The Break Room Code of Silence

How can I get employees to come forward in a straightforward manner to discuss their concerns about the work unit?  Some pout and complain to peers but in meetings never speak up. I think the behavior leads to morale issues and encourages similar behavior in others.

Even if there are plenty of opportunities to raise concerns with you about the work unit, some employees will remain silent, and seek to air their frustration with coworkers in gripe sessions.  Doing so is a dependable way to gain sympathy, bond with peers, or join with others who do the same thing. Some of this is not harmful, and most workplaces experience some of it. A problem arises when this becomes a primary way of venting frustrations. These employees are keeping valuable information from you that could improve the efficiency and productivity of the organization or work unit. Encourage employees and meet with them one-on-one during the year. If permissible, consider adding “ability to share information and concerns” as part of their review, and establish standards for “outstanding” and “unsatisfactory” performance on this matter. Don’t forget to consider a referral to the EAP if this problem isn’t resolved.  With assistance, you will guide employees toward the new behaviors you need them to acquire.



Adapted from UTEAP Frontline Supervisor

Categories: Managers

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