management

At the heart of successful organisations is a positive, productive relationship with their employees. Employee Relations (ER) management focuses on achieving this by overseeing essential functions such as conflict resolution to manage disputes between staff; grievance handling to ensure employee complaints are addressed effectively; policy development for governing behaviour in the workplace and fostering an engaged culture where employees feel supported and motivated.

If you want to learn more about how you can enhance the relationship between your organisation and its employees you can contact us using the form below.


Christine Sutton
Head Of HR, Nathan Trust

Christine (she/her) is an expert people professional with a wealth of experience across multiple sectors. She holds a BSc Hons in Applied Psychology, and a Masters in Organisational Psychology is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, and is currently undertaking a Professional Doctorate in Organisational Psychology at Birkbeck, University of London. Christine works with clients across the UK, Ireland, and the Isle of Man and has built up a strong consultancy business working with organisations to champion a people-first agenda. 

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