Employee complaints have nothing to do with your personal relationships, right?
As it turns out, the top things we complain about in our working relationships are eerily similar to the most common issues we experience with our significant others. This makes sense when you stop and think about it.
Both our personal and professional relationships are built around agreements we entered into willingly. Happily, even!
But over time, as the novelty begins to wear off, these same relationships can leave us feeling confused, unhappy, disengaged, and disillusioned. Eventually, we may even start to wonder if we made the right choice, or if we should consider leaving.
If you research top marriage/relationship stressors, you’ll see there are a few key issues that keep rising to the top. Things like communication, money, and feeling unappreciated.
On the other hand, if you research common workplace/employer complaints, you’ll find that the top concerns are things like communication, money, and feeling unappreciated.
Wait a second. That sounds a little too familiar.
Now that we know we all have astonishingly similar needs in our professional and personal lives, let’s take a closer look at what people need from these relationships and how we— as good employers, employees, and partners— can help keep the love alive.
Complaint #1: Communication
Or shall we say lack of it?
According to one employee survey, 91% of respondents thought their managers/supervisors lacked basic communication skills. And according to most married people, their spouses lack these skills as well.
When communication breaks down, trust breaks down, and so do relationships. Make communication a constant priority. Keep the lines of communication open and provide more information rather than less. Keeping people in the loop makes them feel not just informed but valued.
Communication at work and at home can be stressful. Here are some tips to make sure your constructive conversation doesn’t turn into a disastrous disagreement.
Be courteous: Never just launch into a sensitive conversation. Schedule it ahead of time or, at the very least, ask if this is a good time.
Be calm: Resist having discussions in the heat of the moment. Communicating when emotions are high can cause conversations to spin out of control. Bring up topics in a neutral environment
Be careful: Once your words are out there, they can’t be put back. Always try to communicate in a way that is honest, but also fair and kind.
Good communication won’t fix everything, but it can fix a whole heck of a lot. The better you get at it, the better all of your relationships will be.
Complaint #2: Money
It’s no secret that couples fight about money. Financial strain puts huge pressure on individuals and families, as many people have different ideas about how money should be spent and how much is enough.
The same is true at work. Your boss may think you make plenty of money, especially considering how much the company spends on payroll each month. Meanwhile, you may feel like you’re not being adequately compensated based on your job description, hours worked, or what your colleagues are making. More often than not, each person is looking at finances from a completely different point of reference.
Money is often a deal-breaker, for both marriages and employment relationships. Getting to the root of the problem isn’t always easy, but ignoring it will only make matters worse. Talk about money early and often, during the recruitment (or dating) phase, and after you’re employed (or hitched).
Complaint #3: Lack of appreciation
Feeling under-appreciated is a top reason people stray from their relationships— and leave their jobs. When appreciation is low, conflict is high. However, when people feel valued and appreciated, they are much more willing to be flexible and give back.
Recognition doesn’t need to be fancy, complicated, or public. It can be as easy as saying thank you, asking how you can be supportive, or doing something nice for someone.
Beware of taking your employees for granted. Far too many managers reward top performing employees by simply dumping more work on their plates. This can happen at home as well. Over time, the appreciation drops off while the expectations continue to rise. Before you know it, you’ve gone from “Thanks so much for doing that!” to “Why isn’t this done already?”
Instead of increasing demands, try increasing incentives. Did your team come through on a big project deadline? Give them an afternoon off. Have a partner who’s working late? Pop that dinner in the oven yourself! And open a nice bottle of wine while you’re at it. A little recognition can go a very long way toward making people feel happy and engaged.
Happy, engaged employees and significant others are more likely to stick around, not because they have to, but because they want to. And isn’t that really what we’re all looking for?
At Raffa Financial, we provide long-lasting benefits strategies to take care of your business and your employees. Located in Rockville, Maryland, we identify and manage complex employee benefits challenges for businesses all over the greater Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC area.
Photo by Roman Samborskyi