Settle in, friends. This is a long one – but an important conversation to have: how to overcome the most common workplace challenges.
Let’s face it, no matter how perfect the job is or how wonderful the leadership is or how much you love your coworkers, at some point an issue is going to arise. So, how are you going to handle it? Are you going to ignore it? Blow it up to be bigger than it actually is? We don’t advise that. However, we do have some ideas on what you can do.
Check out this list of common workplace challenges and tips on how to work through them:
Lack of communication: At some point, every employee in every organization will have to deal with a lack of communication. It happens more than it should. Ironically, even as workplaces introduce more ways to stay connected and communicate – Slack, Teams, Zoom, etc. – it seems we find ourselves more in the dark. Though we have various ways to keep in contact with our co-workers, we often find ourselves frustrated because wires got crossed, that email detailing the project never got sent, or your manager texted your coworker who never passed along the information. So how do we fix a problem that is as old as time?
- Set The Standard: Resolving communication issues really comes down to making sure everyone is on the same page and has an understanding of – and how to implement – a communication process. Every employer should have a set of baseline standards that detail clear norms and expectations of internal and external communications for leadership and employees. For remote workers, this should cover things like Slack etiquette (don’t message after hours), email etiquette (don’t email afterhours or while someone is on vacation), and set the standard as to when an employee should be available online.
- Make It Safe: Employers should foster a culture that allows employees to speak freely, share ideas, and report issues without fear of retribution. Employees should feel comfortable communicating with leadership as well as their colleagues and should also be open to giving and receiving constructive criticism.
- Consistency: Communication in the workplace should be consistent. Teams working together should have open lines of communication. Leadership should consistently be communicating with the workforce. The way you are communicating should also remain consistent. If you and your team are working on a project, make sure everyone is included on emails discussing it. If it’s known that your company shares new changes and special announcements during all-hands meetings, make sure they stick to that process and NOT being shared via Slack. You’ve set the standard, now apply them every single time. This can’t be a one-and-done effort.
Lack of Professional Development + Training: I recently read a statistic that said 59% of employees claimed they’ve received fewer workplace learning opportunities since the pandemic began, and that most of their skills were self taught. Studies have found that organizations with a strong, comprehensive training program in place retain more top talent. (Hey employers – have you watched our webinar, How to Create a Coaching Culture? We highly recommend it). However, if you find yourself in an organization that checks all the boxes – except this one, what can you do? Here are a few ideas:
- Ask About Training: Go to your manager or human resources and ask if the company has any training opportunities you might have missed – or were overlooked in your onboarding. Stepping up and showing a willingness to learn shows your employer you are dedicated and want to be there. Maybe that will signal to your employer that the need for proper training is essential to keeping top talent. (Psst! Looking for sales training? Check out our friends at Factor 8)
- Seek Out Learning Opportunities. Find out if your company is willing to pay for you to attend workshops or conferences. When approaching your manager about attending, be sure to show them the value in attending the workshop – not just on a personal level, but how it could benefit the organization. Make sure you take notes AND network while you’re there, and share your insight with your manager.
- Find A Mentor: Is there someone in a role you aspire to – in your organization or elsewhere? See if you can mark some time on their calendar to sit down with them to learn more about their role and what it took to get there. (Also – maybe consider #GirlsClub)
- Look For Greener Pastures: At the end of the day, if your organization is unable to provide sufficient training that keeps you motivated, it might be time to find one that does. Find an employer who utilizes on-the-job and ongoing training to help employees develop skills they are interested in.
Staff Conflicts: No matter how hard we try, at some point or another, we are going to have a conflict with a coworker. Though it is easy to have an “it is what it is” attitude or ignore it all together, we can all admit that probably is not the best way to handle it. But the way to resolve this is actually pretty easy: Talk about it.
Hear me out. When it comes to these types of internal conflicts, it is best to discuss it and find ways to move past it. Bring all parties together – maybe include a manager or someone from HR to help keep tempers from rising; identify and discuss the issue; identify a solution; and finally agree to work together to make sure the conflict is resolved.
Once the conflict is resolved, it is important to move on. Don’t dwell on the reason for the conflict, accept that it has been resolved, and move forward.
Work-Life Balance: This is a big, but important workplace challenge. Thanks to digital devices, emails, Zoom meetings – leaving work at work has gotten a lot harder. Add in the fact that more and more people have made their home their office, the lines between work-life balance are very blurred.
If the past couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that a good work-life balance is essential not just for the employee, but for the employer. Employers who encourage a healthy work-life balance have employees who have lower stress levels, are less likely to burnout, and are more loyal as well as more productive. Employers should help foster a healthy work-life balance by being the example. To do so, try these tips:
- Be Mindful: Try to reserve communications with employees to only during work hours – this includes keeping in mind all of your colleagues’ time zones (no scheduling calls for 7am their time or Slacking them at 9pm). If you are sending emails after hours, employees might feel they are expected to respond.
- Talk About It: Have open conversations with employees about what they are looking for when it comes to a work-life balance. Be open and flexible to their needs first, but make sure your expectations are clear.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T: It’s all about respect. Understand that your employees are setting boundaries for a reason, be respectful of them.
Employees looking to find their balance should follow these simple tips:
- Be Reasonable: Set reasonable work hours. There’s no need to burn the midnight oil, but if the majority of your office you often collaborate with works 9 am – 5 pm, having a 5 pm to 1 am schedule probably won’t work. Make sure you are setting hours that are reasonable for your role and work with your colleagues’ schedules.
- Set Your Boundaries: Boundaries are important, but don’t take advantage of them. Be clear with leadership and your peers about your boundaries, but make sure the ones you set are reasonable.
- Use Your Vacation Time: You wouldn’t work for free, would you? Not taking your vacation time is like doing the work for FREE. You’ve earned it and it’s part of your compensation package, so take it! Take a day to mentally refresh; take the time to recuperate from being sick; take a vacation (or staycation) to unplug so you can come back recharged and motivated to work.
Got any more workplace challenges to add? Let us know in the comments!