How to raise concerns with your employer without looking ‘difficult’
“Just copy and recreate the logo from the internet,” Chloe’s employer ordered.
Chloe had just graduated from Swinburne University and landed her very first job in industrial design. This was the first time she came to a disagreement with her boss. Chloe knew that plagiarising from others was wrong — she was reminded of this at every turn by all her teachers throughout her education.
But in the context of her career, things appeared a bit differently. If you were her, what would you do? Would you politely turn down their request or would you be complicit with your employer and go along with their demands?
It’s one thing to disagree with another student in a group assignment but when you enter the workforce for the first time, reasonably declining certain tasks and duties assigned to you by your employer can be challenging. You don’t want to appear like you’re ‘hard to work with’ and you don’t want to jeopardise your relationship with your boss but you also know that what you’re being asked to do is either unfair, unreasonable or just plain illegal.
Unfortunately, communicating what tasks you’re uncomfortable with and negotiating why you disagree with someone in that position isn’t always explicitly taught in class. So what can fresh graduates and students on the cusp of graduating do if they are caught in those situations?
Understanding your relationship with your boss
Before you approach your employer with your concerns, ask yourself what kind of person they might be and think about your own relationship with them, or their relationship with others.
If your employer encourages a workplace where everyone works cooperatively as equals, despite titles and roles, then perhaps being more vocal about your concerns is something they’ll appreciate.
If you view your employer as someone who encourages a chain-of-command hierarchy at work, consult with superiors and colleagues around you (especially if you’re new to the dynamics of your workplace) on the best ways to approach your boss.
Understand where you’re at in relation to your boss and from there, think about what you’ll say next.
How to voice your concerns
Figuring out how best to voice your concerns is perhaps the most difficult part.
In most cases, honesty is the best policy. It may be nerve-wracking but do try and communicate clearly how you feel and why particular tasks might make you uncomfortable. Is it because what you’re doing is illegal? Is the task unreasonable because it is not within your abilities? Whatever your concerns are, bring them up without trying to sound malicious or angry.
Speak calmly with your employer, don’t raise your voice and explain clearly and diplomatically why you might be upset or concerned.
Why it’s important to approach your employers
The most important thing to remember is that by bringing up issues at the workplace to your employer, it will help to prevent further cases from happening in the future.
This is especially pertinent to cases of misconduct and misbehaviour at the workplace.If someone is making unwanted advances or behaves inappropriately, raising your concerns will and should be a signal to your employer that things need to change in order create a more productive work environment.
Resolving conflicts is a huge part of being in the workplace and learning how to effectively communicate with your superiors in these situations is integral for a long and fruitful career.
Standing up for what you feel is right is a great trait to have so don’t be afraid to voice your concerns when you feel a job you’ve been given has been wrongfully assigned to you or if the task at hand will result in a grievous outcome.
This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via email@example.com.