Sep 28, 2017

5 questions employees are too afraid to ask (and how to answer them)

Communication is the key to creating a more honest culture and an environment in which there's mutual respect between staff members and employers. However, recent research from CV-Library reveals there are certain questions employees are too afraid to ask their boss.

In the hope of increasing your staff’s satisfaction and retention levels, here are the top five questions UK professionals are nervous to ask and how you can address them to make your workforce feel more comfortable.

“Can I have a promotion?”

Many successfully growing businesses recognise that development opportunities are the key to staff retention. But simply divvying out more responsibilities and training opportunities isn’t enough. To avoid the frustrating dynamic of making staff feel undervalued despite their newly found duties, promotions are a must.

However, 34.6% of UK professionals are scared to ask “can I have a promotion?”, with many afraid of appearing too ambitious. To ensure your workforce is comfortable enough to broach this topic, you must endeavour to maintain an open dialogue with workers about their progress.

A simple way to do this is by scheduling in a regular one-to-one to see what they have on their plates, how they are handling their workload, and their general merriment. Not only will employees become more comfortable talking about awkward topics like promotions, you will be able to easily recognise if your employees rightly deserve a promotion, too.

“Can I have a pay rise?”

Like promotions, money talks are still considered a taboo subject by many. And while employees might discuss their earnings amongst each other, it’s still an awkward talking point between worker and employer, with 63.6% fearing to ask the dreaded question: can I have a pay rise?

But if anything this should be the other way around, with employees feeling able to talk to their employer about their salary: a fundamental aspect of their role.

To make sure your employees feel comfortable approaching this subject, schedule in annual pay reviews. This ensures any issues with salary can be addressed in good time, to avoid staff looking for better pay checks elsewhere.

“Can I work more flexible hours?”

Recent research suggests that a massive 87% of the UK’s full-time workforce either currently work flexibly or would like to do so.  But some employers are failing to embrace the flexible working revolution, refusing to budge from the traditional nine-to-five work day. As a result, it is unsurprising that 32.7% of UK workers are afraid to ask their employers if they can work more flexible hours.

But flexible working has a range of significant benefits for both you and your staff, with work/life balance and productivity leading the way. So, do not underestimate the lure of this seemingly frivolous workplace perk.

Since working nine to five is no longer a way to make a living, ensure that you are open to reasonable requests around flexitime and familiarise yourself with the process of making a statutory application. You are likely to increase your staff satisfaction and retention levels as a result.

“Can you help me with a task?”

Over a quarter (27.6%) of employees are too embarrassed to ask more senior members of staff for help as they do not want to raise suspicion about their ability to perform or waste your time. But this can do more harm than good for both parties.

Embracing an open-door policy where employees are able to ask you anything, no matter how obvious or awkward the questions may seem, is the key to avoiding potential issues with employees’ workloads, stress levels and business deadlines.

Plus, if one worker feels like they cannot ask you something, it is likely others feel the same. Therefore, keep an open door to sidestep a potentially uncomfortable working environment for all.

“Can I take some time off?”

Some businesses are taking the plunge to offer their staff unlimited holiday entitlement. And yet, while these companies trust their employees to manage their workload and structure their time efficiently, 26.4% of UK professionals are still afraid to ask their employers for time off work.

Be prepared to listen to your employees’ holiday requests and bear in mind that there is likely to be an important reason behind it - especially if a day’s leave comes out of a capped allowance.

That is not to say you should always ask the reason for leave before you grant the holiday though. Trust that your hardworking employees are taking all the holidays they are entitled to and for the right reasons, and you’ll find that your staff will be able to talk to and confide in you more easily.

About the author

Laura Slingo is Digital Copywriter for the UK’s leading independent job board, CV-Library.


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