If you work alongside or with people, you’ve probably faced some nagging issue that has made your work life less than idyllic. No workplace is immune to employee relations issues. Some are a product of work environment and company, while others are related to type of work or industry. While the list of employee issues can be extensive, there are several common concerns that left unchecked can be the death of any positive workplace culture. Don’t despair though! No issue is insurmountable. Peaceful resolutions are included below.

  1. Gossip
    Gossip runs rampant in most workplaces. The intrigue and mystic of gossip provides fuel to those lingering partial truths and turns it into a whole speculative truth. Gossip left unchecked by management, or worse yet, participated in, results in low employee morale and a toxic culture. Nobody likes to feel out of the loop or talked about. Some level of gossip is expected, as people want to know what’s going on in their workplace and to discuss workplace issues. However, it’s time to act if gossip is:

    • Disrupting work from being completed,
    • Hurting employees’ feelings,
    • Damaging relationships, or
    • Causing low employee morale and motivation

    Take a pulse on your workplace. Is there a consistent theme in the gossip? Are you sharing enough information with your workforce? Do employees trust their manager enough to bring up important topics? If employees mistrust their leader or feel that information is lacking, they will fill in the blanks with potential misinformation. If negative behaviour continues after taking any necessary steps to alleviate unwanted gossip from a management perspective, then offer coaching to troublesome employees. The final step is to start a regiment of progressive disciple should the coaching have no positive effect.

  2. Favoritism
    Many workplaces have a “golden child”, a person who seems to be valued more than others as reflected in the assignments they receive, time off requests, different behavioral guidelines to follow, and opportunities afforded to them. In every work-related decision, employees want equal treatment. Favoritism of one employee, without real merit, can lead to serious consequences like widespread resentment, damaged team unity, low motivation, and stifled company growth. The perception of favoritism can be managed through professional behaviours including recognition of hard work from everyone, inclusion of everyone in important matters, and having an open-door policy where employees can come talk to you privately, without judgement, and with a listening ear.
  3. Pay Inequity
    It’s considered a faux pas for salary information to be shared among colleagues. Yet the gossip mill doesn’t break down often and it is human nature to exaggerate such numbers in order to save face. To avoid complaints around raises and pay equity, ensure a standard procedure is in place so everyone knows what it takes to get a raise. Also freely allow employees to discuss their pay with you to make sure they feel heard and considered, especially longer tenured employees as they can feel that newbies are paid better starting in the same wage bracket. This also gives a manager the opportunity to clearly outline the policy regarding confidentiality of pay.
  4. Unmanageable Workload
    In the era of economic recession, budget cuts, and operational and financial efficiency, departments are frequently understaffed. This results in heavy workloads, time spread too thinly and increased stress levels, none of which are conducive to high product quality or employee output. In fact, aside from pay, this is probably the most common employee complaint. Provide employees continuous improvement opportunities to make sure they are able to complete all the tasks assigned to them. Also listen to the reason behind their concerns about workload increase. Many managers are not as attuned to the context as they might think.
  5. Manager Skillset
    A lousy manager can break a department whether it be because of micromanagement, incompetency, or being overbearing. The number one reason employees quit is because of their manager. So, take a look at each department’s needs and then recruit and develop a person that will lead through action and behaviours that inspire staff to perform at their best. Strong leadership can make or break your business.

Need to address employee relations issues in your workplace? Click here for information on our Human Resources Consulting services as well as how we can assist with investigations into organizational culture issues. Contact us to see how we can help.

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