Want to make a positive difference in your business in 2017? Examining its internal culture may yield some surprising opportunities for improvement.
The 2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace, a study conducted by HR research house Reventure, found that one in 10 employees had experienced verbal abuse or bullying in the workplace, and 18 per cent had experienced conflict with their manager.
In addition, a fifth of workers admitted to having experienced levels of negativity in their workplace, and 14 per cent said they had experienced health concerns – mental or physical – as a direct result of their working environment.
“2016 has seen some really worrying results for workers and workplaces throughout the country,” says Dr Lindsay McMillan OAM, who led the research.
“Our research has shown clearly that too many Australian workers are experiencing negative incidences at work and are worried about the future of their job.
“Couple this with issues such as the gender pay gap, high levels of underemployment and youth unemployment, flat wage growth [and] continued reports of worker exploitation and the situation is dire.”
So, as an employer, what can you do if you discover that your employees are among those experiencing a less than desirable workplace?
1. Convey your plans
The survey findings suggest that conveying your vision for the business, and your employees’ role within it, will go a long way to giving your staff job satisfaction, given that nearly three quarters of workers (72 per cent) are seeking meaning and purpose in their work.
Understanding the importance of the tasks they are doing, and how they fit into the overall company, may sound really simple, but this can have a big impact on staff confidence, morale and motivation.
2. Evaluate yourself as a leader
Next, take a good, honest look at yourself as their leader. If conflict is arising between yourself and employees, swallow your pride and consider your own leadership skills.
According to the survey results, 35 per cent of workers feel that the most stressful aspect of their job is not long hours or difficult customers, but poor leadership.
3. Recognise achievement
Another very simple and, importantly, cost-effective means of developing a healthy culture is simply to recognise achievements and good work from your employees.
Of the workers responding to the Reventure survey, less than half (47 per cent) admitted to receiving regular praise for a job well done.
4. Give employees the skills and tools to succeed
Could an unmotivated or unhappy workforce be the result of a lack of training? According to Reventure, just 34 per cent of workers feel they receive the professional development and coaching needed to succeed in their position.
5. Technology is not the solution to everything
While one of the core facets of technology is to improve efficiencies and boost productivity in every aspect of our lives, for workers, technology can be a source of endless stress.
Unsurprisingly, the majority (65 per cent) agree that new and emerging technologies are drastically changing the way they work. However, while you could be forgiven for thinking these changes are for the better, 46 per cent of workers feel technology leaves them ‘always on’ and never able to enjoy downtime or rest.
This is especially true of younger generations, with the majority of Millennials (54 per cent) feeling this pressure of connectedness.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.