December 10, 2018

What employees said about the workplace in 2018, and what that means for you

This year, we coached thousands of employees through the situations they were dealing with at work. We spoke with people at startups, mid-sized companies, and large enterprise organizations. We spoke with marketers, engineers, and account executives. We spoke with those who are new to the workforce, those who manage large teams, and everyone in between.

Now we’re here to share what we’ve learned, and how HR teams can take actionable steps to support employees in 2019.


Many employees would consider leaving over having a difficult conversation.

From Bravely Pro Angela:

The problem
People don’t consider going forward and having a conversation with their manager, colleague, or direct report when they’re dealing with something difficult. I see two main reasons for this: first, they equate ‘conversations’ with ‘conflict, and second, they don’t know how to communicate without making their problem even bigger.

The solution
Conflict doesn’t need to be a bad thing! It’s important to show employees that confrontation can be positive if approached the right way. Difficult conversations aren’t bad — on the contrary, they should be encouraged. If conflict is particularly pervasive, you might think about offering a mediation resource to help people work through their issues. Giving people opportunities to role play and “practice” before they engage in a tough conversation can be incredibly helpful as well.

HR is misunderstood (and underutilized as a result).

From Bravely Pro Maureen:

The problem
Employees seem to think that HR exists to ‘put out fires’ as opposed to helping them work through issues productively. It’s a theme we see often: people don’t know when or why they should go to their HR business partners, so they don’t take full advantage of the team as a resource.

The solution
This seems simple, but visibility is really important! Every all-hands meeting is an opportunity for the HR team to make their presence known and remind employees that they’re available as a resource. During an employee’s first week at the company, they should spend one-on-one time with their HR Business Partner, and continue to meet with them on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. “Office hours” are also great way for HR teams to encourage employees to come forward while keeping things casual and low-pressure.

People don’t know how to resolve their issues with their managers.

From Bravely Pro Michelle:
The problem

People forget that their managers are people too. Through role playing, I try to help individual contributors arrive at a place where they can think of their relationship with their boss as a partnership.

The solution
Start by emphasizing (company wide) the importance of the manager-direct report relationship and the fact that it’s a two-way street. Both managers and their direct reports need to put effort into it! Specifically, spend time talking about communication styles and the fact that they differ from person to person. Every manager should feel comfortable asking their direct report how they like to receive feedback so that they can communicate in a way that’s effective.

The first 90 days are harder than ever.

From Bravely Pro Marina:

The problem
Organizations often forget that onboarding isn’t just about sharing a new employees’ responsibilities and tasks. They need “culture onboarding” as well. This kind of norm-setting is particularly important for employees who have just entered the workforce.

The solution
Make sure new employees understand how things are done and what the company values. Give managers a list of “micro-culture” norms and encourage them to review it with their direct reports. (How should you communicate with your boss and team? What are the company “ground rules”? How are problems solved?) Also, remember that one size doesn’t fit all. If an employee is working remotely or a recent college graduate, provide them with some extra support.

Managers aren’t coaching enough (and they need help developing these skills).

From Bravely Pro Scott:

The problem
Many of the employees I speak with are hungry for regular guidance, feedback, and clarity from their managers. It’s important for managers to understand that focusing on employees — their most vital resource — is equally as important as what was on their job description.

The solution
A good training program helps managers develop empathy, practice their communication skills, and learn the art of active listening. Encourage them to look at their weekly one-on-one as an opportunity to talk to their direct reports about their career trajectory and their day-to-day projects. It’s also important to communicate to managers that they’re being evaluated on their ability to coach in addition to their ability to perform and deliver on their KPIs and goals. Otherwise, they won’t prioritize it!

Have you noticed the same trends in your organization?

Request a demo to learn more about how Bravely can help support your organization: setting employees at every level up for success.

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