Common problems at work


When you run a business, you’ll inevitably have issues with your daily operations or employees. Some of the dilemmas may be relatively harmless, while others can have serious consequences for you or your workforce. This guide explores the issues your business may face and how to go about dealing with them.

The different types of problems

Although specific types of issues will vary, it’s possible to group many together into appropriate categories. If you’re having problems at work, the sooner you identify the issue and address it the better. That’s where a list of regular difficulties will come in useful. So, what problems have you encountered at work? Regular examples include:

As workplaces have unique sets of personalities, complete with different opinions and varying approaches to working life, it can cause conflict and friction. You can also create issues if your processes aren’t up to a good business standard. So, it’s a good idea to address outstanding issues to establish policies that ensure a problem-free day-to-day working life.

How do you solve problems at work?

You’ll need a process in place to deal with inevitable issues. The following three-step plan is good business practice:

  1. Identify the problem: Understand the nature of what’s happened. Break down the issue so you know how to address it.
  2. Investigate: Look into why the difficulty occurred and how to go about fixing it.
  3. Fix it: Once you have all the facts, address the issue in the most appropriate manner.

Address the expectations you have of employees in your company handbook and employment contracts. You can do the same during your onboarding process. An induction is an ideal opportunity to highlight the correct conduct you expect in and around your workplace. Just be aware of the complexity involved with workplace dilemmas. Simple problems can be something such as two colleagues who are friends talking too much. Are friendships at work problems? No, it’s important for employees to get along well. But staff members shouldn’t let any social activities adversely affect the quality of their work. An example of a complex problem at work involves gross misconduct, such as harassment or arriving to work under the influence of alcohol. Based on the type of issue you’re facing, you may need to take a different approach. As such, we’ll take you through some examples. This will provide you with a better understanding of how to deal with common problems at work.

Communication breakdown

You need strong business-wide contact to ensure you can function properly each and every day. It’s essential for your long-term success. When proper connections aren’t present, processes can go out of the window and you can suffer serious productivity issues. Solving communication problems at work includes ensuring there’s a two-way process to help cultivate a culture of ownership and openness. There are certain steps you can take to achieve that:

  • Investigate any current issues and address them—this may mean updating certain technology to ensure the process is easier.
  • Set a process for measuring the effectiveness of your communications systems. Review these regularly to ensure you’re on track.
  • Speak to your employees about ways to improve your technology.
  • Measure your results. This can be effective with managers so they know whether they’re delivering KPIs or not.

Health issues

Be aware your employees can become ill and, depending on the situation, that can create periods of absenteeism. Health problems at work should be treated with respect. But also remember there are many and varied wellbeing issues that can arise. So, have an open policy that supports an employee back into your workplace.

Mental health struggles

In recent years, it’s become a hot topic as society recognises the issues many silently struggle with. Your business can maintain an employee assistance programme (EAP) to support staff. But you can also address the matter in other ways. Mental health problems at work are common. This is why it’s important to have an understanding of the numerous issues around so you can provide support where necessary. Types of disorders include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Personality.
  • Psychotic.
  • Eating, drinking, or drug-related.
  • Trauma-related.

Anxiety problems at work, for instance, may require you to make reasonable adjustments for certain employees to make their day-to-day lives more comfortable. It's a vital part of the Equality Act 2010 and applies if a condition registers as a disability. You can also offer flexible working arrangements to take some of the burdens off the employee. This will allow them to attend medical appointments or therapy sessions. This could be going to see their GP or attending cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) sessions to improve their quality of life.

Personality type working differences

Success in the business world is typically associated with extroverts with lots of confidence. In fact, more outgoing business owners can struggle to understand their quieter employees. Some can even view the situation as having introvert problems at work—an undesirable situation in some industries, but a major attribute in others. So remember that, particularly in creative environments, employees with more introspective personality traits bring different attributes to their roles. You should make sure you treat employees fairly. Don't show favouritism. And look to avoid nepotism.

Behavioural issues

This is a wide-ranging problem with many varieties of offences to consider, some of which could be due to mental health problems. As such, your business should approach the issue carefully. Personality problems at work may be more complex than a case of insubordination. Types of behavioural disturbances to look out for include:

  • An attitude problem at work.
  • Consistent lateness.
  • Regular sick days.
  • Insubordinate behaviour (such as answering back to line managers).
  • Procrastination (such as checking social media accounts instead of working).

If you're having a problem with an employee's behaviour, you need to follow a disciplinary procedure. Your process may involve a warning at the first instance, which can then develop if they don't change their behaviour. If they fail to improve, then you can take steps towards disciplinary action.

Payroll errors

Pay problems at work will, understandably, cause a great deal of alarm for any employee affected. But if you have an issue where there’s an overpayment of wages, for example, then make sure you have a policy in place. This will allow you to recover the amount. You should to your employee and you can arrange a way of receiving repayments that don’t put them at a disadvantage. If you underpay them—or fail to pay their wage entirely—you should address the issue as soon as possible. Failure to do so could result in an employment tribunal as you’ve breached a contract. This is because it's an unlawful deduction of wages.

Looking for more help?

Want to overcome your business’ problems? Get in touch for immediate assistance with a variety of HR and employment law issues: 0800 028 2420.

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