How Did You Navigate Employee Relations Challenges in 2018?


Dana Wilkie By Dana Wilkie December 19, 2018
How Did You Navigate Employee Relations Challenges in 2018?

​Gossip, stress, revenge: HR professionals had lots of delicate situations to handle diplomatically this year. These are the year's most-read employee relations articles from SHRM Online.

No. 1: Workplace Gossip: What Crosses the Line?

Is it gossip to spread the news that Ted and Rachel are getting married before Ted and Rachel have announced it publicly?

Is it gossip to speculate whether Carol in accounting is expecting her second child?

When does gossip cross the line from innocuous, garden-variety conversation to something so potentially hurtful, harmful or liable that companies are within their rights to forbid it?

No. 2: Employee Engagement Surveys: Why Do Workers Distrust Them?
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This is the time of year when many companies are asking workers to fill out surveys that measure how content they are with their jobs, compensation, benefits and managers.

HR departments often find it difficult to get employees to complete these employee engagement surveys. Sometimes, when workers do fill them out and HR discovers a department has a morale problem, it can be just as difficult to get those workers to speak up and explain why they're unhappy. 

And there's a reason for that, employee engagement experts say.

No. 3: What Managers Can Do to Ease Workplace Stress
Study after study—and survey after survey—tell the same story: Modern workers feel stressed out on the job, and the stress is taking a toll on their sleep, health, relationships, productivity and sense of well-being.

Yet at a time when jobs are arguably easier than ever before—because of automation, technology, employee-friendly laws and attractive benefits—why would the modern worker feel so stressed out?

No. 4: What Are an Applicant's Tattoos Telling Potential Employers?

The job candidate sitting in front of you has tattoos covering most of her left arm. Fair or not, you may conclude that the markings paint her as a renegade and, possibly, even as irresponsible or unreliable. Yet a different manager sitting across from the very same woman might see her tattoos as a sign that she's progressive, creative and able to relate to younger customers. That is how differently today's employers view body art when they consider how well-equipped candidates are for the jobs they're trying to fill.

No. 5: The Miserable Middle Managers
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They make dozens of decisions each day, but usually not the big ones that shape a company's future. They're saddled with all the busywork of managing subordinates, yet also answer to higher-ups whose policies they must enforce—even when they don't have a say in making those policies and their direct reports object to them.

They're middle managers, and research finds they are the unhappiest employees at U.S. organizations.

No. 6: Top 10 Ways People Get Revenge at Work
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Revenge. We've all heard the sayings: "Revenge is a dish best served cold." "Success is the best revenge." "Beware the fury of a patient man." "We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged." In the workplace, employees find plenty of ways to get revenge. They spread unflattering rumors about their enemies. They hide their co-worker's possessions. They eat a co-worker's lunch. They delete work from a co-worker's computer.

No. 7: Instead of Trying to 'Handle' a Bad Boss, Avoid Hiring One in the First Place
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Many of us have read about how to deal with "bad bosses" in all their forms—the temperamental, the mercurial, the bullying, the disorganized, the micromanaging.

But can you avoid hiring a bad manager in the first place? Are there telltale signs during the hiring process that can tip someone off to a job candidate who may end up making employees miserable?

There are, say hiring experts.

No. 8: How to Earn the Trust of Your CEO
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CEOs report that their top HR professionals aren't able to use analytics to forecast the company's employment needs, they can't effectively identify new talent pipelines and sources of talent, and they don't link employee planning to business planning. In fact, only 11 percent say their HR team is good at these skills, down from 20 percent three years ago, according to an extensive collaborative research project from Development Dimensions International (DDI), The Conference Board and EY.

"While HR leadership should be in an enviable position, in reality it's losing the race," the study's authors wrote. "Their organizations are changing faster than they are, putting them even farther behind."

No. 9: Just Because Your Workers Feel Loyal Doesn't Mean They'll Stay

Do you wonder if your employees feel loyal to your company? They probably do. Do you wonder if they might jump ship for a better job? More than half of them are thinking about it. A recent survey found that while most workers—in fact, 82 percent—say they feel loyalty toward their employers, more than half—59 percent—would leave given the right job opportunity.

No. 10: Today's Young Worker Is Stressed Out and Anxious
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Claude Silver has seen plenty of young professionals with mental health disorders—especially anxiety—in her work as chief heart officer for VaynerMedia, a digital advertising company based in New York City with locations around the U.S. "I have seen a lot of anxiety with this younger generation just coming out of universities and into the workforce," Silver said. "I've also noticed the number of people who are on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. It's astonishing how many of these young people are medicated."


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