Careers at UMass Amherst

Employee Relations Manager (Hybrid)

Apply now Job no: 518230
Work type: Staff Full Time
Location: UMass Amherst
Department: Human Resources
Union: Non-Unit Exempt
Categories: Human Resources

About UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth's flagship campus, is a nationally ranked public research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University sits on nearly 1,450-acres in the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, and offers a rich cultural environment in a bucolic setting close to major urban centers. In addition, the University is part of the Five Colleges (including Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College), which adds to the intellectual energy of the region.


Job Summary

Under general direction of the Sr. Director for HR Partnerships & Labor Relations, the Employee Relations Manager (ERM) oversees the university’s employee relations policies and practices, including the performance management infrastructure, and plays a key role in managing workplace climate concerns. The ERM will work proactively with Vice Chancellors, Deans, Department Heads, supervisors, managers, and other campus leaders to manage individual performance management concerns and build sound employee relations practices and processes within a heavily unionized environment. The ERM partners closely with campus HR Business Partners (HRBPs) and labor relations professionals and will provide advice and consultation, identify alternative courses of action to solve issues and effectively implement. The ERM will handle complex HR issues, employee complaints and investigations and work collaboratively with HRBP’S, Labor Relations, and Business Unit leaders to implement significant changes.


Essential Functions

  • Strategic Performance Management Oversight, including:
    • Develop and/or refine employee relations practices and performance management processes to support employee engagement, growth, and accountability.
    • Work with campus leaders, managers, and supervisors to develop effective, individualized performance management plans to address specific needs.
    • Partner with labor relations professionals on discipline and grievance matters.
    • Manage staff evaluation and feedback cycles to develop and execute strategies that leverage managers and leaders to build a strong organizational culture.
  • Represent the Office of Human Resources and/or the University of Massachusetts Amherst in system-wide discussions related to performance management systems.
  • Workplace Climate Management, including:
    • Assess and enhance overall climate within units, using a variety of techniques including traditional investigations, appreciative inquiry, and employee engagement sessions.
    • Remain current on employment law and compliance and participate as required in MCAD and EEO issue resolution.
    • Build and maintain personal credibility to effectively provide advice and counsel. Provide proactive guidance and coaching in bringing front-line employee relations and labor relations matters to successful resolution.
    • Mediate conflicts between and among supervisors and employees.
    • Partner with HR Business Partners and unit-level HR professionals to address complex or widespread climate concerns.
    • Advise HR leadership on internal trends, hotspots, barriers, and other workplace climate concerns. Use data and analysis to articulate information as appropriate.
    • Facilitate large and small group workshops aimed at advancing positive workplace relationships.
    • Assess climate-related learning gaps and development needs within units and, in partnership with Workplace Learning Development and/or Labor Management Workplace Education, deliver and/or coordinate the delivery of appropriate training.
    • Make and implement recommendations that effectively resolve problems, by using judgment consistent within standards, policies, and procedures supporting Federal, State, and local employment law.
    • Maintain membership in regional and national academic and professional HR organizations with a focus on leading, advancing and influencing the management of HR and widespread use of industry best practices.


Other Functions

  • Perform other duties as assigned.


Minimum Qualifications (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Education, Experience, Certifications, Licensure)

  • Bachelor’s degree and more than 5 years of related experience in employee relations, mediation, or professional coaching.
  • Knowledge of federal, state, and local employment law including Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Labor Standards Act and federal leave policies and programs. Knowledge of employee rewards programs in the context of employee relations.  
  • Ability to interpret and develop employment policies and procedures.
  • Experience with complex workplace dynamics.
  • Ability to be a collaborative HR professional and team player.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work in a confidential environment.
  • Exceptional levels of professionalism and tact.


Preferred Qualifications (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Education, Experience, Certifications, Licensure)

  • Master’s degree in management, organizational development, conflict resolution or related field or J.D.
  • PHR or SPHR certification.
  • Experience working in higher education or the public sector.
  • Extensive training and/or experience in alternative dispute resolution techniques.
  • Ability to resolve issues in a composed, professional, and confidential manner.
  • Ability to cultivate influential and credible relationships with employees and stakeholders across the campus.
  • Experience in creating or managing performance management processes.
  • Experience with employee engagement methodology and implementation of best practice programs.
  • Experience working with labor groups in a unionized environment.


Physical Demands/Working Conditions

  • Typical office environment.


Work Schedule

  • Monday - Friday, 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM.
  • This position has the opportunity for a hybrid work schedule, which is defined by the University as an arrangement where an employee’s work is regularly performed at a location other than the campus workspace for a portion of the week. As this position is non-unit, it is subject to the terms and conditions of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees Non-Unit (Professional/or Classified) Employee Personnel Policy.

Salary Information

Level 30

Exempt Hiring Ranges


Special Instructions to Applicants

Please apply online with your resume, cover letter, and contact information for three (3) professional references. Search to remain open until filled.


UMass Amherst is committed to a policy of equal opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, age, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, military status, or genetic information in employment, admission to and participation in academic programs, activities, and services, and the selection of vendors who provide services or products to the University.  To fulfill that policy, UMass Amherst is further committed to a program of affirmative action to eliminate or mitigate artificial barriers and to increase opportunities for the recruitment and advancement of qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans.  It is the policy of the UMass Amherst to comply with the applicable federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations concerning equal opportunity and affirmative action.

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