Employee concerns always affect productivity, positively or negatively. Occasions when their concerns have no effect are rare and possibly non-existent. This is not a psychologically complex reality. Most managers have seen tangible effects of personal, if not professional issues affecting employee performance.
Employees find new boyfriends/girlfriends, get married, receive their college or graduate degrees, or have other wonderful events occur, and their productivity tends to improve. Conversely, people face divorce, foreclosure, the loss of a parent, issues with children, or a variety of other personal issues, and their productivity declines, for at least the short term.
Work-related concerns have an equal – sometimes greater – effect on employee productivity. Even the issues of just one staff member often affect the performance of a team or department, once again for better or worse. Concerns that are satisfied by management for just one team member can often uplift the performance of the whole group. On the down side, should management not address concerns of even one team member, performance of that employee – and possibly the entire team – typically suffers.
The obvious conclusion: Management should address any concerns that employees have to maintain continuity of performance. Certainly, at times, the answers that management must provide are not what the employee wanted. Yet, their concerns were addressed and efforts made to resolve these issues.
Management sometimes maintains that they didn’t address employee concerns because they were unaware that one or more issues existed. While this statement may be true, it is imperative that management stay aware of employee concerns so they can address them before small issues become major performance detractors. How can they do this? Just ask. As long as your staff has the security of knowing that they will not be punished or criticized for being truthful about their concerns, they normally will be honest – sometimes brutally honest. But, that is good news. Simple surveys or requests for suggestions or concerns have proven to be sufficient.
Surveys indicate that the following issues are the most common employee concerns in a cross section of all industries. These are not listed in any particular order of importance as people have different concerns when in different situations.
It is important to remember that these items are concerns, not necessarily complaints. Senior management in most companies regularly satisfies these and other employee concerns. This compilation of many statistics, however, does display the most common items of interest to the general workforce.
Asking your staff to advise you of their concerns gives management the opportunity to address issues of importance to their employees. Studies indicate that addressing employee concerns – regardless of the answers – is the most important activity.
Management displays their sincerity, their own concern, and their respect for their workforce. Making an honest attempt to address employee concerns typically results in improved staff performance.