Start-ups urged to address workplace whinging

Employers are being urged to “sit up and take notice” of unhappy workers by reviewing their management style, in light of a new survey revealing the primary causes of workplace whinging.


A survey by training organisation Upskilled reveals a lack of training and recognition are among the top grievances cited by unhappy Australian workers.


Working long hours, and having too much to do, also rated highly among disgruntled staff.


Workers in travel and tourism, media and marketing, and IT are the biggest whingers, the survey shows, while those in farming, event management and the legal profession whinge the least.


Upskilled director Mark Sexty says employers need to sit up and take notice of the issues that make staff miserable.

“Employers may not control every single aspect of the working environment, but they can make sure they are offering adequate training and providing acknowledgement for achievements within the workplace in order to keep staff happy and motivated,” Sexty says.


StartupSmart spoke to the experts to determine how to keep staff happy:


More recognition

Among workers’ wish list for a happier career, 30% of respondents said they want more recognition, while almost half said they want to see a reward system introduced into their jobs.


Stephen Langhammer, an associate director at OfficeTeam, says employee recognition can have long-lasting effects on productivity.


“This should come as good news to employers who can incentivise and retain talented staff members without necessarily having to increase their overheads,” Langhammer says.


Working from home

The survey reveals 27% of respondents would like to be able to work from home, suggesting start-ups should seriously consider it.


Martin Nally, founder of recruitment firm hranywhere, says start-ups have an opportunity to “break the paradigm” of the nine-to-five workday in this regard.


“Don’t be concerned about face time; the amount of time people spend in the office,” Nally says.


“Be more focused on how effective they are and how effective the objectives you set them are… The issue in a start-up business is to set the rules from the get-go.”


Realistic hours

Working long hours was nominated as one of the main reasons for whinging. According to Nally, start-ups need to be flexible to avoid disenchanting overworked staff.


“Flexibility is the new black when it comes to the workplace. Fair Work Australia has a flexibility provision so if staff have young children, they can have flexible arrangements.”


“If you have to ask staff to work overtime, fine, but give them time off during a quieter time for your business.”


Realistic workload

Having too much to do at work rates highly among disgruntled staff, according to the survey, but there are ways to address this without compromising your company’s productivity levels.


Vicki Crowe, managing director of Canon Recruitment, says start-ups often expect too much from their staff, which affects their attitude.


“A lot of start-ups fall into the trap of really pushing their people and expecting them to work at the same level they are, and it gets to the point where staff feel they’re not performing,” she says.


“Often people push employees in small business because you have to multitask, but they push people into areas they’re not comfortable in and their performance goes down.”


“You need to sit down with them and talk about how you can get the best out of them.”


More support and training

In addition to training opportunities and clearly-defined career progression, Nally says the key for business owners is to ensure they remain in close contact with their staff.


“Mentor and coach them and act as a role model – that’s the absolute heartbeat,” he says.


“For a start-up founder, there’s nothing more enjoyable than having people talk as passionately about your business as you do… Share the responsibility as you build and grow your staff.”


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