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The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has recently been focusing its research on three primary themes: work, the workplace, and the workforce. All three fields are experiencing a great deal of change at the moment, and all are key concerns for business owners and managers. They’re very closely related, of course, and if you’re having problems with one it will likely have a negative effect on the other two. For example, an unpleasant workplace environment can result in an unhappy workforce that produces sub-par work.

These three subjects are undeniably useful when looking to the future of work – that’s why the CIPD are basing their research around them - but they can also be beneficial to your business in the here and now. If you’re experiencing problems in the workplace, try sorting those problems into these three categories:

  • Problems with Work
    The work your company does is getting sloppy, or it’s not getting done as quickly as you’d like. Perhaps people aren’t sure of their own roles, or perhaps they’re using outdated technologies. Even if they do everything right by you, you may find that their hard work isn’t having the desired effect. Some of these issues are merely symptomatic of other problems (with the workplace or workforce, perhaps) but if the root of your trouble lies with the work itself, that’s the area you’ll want to address. Don’t punish your employees or waste money on a new office when it’s your process that’s at fault!

  • Problems with the Workplace
    The work environment you provide isn’t working for you. It’s uninspiring, it’s disorganised, it’s not conducive to productivity...in a nutshell, it just isn’t a nice place to be. Note that this can go beyond mere surroundings; ‘The Workplace’ covers every aspect of an environment, including the conditions you place on your employees. Enforced silence, excessive red tape, and general over-strictness can all ruin an otherwise perfectly pleasant workplace. Resolving a workplace problem might mean an office makeover, or it could mean a slight relaxation of the rules, but one thing is certain: you need to change your environment.

  • Problems with the Workforce
    These are people problems, so if someone isn’t pulling their weight, or two colleagues have fallen out, or someone is consistently doing things wrong, you’ve got a problem with your workforce. Is it an issue with the team as a whole, or one person in particular? Don’t assume that sacking the problem person represents a good solution here; some corrective training or even just a brief chat can often be enough to sort everything out, and these tactics will be less damaging than an outright dismissal.
As mentioned above, there can be quite a lot of overlap between these three categories, and one problem can often be caused by other, more fundamental problems. When trying to solve problems, remember that communication is crucial, and jumping to conclusions foolhardy. Dig beneath the surface, and you might be surprised: what first seemed like an environmental issue may prove to stem from the workers themselves, and it may transpire than a suspected slacker is in fact as diligent as can be – they just haven’t been working as productively as possible.

If you would like more advice on solving your workplace problems, why try OSR’s Managing Workplace Problems training day? The next course is scheduled to take place in Manchester on the 22nd of October; email info@olivestrachan.com or call 0161 838 5692 to book your place.
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