No workplace is perfect.
The places you really want to be are, for the most part, the business that makes the fewest mistakes within their workplace culture.
It’s not high pay or fancy perks or TVs and table tennis in breakrooms. It’s being treated like an important piece of the enterprise, no matter a worker’s standing in the corporate pecking order.
Numerous workplace surveys identify the same employee gripes over and over again. Thus, you could argue the best workplaces are the ones that manage to avoid many of the common pitfalls made by the typical boss.
To tip off the Register’s 10th annual Top Workplaces program, I reviewed numerous surveys of workplace characteristics that annoy employees and offer these 13 troublesome traits a great employer must minimize — if not totally avoid.
1. My bad boss
The top reason people quit a job is they’re unhappy with their immediate supervisor.
Being a direct supervisor isn’t easy work. And too often these bosses are sandwiched between demanding overlords and stressed-out worker bees. Sadly, mid-level managers often don’t get the training or support needed to provide satisfactory help for frontline workers.
Nobody expects the boss to be their best friend, but there are certain expectations that the person who guides your day-to-day work life has some people skills and a reasonable view on reasonable workloads.
2. Negative vibe
Nothing is more painful than having to drag yourself into a work environment where everyone is angry, upset – or worse.
Work is rarely a celebration. Economic ups and downs, no less an employer’s own success pattern, will drive a good deal of the corporate psyche.
But quality employers should be in touch with internal morale and actively managing the pulse of the workforce.
3. Poor values
Being forced to do work that conflicts with your own morality – even industry rules or state or federal law – is extremely taxing.
Some workers have the nerve to stand up to institutions operating in the gray area. Other folks choose to work through these morality challenges, often fearing dismissal if they speak up.
Yes, many employers have corporate mission statements that sound saintly. But all too often various financial pressures (if not, built-in dishonesty) force poor managers to cheat.
4. No passion
Most workers want to be energized by their employment. Let’s face it, your job is part of your persona.
So, it’s dispiriting to work at a place where energy is low and expectations are limited to just getting through the pile in front of you. And loud, angry negativity 24/7 is a huge turn-off.
Nobody expects leadership to be full-time cheerleaders but having well-crafted corporate plans – and providing encouragement for the staff – are meaningful and profitable exercises.
5. Unfair pay
Most people probably think they’re underpaid, but what’s more annoying are inequitable pay scales.
Misdirected salaries can be tied to everything from poor performance evaluation practices to misguided views of a worker’s value to a misunderstanding (or ignoring) industry norms.
One curious trend of late is that many employers who’ve been stingy with raises now see their folks departing and “affordable” replacements hard to find.
6. Lack of recognition
Many academic studies suggest pay raises generate only limited increases in worker productivity.
But a few kind words – frequently shared with workers – can be far more valuable. And of course, they are cheaper.
It’s amazing that many bosses haven’t figured out the value of a simple “thank you” note to their staffs.
7. No shot at advancement
Not every worker wants to move up the corporate ladder or is qualified to do so.
But most employees want to know there’s a shot at professional advancement if and when an opportunity comes around.
Nothing is more defeating for a work group’s morale than knowing bosses are convinced the skills needed to increase performance don’t lie within the workers doing the current chore.
It’s interesting how many employers won’t even interview internal candidates for key jobs when, at a minimum, that process shows respect for the current staff – if not revealing a roadmap for success for whoever is hired.
8. No challenges
Yes, there are plenty of positions where it’s basically the trade of a paycheck in return for chores accomplished.
But creative bosses can be inspiring to
even those toiling in mundane chores.
For starters, even simple tasks at the lowest levels need to be done well. And secondly, how many great ideas have come from low-level workers who see the company – or the product line – from a completely different vantage point?
9. Poor communication
Too many worker bees, no less middle managers, complain they are often in the dark about major corporate initiatives.
It’s not that the big bosses want to keep kept secrets – rather many institutions simply cannot communicate well up and down the corporate food chain.
Not only does poor communication frustrate almost everyone, it often limits a company’s ability to execute on its most important initiatives.
10. Slow pace
In an age where industries are created – or crushed – seemingly in a matter of months, institutional resistance to change can be a morale killer.
Whether innovation is being driven by higher-ups or inspiration comes
in from the field, wait-and-see attitudes to new products or novel approaches kill innovation.
Yes, change is difficult. But it must be embraced and actively managed in a business era where nothing can be taken for granted.
11. Political incorrectness
Even the workplace isn’t a spin-free zone.
It’s was tough enough keeping employees in line with various legal limits on what’s appropriate workday discourse before politics became a full-contact sport. No boss wants to stifle worker’s speech but no leader wants to referee loud in-house debates about national policy either. It’s a daunting headache in industries where political change could alter business patterns.
At the same time, a proactive employer could make workers feel uncomfortable and muzzled … not good for productivity or esprit de corps.
12. Dying industry
Sometimes no matter the skill of top management and staff, certain businesses are destined to suffer tough times.
Working in an industry with a limited upside is a challenging for all, especially when an obvious part of the recipe for success is definitely trimming business lines and employees.
Preventing dire prospects from morphing into a bunker mentality is no easy task. But it’s a necessary managerial effort to keep any financially stressed organization alive.
13. Grass is always greener
Some people can never be happy.
Some organizations suffer from permanent inferiority complexes.
Obviously, not everyone can be the corporate star … or every company the industry leader.
But acknowledging reality does not have to be a painful process. Without inspirational leadership – and a staff willing to believe — companies and their workers are likely doomed to back of the pack.