Founder of CV-LibraryView Author Profile
In a growing business communication is key, but employees aren't always keen to open up.
In today’s working world, open communication is the key to building a strong company culture. After all, you want your employees to know that their opinions count and that they can approach you with any matters that they wish to discuss.
Yet, recent research from CV-Library suggests that employees still feel nervous about posing certain questions to their boss. For employers, it might be concerning to learn that one in four (22.5%) professionals admitted they actually felt uncomfortable asking some questions.
The study asked UK workers to identify the five questions that they’re too afraid to ask their employer – below I explore these in more detail.
Can I have a pay rise?
Talking about money can be an awkward subject, so it’s unsurprising that 63.6% of employees admitted that they hate asking this question.
It’s completely understandable that approaching the boss for a pay rise is a nerve wracking experience, and naturally your employees will always be concerned that you’ll react badly or that it’ll cause tension. So ideally, you want to make this experience as easy as possible for them.
If faced with this question, it’s a good chance for you to consider rewarding those employees you may have not considered for a pay rise, if they deserve one of course. To avoid employees getting fed up in the first place, you should make sure you schedule in annual pay reviews.
Doing so can help to improve staff retention as any issues with salary can be addressed early, instead of staff looking for a better pay check elsewhere.
Can I work more flexible hours?
With flexible working it’s important to remember that employees are asking these questions for a good reason. Yet, a third (34.6 %) of professionals said that they didn’t like asking about flexible hours.
It’s really important for employees have a good work life balance - it maintains productivity in the workplace and reduces stress levels. Managing childcare can also be problematic around a typical 9-5 schedule, and flexible hours can really help your employees.
More and more companies have flexible working policies in place, so it might be worth considering the benefits of this to your employees and your company. Equally, make sure to emphasise that you are open to any reasonable request around flexible working; you want to encourage an open environment where employees feel they can talk to you.
Can you expand my holiday allowance?
Everyone needs a week break from time-to-time, but it’s difficult for hard working employees if they have in fact used up their holiday allowance. It’s not surprising that 32.7% of professionals felt uncomfortable asking for extra holiday, as again, it could end in awkward feelings if their request is denied.
To combat this, you should consider reviewing holidays annually as part of employees benefit packages or consider the option for staff to purchase extra days.
Should an employee approach you about extra leave and you think that you can feasibly grant their request, and that they deserve it – great! If this is not the case, be sure to offer a fair explanation as to why, so as to avoid any bad feelings.
Can you help me with a task?
It can be awkward for employees to have to ask for help. After all, they don’t want to waste your time or make you think they can’t handle their workload.
If employees are struggling with something it’s essential that they can come to you to seek guidance and support. Especially as you don’t want employees to make a mistake just because they were too scared to ask!
It’s therefore worrying that 27.6% of employees said they hated asking this question. Employees need to feel like they can talk to you and an open door policy where your workers have the ability to ask questions is the best approach.
This should also prevent any issues occurring further down the line. Just ensure that you never shoot down any questions – no matter how obvious, you don’t want to make anyone feel too embarrassed to ask again.
Can I take some time off?
It’s important to listen to employees and consider why they may be asking this question as it’s likely to be a pretty important reason to them if they need to ask in the first place. So pay attention before shutting down their appeal and judge whether you believe the time off to be beneficial to them.
You could consider rewarding hard working employees with complimentary time-off to show that you understand the need for a break. This helps to encourage a strong work-life balance. Moreover, make sure you have a system in place to ensure that employees are taking all the holidays they are entitled to.
In summary, it’s apparent that employees are finding open communication a challenging issue to overcome in the workplace. It’s important to remember that, as a boss you need to ensure that your employees feel like they can confide in you.
Ultimately, the company will benefit from a more honest culture where employees will respect you, consequently increasing staff retention. And from an employee’s perspective, they will feel more confident that their concerns don’t cause any unnecessary tension and that their requests are being listened to.
Lee Biggins is founder and managing director of CV-Library.
The Five Questions Your Employees Are Too Afraid To Ask You