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Handling key employee issues from Jason Carney on HR.com

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HR.com covered Jason Carney’s tips on how to handle top employee issues and what you can do to solve them.

 

How to Handle 3 Hot Button Employee Issues
by Papandrea, Dawn
Thursday, 01/17/2013 11:14 am

In a tough economy, in which downsizing is the norm and bonuses and salary raises are scarce, employee morale is a big issue for HR professionals. No matter what’s going on in your industry, however, growing pains are a normal for a growing organizations, assures Jason Carney, director of human resources for WorkSmart Systems, a human resources outsourcing firm with more than 300 clients. However, by paying attention to the vibe around the office, and not dismissing it as idle watercooler chatter, you can nip potential problems before they grow into larger issues that affect productivity and employee retention rates.

Here, Carney suggests listening closely for the following gripes that can quickly spread like wildfire through your staff.

Employees aren’t feeling “the love.”

It’s easy to feel undervalued when it’s not in the budget to hand out pay raises, however, communications between management and staff is equally as important for keeping morale high. “Poor management skills end up being the root of most employee frustrations,” says Carney. “This leads to low job satisfaction, and employees that are not motivated,” he says.

It’s up to HR managers to help ensure that supervisors are properly trained in employee relations, specifically to pay attention to the needs of their staffers. It’s vital to have frequent conversations about progress, and ask the employee to share any concerns or suggestions. “Once employees feel they are more comfortable saying whatever it may be, knowing they have that open line of communication is 70 percent of the battle,” says Carney.

The increased workload is overwhelming.

If an employee feels like he’s taken on the jobs of four people (often without any extra compensation), that’s a big issue, says Carney. The first thing you need to do is take a close look at the workload of employees who are working well beyond the 40-hour work week, and see if there’s anything that can be done to scale it back, says Carney. Are there duties that can be delegated to other staffers or departments? Is the employee using his work day efficiently? Would bringing in some intern or entry-level support help? In the interim, be sure to remind managers to give top performers lots of verbal praise so they don’t feel their extra efforts are going unnoticed.

I have no one to go to with a workplace problem.

Again, says Carney, communication is vital for employees who are having a conflict with a co-worker, for instance. “Management needs to understand employee conflicts and deal with them before they get out of control.” In fact, he points out, gripes and bad attitudes can also spark complaints to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which have reached record numbers each of the past two years in 37 states.

One way to help employees open up about issues is to utilize employee surveys. “They give employees opportunity to be heard even if they’re anonymous.” Just be sure that issues and concerns are addressed in a timely manner.

What are some strategies that you’ve used to boost employee morale, or defuse a volatile workplace situation?

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