5 Common Workplace Challenges and Solutions You Need to Know

César Gamio

Understanding workplace challenges and solutions

Workplace challenges happen in most businesses, and they are unavoidable to a degree. 

These obstacles or issues will probably hinder productivity, employee satisfaction, and/or organisational operations, which means that addressing these challenges effectively is essential when you want to build a positive work environment and secure long-term business success. 

Here, we explore common workplace problems and the strategies to overcome them.

What defines a workplace challenge?

A workplace challenge is any issue that affects the efficiency, morale, or dynamics of a team or organisation. These challenges can be caused or related to communication, workload management, interpersonal relationships, or even the organisational policies. Recognising and addressing these issues promptly and in the right way for your staff can significantly enhance employee wellbeing and organisational performance.

Common workplace challenges

Challenge 1: Team communication problems

Effective communication is essential for smooth operations and teamwork. However, many organisations struggle with communication barriers, leading to misunderstandings and decreased productivity.

Common challenges with team communications:

  • Lack of clarity: Misunderstood instructions or unclear expectations.
  • Ineffective channels: Over-reliance on email or inadequate use of collaborative tools.
  • Cultural differences: Diverse workforces may face challenges in understanding each other’s communication styles. This is particularly relevant in an increasingly remote world, where there is more opportunity than ever to employ workers from different parts of the world to collaborate in culturally and ethnically diverse teams. 

Scenario: Maria, a project manager, assigns her team the task of developing a new marketing campaign. She tells them to “focus on increasing engagement through innovative content,” but doesn’t provide specific goals, metrics, or examples of what “innovative content” means. As a result, team members have different interpretations of the project requirements. Some focus on creating interactive social media posts, while others work on producing high-quality video content. When the team presents their work, Maria is disappointed because the outputs are not aligned with her vision. This leads to frustration and confusion among the team, highlighting the importance of clear instructions and expectations.

Solutions to team communication problems:

  • Implement clear communication channels: Use tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to facilitate real-time communication.
  • Provide communication training: Offer courses on effective communication to improve skills across the team. Promoting constructive and empathetic communication at work will not only drive productivity (by reducing the number of mishaps due to poor communication), but it will also improve engagement (by increasing the quality of the communication).
  • Encourage open dialogue: Support an environment where employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns and ideas. A simple way to start this, is by giving your staff the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions – “What do you think about this?”

Challenge 2: Managing workload and stress

Balancing workload and managing stress is often cited as the biggest challenge at work. 

Overloaded employees can experience burnout, leading to decreased productivity and high turnover rates.

Common challenges when managing workload and stress:

  • Overwhelming tasks: Employees feeling burdened with excessive work. There is a psychological phenomenon associated with becoming overwhelmed when presented with a heavy workload known as workload paralysis. This experience leaves employees feeling stressed, emotionally drained and in some cases, guilty.
  • Inadequate resources: A lack of staff, tools or support needed to complete tasks efficiently.
  • Poor time management: Ineffective planning and prioritisation of tasks. Similarly to work paralysis, poor time management can leave employees feeling drained, stressed or guilty for not being able to meet deadlines or complete work. We have compiled a list of our top three favourite time management techniques, which you can download and share with your workforce for free. 

Solutions to managing excessive workload and stress:

  • Implement flexible work schedules: Allow employees to adjust their hours to better manage their workload.
  • Provide adequate resources: Ensure that employees have the necessary tools and support.

This could be as simple as using team communications platforms like Slack or task management software like ClickUp. 

By facilitating fast and effective team communication, you provide your team with the resources they need to communicate and share ideas from anywhere in the world with reduced effort and potential complications. Encourage regular breaks: Promote a culture that values work-life balance. While work-life balance has become something of a buzzword, you can take it a step further and encourage work-life integration in your workplace/ This is a concept that strives to find more than just a “balance” between work life and home life. It’s about finding a way to integrate employee home life with their work life so that they compliment each other.

Challenge 3: Navigating teamwork challenges

A diverse group of professionals sitting at a table with laptops, collaborating to find solutions and boost productivity in a positive work environment.

Collaborative efforts are key to achieving organisational goals, but teamwork challenges can disrupt harmony and efficiency.

Common challenges when navigating teamwork:

  • Conflicting personalities: Differences in working styles and personalities can lead to friction.
  • undefined roles: Lack of clarity in team roles and responsibilities.
  • ineffective collaboration tools: Insufficient or misused collaborative technologies.

Solutions to build teamwork:

  • Define clear roles and responsibilities: Ensure every team member understands their duties and how they contribute to the team.
  • Foster team building activities: Organise events and exercises to strengthen team cohesion.
  • Improve management training: Train leaders to foster a supportive and motivating work environment. Managers that know and understand effective employee engagement strategies will be more adept at managing teamwork challenges and driving productive communication. 

Challenge 4: Addressing workplace safety

Ensuring a safe work environment is crucial for employee wellbeing and operational efficiency, as well as to avoid accidents, legal issues, and decreased morale.

Common challenges when addressing workplace safety:

  • Hazardous work conditions: Leaving physical and psychosocial hazards unmanaged and uncontrolled.
  • Lack of safety protocols: Insufficient or outdated safety procedures.

Many companies are failing to meet their employer’s legal duty of care by not taking effective measures to assess, control, manage and prevent undue psychological harm to employees. This is an outdated approach to health and safety following the introduction of the ISO 45003 standard in 2021. 

  • Poor health and safety training: Inadequate training on safety measures and emergency responses.

Solutions to workplace safety:

  • Conduct regular safety audits: Regularly inspect the workplace for potential hazards.
  • Update safety protocols: Ensure that safety procedures are current and comprehensive.
  • Provide health and safety training: Educate employees on best practices and emergency procedures. 

Remember! Occupational health and safety encapsulates both the physical and mental welfare of your employees. To ensure you are taking a preventative approach to managing psychosocial hazards and risks in the workplace, implement a comprehensive safety management system.

Challenge 5: Enhancing mental health and wellbeing

Two professional women strategising solutions on a whiteboard workplace challenges and solutions

Mental health issues are becoming a significant concern in the workplace, with profound implications for both productivity and employee satisfaction. As stress levels rise and mental health disorders become more prevalent, businesses are seeing a direct impact on their operational efficiency and overall workplace morale. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression and anxiety alone cost the global economy an estimated $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. 

Supporting employee mental health isn’t just the right thing to do. Organisations that prioritise mental health can expect to see benefits such as increased employee engagement, reduced absenteeism, and higher retention rates.

Common challenges when supporting mental health and wellbeing:

  • Inadequate support systems: Lack of resources and programmes to support mental wellbeing.
  • High stress levels: Chronic stress affecting physical and mental health.
  • Stigma around mental health: Employees may hesitate to seek help.

Scenario: Shantelle is a respected nurse with years of experience, but has recently started feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of her job. Despite the hospital offering various mental health support programmes, she is reluctant to seek help. Her hesitation is fuelled by the unwritten code among healthcare professionals to be tough and resilient at all times. As her anxiety and fatigue grow, Shantelle begins to make minor errors in her work, something she’s never done before, leading to further stress and self-doubt. Her fear of judgement and the stigma surrounding mental health in the healthcare field prevent her from accessing the support she desperately needs. 

Solutions to enhancing mental health and wellbeing:

  • Promote mental health awareness: Create an open dialogue about mental health.
  • Provide access to support services: Offer counselling and mental health resources.
  • Train your employees in health and wellbeing: Provide your employees with the opportunity to develop their understanding of and approach to their mental and physical health. At Dharma, we offer a wide range of employee wellbeing courses that will propel your employees on their journey towards higher engagement, better wellbeing and increased productivity. 

Final thoughts on workplace challenges and solutions

Navigating workplace challenges is essential for maintaining a productive and harmonious work environment, and addressing the 5 common workplace problems explored in this article will help you to create a workplace culture that focuses on individual health and wellbeing in the context of the wider organisation as a whole. 

By understanding how to handle employee mental health, team communication, workplace stress, workplace safety and interpersonal conflict, you provide the perfect foundation from which your employees can safely explore their abilities and reach their potential. 

Remember! You must create an environment centred on wellbeing, learning and development, if you want to drive engagement, retention and productivity in your workplace.

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