3 personal changes bosses should make so workers feels comfortable having difficult conversations with them
Employees are feeling more uneasy than normal talking to their managers about problems at work. A recent study from the business advisory firm, Brunswick found US workers are more uncomfortable addressing issues at work now than they were before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help employees feel more comfortable, experts recommend more frequent check-ins, being open about challenges, and developing strategies to retain an inclusive and diverse workforce. Click here for more BI Prime content.
Employees are feeling more uncomfortable bringing issues to their managers now than they did before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In an exclusive research partnership with Business Insider, business advisory firm Brunswick found that 57% of US employees feel comfortable talking to their managers about problems at work compared to 65% of workers before the start of the pandemic. That's a nearly eight percentage point difference. The coronavirus pandemic and looming recession has caused massive anxiety for workers across the country. The total number of initial unemployment claims topped more than 40 million last week, Business Insider previously reported. Plus, employees may want to talk about escalating racial tensions in the US, but may not know how to bring it up. This is especially true after the protests that have ensued following the death of George Floyd, a black man pinned on the ground by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last week. As uncertainty increases, career experts and executives recommend that managers schedule more frequent check-ins, have difficult conversations early on, and prioritize diversity and inclusion. Here's why these three actions will help employees feel more comfortable discussing problems at work. Allow for open lines of communication with employees Instead of managers waiting for workers to come to them with issues, leaders should provide opportunities for employees to come forward and express concerns. For example, PwC uses "virtual" town halls, where employees have a forum to share their issues. Having more frequent check-ins is a crucial strategy for leading remote teams. During these check-ins, it's important for managers to ask, "How can I help?" and "What are your priorities this week." This can help employees communicate any challenges they may be facing. Data from the network hardware company Cisco shows that team leaders who check in with their reports once a week see a 13% increase in team engagement, compared those who check in once a month who see a 5% dip in engagement. Be upfront about any challenges the company is experiencing One way managers can bolster employee trust is through communicating any challenges that come up early on. Executives can expand transparency through sharing their hiring practices, internal processes, or revenue and diversity data. Having this information out in the open can also build a more confident workforce. "If all the information about everything that's going on is freely available, that helps everyone to feel completely on board with decisions," Kevan Lee, the vice president of marketing at the social media company Buffer, wrote in a blog post. "By practicing transparency, we've found that we get much more feedback on our decisions. We try to take in all that feedback and make adjustments based on it." If a company is struggling it's good to be upfront with employees. This may include discussions about potential layoffs or furloughs. Business Insider previously reported that when Airbnb laid off more than 1,000 workers they outlined their decision for cutting certain employees and why they kept the information confidential. Prioritize diversity and inclusion In the workplace, employees of color are often hit hardest by layoffs. During the COVID-19 crisis, this has only worsened. Research from Brunswick shows African American, Asian, and Latinx employees are more hesitant to bring up workplace issues to their manager than their white colleagues. Currently, 47% of black employees feel comfortable talking to their manager about challenges in the workplace compared to 61% of white workers. From a heightened risk of infection to higher unemployment rates — the pandemic has had devastating effects on employees of color. A recent poll from Morning Consult, shows one in 10 black Americans say they personally know someone who's died from COVID-19. Managers can support marginalized workers by expanding benefits at work. If employees feel uncomfortable talking about these issues, it may be necessary to have specific policies in place to help them. This may mean increasing paid sick leave, and offering caregiver benefits to help offset their stress. SEE ALSO: How Americans worry the coronavirus will damage society Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A cleaning expert reveals her 3-step method for cleaning your entire home quickly
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