I received a message from a business owner asking to meet. It sounded like she was drowning in the chaos of a frustrated workforce, so we found a time to connect quickly.
I went into the meeting with my bag of magical solutions to the issues I expected her to share - dealing with a disappointing year for the business, employee turnover creating workload challenges, etc.
However, as we dove into the heart of the matter, a surprising revelation unfolded for me.
We weren't there to talk about the frustrations the team was experiencing. The owner was the one frustrated with her own team.
I apparently brought the wrong magic bag to help.
Her list of frustrations included the team not managing to expectations during the year, employees not coming into the office as much as she would like, and a perceived lack of trust from the team.
I admit - I can be slow to catch on at times, but none of these frustrations are specific to this one business - or necessarily new to any organization. Over the last five years, workers have been walking away from bad jobs but also walking towards new opportunities and new ways of working. Throw in a pandemic during that time, and it seems like the only thing that both workers and leaders can agree on is that work sucks.
Improving this situation also doesn't require new trends or perks, but rather:
Effective leadership. The need for greater connection with employees is obvious, but many organizations still fail to to ensure that their managers have the skills to have productive, meaningful and inspiring conversations with employees. Show your team you've got these covered, and watch the magic happen.
Transparent communication. Give your managers the space to have regular check-ins, team meetings, and platforms for sharing ideas. Transparent and open communication channels are paramount to bridge the gap with frustrations on either side.
Embrace flexibility and autonomy. The traditional 9-to-5 model may no longer be conducive to optimal productivity. Offering flexibility in work hours and empowering employees with a degree of autonomy can boost morale and job satisfaction.
Invest in employee well-being initiatives. Mental health and well-being have emerged as critical components of a thriving workplace. Implementing wellness programs, mental health resources, and fostering a culture that prioritizes self-care will contribute to a healthier and more resilient workforce.
Leaders navigating the complexities of a frustrated workforce - and their own frustrations - don't have to look far for magical solutions. Leveraging these areas can help reduce frustrations for all while building an adaptive, supportive, and resilient work environment.