It’s here, work from home orders have been lifted in most states, and businesses and governments are encouraging people to return to the workplace. So, with the ongoing impact of COVID on staffing and resourcing, is it time for your business to consider if management behaviour is part of the problem in retaining or recruiting staff?

There’s no denying that it’s an employee’s market.

Recent data from the ABS indicates that 20% of businesses have been impacted by staff shortages. Up to 70% of businesses have reported being unable to find suitable staff, while existing employees’ availability to work has also been problematic.

Not to mention recent research by the Australian College of Applied Professions, indicating that management behaviour could be a key reason why staff are looking elsewhere. The College undertook a survey of 1000 employees where 29% reported that they disliked their manager. While baby boomers were less likely to dislike their manager, about one third of Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X employees reported their dislike of their manager.

The impact is that many employees are concerned about returning to the physical workplace. During the pandemic, 83% of employees have worked from home in some capacity. 53% of them report being concerned about having to physically interact with their boss when they return to the workplace.

Why are employees reluctant to return to the workplace?

Key reasons for employee concern returning to the workplace include, working with managers who have:

  • a lack of awareness, or emotional intelligence, about how their behaviour and attitudes affect employees,
  • poor communication and listening skills,
  • tendency to micromanage,
  • a lack of empathy about life outside of work.

53% of those employees are saying that their tolerance for bad behaviour, rudeness, work politics and drama has reduced compared to their thoughts prior to the pandemic.

What they say they do want from management are good manners and respect, effective listening skills, empathy, flexibility, and the ability to create a team.

A simple solution: create psychological safety

Fixing the problem is simpler than many businesses might think. It’s about creating psychological safety. It sounds like a complex solution, but it’s not.

In simple terms, leaders can work to create a sense of workplace safety by enabling employees to:

  • have the freedom to share their thoughts.
  • express concerns.
  • have a space where people feel a sense of ease and support.
  • taking measured risks after considering possible scenarios.

Leaders can also work with employees to:

  • allocate tasks appropriately and provide coaching where needed
  • discuss and consider all possibilities.

The fight for the best talent is heating up and employees know they have a choice.

The past two years has helped employees to understand what they want in terms of a career, a workplace, and opportunities.

Ensuring your managers and leaders have the knowledge and skills to engage and nurture employees appropriately, so that your business can maintain a skilled and consistent workforce will be key in your business’s success.

So, the next question is are your manager’s equipped to create a safe workplace that encourages employees to return?