Today’s organizations are faced with various types of problems regarding their employees. Among these problems, managers are mostly challenged by threats to their workers’ physical and mental health.
Many common workplace problems are related to or caused by stress. Occupational stress is a problem recognized by the World Health Organization that affects not only the employees’ performance but their mental and physical wellness as well.
Employers should take these common problems seriously instead of regarding them as petty complaints. If these problems are not dealt with promptly, it can poison the workplace and negatively affect the employees’ performance.
Here are the most common problems that workers face at work and the ways that both managers and employees can deal with them:
- Improper Behavior. Drinking at work or other improper working behavior affects not just the employees’ performance, but the image of the organization as well. It connotes a lack of discipline and dedication and lowers the credibility of the whole workplace. Alcoholism—a chronic disease affecting one in every 13 adults in America or nearly 14 million Americans—among employees may lead to poor performance and workplace accidents. Managers encountering improper behavior should swiftly act to correct the behavior and refer the employee to the Employee Assistance Program, where they can be assessed, counseled, and (if needed) seek out expert advice such as alcohol rehab.
- Communication problems. Effective communication is a key to an organization’s success and vital to operating efficiently. Among the top communication problems in the workplace are the lack of follow through, employees’ indifference, failure to disseminate communication, communicating false information, poor listening skills, misinterpretations, communication barriers, and lack of consistency and standards. All these problems cut the flow of a sound organization. For example, managers must insist that during a meeting, employees give it their undivided attention. In addition to fostering these communication problems, sending emails or texts during a colleague’s presentation shows disrespect, which also can create communication problems.
- A particularly ineffective and inappropriate form of communication is gossip. Talking about fellow employees and spreading rumors are guilty pleasures that can negatively affect relationships and do not, in any way, contribute to productivity. It is a time suck and hurtful if it gets back to the subject. Even if it doesn’t, a Stanford study found that participation in office-related gossip may affect the work performance of as many as 16 percent of employees. To prevent this, managers should officially ban gossip and provide a way for constructive criticism of others and dispute resolution without fear of retaliation.
- The Workplace Bullying Institute defines workplace bullying as abusive conduct that humiliates, threatens, or intimidates a worker, causing a negative impact on the victim’s morale and work performance. Based on WBI’s 2017 survey, 19 percent of adults experienced abuse. About 25 percent of those (or 5 percent overall) said the abuse never stopped. Of the remaining three-quarters, 54 percent said the abuse only stopped when they left the job (quit, transferred, or fired), and 36 percent when the perpetrator was punished or left (quit or fired). The final 10 percent stopped when the employer established a positive process and conducted “credible investigations”. Such an official “anti-bullying” policy is necessary to maintain a healthy office environment where bullies are not tolerated.
- Aside from sexual harassment—which 81 percent of women have reportedly experienced in their lifetime—other forms of harassment in the workplace exist. Harassment can take the form of a verbal or physical act directed at mental or physical differences, sexual identity, race, or religion. To stop harassment in the workplace, employees should file a report with their human resource department or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As with bullying, employers should immediately take action to thoroughly investigate all harassment charges and establish a policy to deal with violations. The proper and speedy handling of harassment cases in the workplace can strengthen employees’ confidence in the organization.
- Harassment and discrimination are two different things. Harassment is a pattern of unwanted behavior to make a person feel intimidated or physically or verbally threatened, usually by fellow employees. Workplace discrimination happens when an employer does not treat a worker fairly in regards to hiring, salary, benefits or promotion because of age, race, sexual orientation, or disability, among others. Discrimination is present when a job or promotion is denied to employees for reasons that do not pertain to their capabilities or work experiences. Employees can protect themselves by equipping themselves with knowledge about discrimination and laws against discrimination and acting upon them swiftly. For managers, preventing discrimination requires following the law and having a clear set of rules to protect against any holes or blind spots in the law.
- Low motivation and job satisfaction. According to the latest survey of the Conference Board, —an unbiased, nonprofit source of business trends and statistics—51 percent of employed Americans are satisfied with their jobs, but most workers are not satisfied with the professional development they get from their jobs. When employees’ skills aren’t kept up to date with training and professional accreditation, it can result in low motivation and productivity, reduce job satisfaction, and lead to an organization losing talented workers. Even if they stay, they will be less valuable employees. Honest feedback—praise when warranted—also can improve job satisfaction and reassure employees that they are valued. If work is not exemplary, managers need to make their expectations clear so employees can improve their work. Finally, correct your employees’ mistakes privately but give out compliments publicly to keep your employees motivated and satisfied overall.
- Performance issues. Among the other things affecting employees’ productivity are performance issues: poor scheduling, absenteeism, leaving work without permission, misusing sick leave, missing deadlines, and low quality of work. The causes of poor performance are varied, too: trouble at home, drug or alcohol addiction, unresolved problems with fellow employees, or dissatisfaction with work. The best way to deal with an employee’s poor performance issues is to call it to their attention, give feedback, listen to what they are saying, and see if between the two of you a solution can be found. Maybe therapy, conflict resolution or substance abuse rehab can be offered or facilitated.
- Poor job fit. When a job and an employee aren’t a good fit, it benefits no one. A job for which they are not qualified, by experience or temperament, can cause an employee physical and mental exhaustion. For the employers, it costs time and money to have an employee with low productivity and morale. Managers must make their screening processes more effective to better match job applicants with open positions, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and—given the shrinking pool of qualified but unemployed job seekers—possibly offer job training.
While managers deal with these sorts of problems almost every day, they need to be handled respectfully and effectively in order to maintain the workplace’s professional environment and the employees’ welfare. Maintaining a good working environment can boost their job satisfaction and increase efficiency, dedication, and commitment.
A healthy working environment is one where employees can show and contribute their skills to improving their organizations’ growth. The opposite, an unhealthy working environment, demoralizes employees and stunts their growth, leading to poor performances by the workers and the organization.
Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.