From pay and equity issues to concerns about benefits and communication, employees share their top workplace grievances.
A survey of employees at 2,100 organizations representing various industries identified the top complaints employees have. Consider which of these might be issues in your organization and how you might address them to improve hiring, retention, and engagement.
Higher salaries. Pay is a top area where employees have concerns. While you may not always be able to accommodate requests for raises, it can be helpful to foster a culture where employees feel comfortable asking for pay increases.
Internal Pay Equity. Employees have concerns about issues such as pay compression and differences in pay between new and veteran employees. Increasingly, employers are promoting transparency in salaries and how they are set and changes as a way to document a commitment to equity and fairness.
Benefits programs. Many employees said that their health insurance costs too much, especially prescription drug programs. They are frustrated by employers passing cost increases on to them; they want comprehensive benefits at no extra cost. This can be a tough issue to address. However, it may be useful to start a conversation about benefits. This might include a memo or meeting that details all available benefits, wellness and other perks they’re not using, how benefits decisions are made, etc. Elsewhere, HR might consider partnering with pharmacists, physical therapists, and other staffers/consultants to help employees identify ways to live healthier and reduce medication costs. For instance, you could have a day where staff can bring in a brown bag with all of their medications and do a review with the pharmacist.
Over-management. Employees don’t want to be micromanaged. Instead, they want more of a role in decision making and problem solving. They want to be trusted to do their jobs; and they want to be able to make suggestions about how tasks and projects could be done differently/better.
Better guidelines for merit pay increases. Employees said that compensation should focus more on merit and contributions; and they suggested that systems where all employees receive the same pay raise annually is de-incentivizing and hurts morale. To address this, make sure that all employees understand how your merit and reward systems/programs work. If there isn’t a mechanism to reward people for performance and contributions, consider implementing one—and communicate this with workers.
HR responses to employees. According to respondents, HR needs to be more responsive to their questions and concerns. If possible, an open-door policy can encourage and empower employees to share concerns and ideas or seek your guidance. Otherwise, make sure that workers know the best mechanisms and times to reach you; and respond to inquiries promptly (even if it just means an email letting them know you received their message and will follow up within a specific timeframe).
Among other issues that employees said negatively impact their engagement and satisfaction include: favoritism of certain employees by management; lack of communication/availability on management’s part; heavy workloads; and workplace cleanliness.