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7 Workplace Challenges and How SOPs Can Help   

7 Workplace Challenges and How SOPs Can Help

Many employers work hard to create a company culture to attract top talent, support employee satisfaction, and avoid employee burnout.  Even when employers and employees are making their best efforts, though, most organizations will face common workplace challenges.  

Workplace challenges can range from a misunderstood email to an employee being deliberately and unfairly discriminated against or bullied. While the severity of the challenge may vary, policies and SOPS can help guide employees to solve the issue based on company values and goals.   

Keep reading to learn more about 7 of the most common challenges often faced within the workplace. As a bonus, we’ll also cover how a well-written, properly understood, and efficiently used standard operating procedure (SOP) can help tackle these issues.  

Standard Operating Procedures can help organizations overcome workplace challenges.

1. Breakdown of Communication  

Communication is vital in any relationship, including those with the people that you work with. Of course, we’re all human, and a lack of communication is bound to happen at some point.  

Communication breakdown happens between all levels of individuals working at your company.  

  • Employees: This communication breakdown can include poor communication between employees, such as not sharing all necessary details for a product order or project. 
  • Managers: Management can break proper communication through a lack of transparency when an employee leaves the company. 
  • Senior Management: Senior management can demonstrate poor communications skills during a merger or acquisition, leaving employees unsettled and distracted. 

Even the simple misinterpretation of verbal instructions or the lack of feedback loops are forms of communication breakdown.  

Ineffective communication can lead to misunderstandings, errors, and conflicts within an organization.  

How can an SOP solve this?  

SOPs help create a culture of clear, transparent communication through documentation with the exact steps an individual is expected to take to perform their jobs.  

With well-written and efficiently used SOPs, policies and procedures within an organization are clearly defined. There are no questions about details or expectations – they are all written in accessible documentation. Let’s revisit our examples above. 

  • Employees: Having a written SOP covering how to properly initiate a new project or how to fill a product order 
  • Managers: Having an SOP about the proper offboarding or formal separation of an employee leaving the company. 
  • Senior Management: Executing a pre-planned SOP that explains the timeline and topics to be communicated that ensure confidentiality of the deal while reassuring employees.  

SOPs help to open channels, promote active listening, and integrate regular training initiatives to create a culture of open communication.  

2. Insufficient Job Training  

To successfully complete a job, an employee must have proper training. But this doesn’t always happen. 

Insufficient job training happens when employees aren’t properly taught how to work in their position. Sometimes the onboarding process isn’t defined, and other times there are outdated or convoluted processes that hinder productivity and waste time and resources.  

In addition, insufficient job training can also occur when the training provided doesn't necessarily “stick” with employees. You may have instructor-led training or eLearning when onboarding a new employee – but this can’t be the only time the training occurs. Employees need resources to look back on, whether those be videos or written steps.  

Employee training isn’t a one-time event when an employee is new. Training needs to be reinforced. An employee may have a question about a task they were trained on weeks or months prior. If there is no easy way to go back and review training materials, they may guess, skip steps, or make mistakes.  

Insufficient training can result in confusion, duplication of efforts, or neglected tasks. In some cases, it may even lead to mistakes that can be costly to a company.  

How can an SOP solve this?  

Documented policies and procedures can help lessen ambiguity and offer employees the training they need to successfully perform a task. Well-written SOPs provide a clear overview of how a task is completed according to the company’s best way. SOPs need to be easily accessible on demand, when an employee is performing their job. 

SOPs are a resource for employees after a training event. And with the proper policy and procedure software like Zavanta, documented policies and procedures are easily accessible to all employees through the company portal or can be linked at their point of use in other systems. This allows employees to answer questions and get up to speed quickly by easily finding the information they need.   

SOPs are crucial for fostering a skilled workforce and sustaining long-term success for businesses.  

3. Employee Burnout  

Striking a balance between work obligations and personal life can be challenging. When work-life balance becomes unmanageable, mental health can decline and may lead to burnout or decreased job satisfaction. 

When employees become burnt out, there is a greater chance of turnover. Those high turnover rates can disrupt workflow and result in the loss of valuable institutional knowledge, resulting in costs in time and money to an organization.  

How can an SOP solve this?   

SOPs can help address employee burnout in a few ways. 

One opportunity for companies is to include clear expectations and guidelines of different job positions. This can help employees prioritize their work and manage time efficiently.  

Another example is to streamline process by encouraging your company’s “best way.” This reduces work burden by showcasing the most effective and efficient way to work, reducing the risk of burnout associated with repetitive or tedious tasks. 

SOPs can help to increase productivity, shared knowledge, and motivation, leading to high morale within the organization.   

4. Quality Control and Performance Issues   

Your company needs to work like a well-oiled machine – both in the quality of the product as well as the high performance of employees.  

Quality control issues arise when the outcome of work fails to meet the intended standards or specifications. For example, in manufacturing, a missed step in the assembly process could lead to a defective product.  

Performance issues, on the other hand, encompass a range of concerns such as subpar employee performance, inefficiencies in workflow processes, or inadequate utilization of resources.  

Failing to maintain consistent quality standards can lead to customer dissatisfaction, wasted resources, and increased costs. Performance issues such as lack of accountability or inadequate training can hinder productivity and morale.  

How can an SOP solve this?  

Clearly outlined SOPs leave little room for misunderstanding or mistakes, minimizing the risk of errors in necessary steps that could impact both individual performance and team dynamics. SOPs define exactly how the work should be done in your company’s most effective way. 

By adhering to SOPs, organizations can enhance efficiency, maintain time management, reduce errors, and maintain high standards of quality and performance - all which contribute to a higher company success.  

5. Conflict Management  

While you don’t need to be best friends with everyone you work with, you can hope that employee interactions remain civil. But sometimes, opposite opinions, different personalities, and unaligned goals can lead to tension among team members.  

Imagine two employees with different work styles are paired to work together in a warehouse fulfillment department. They each have their own way of processing the orders, packing the boxes, etc., which results in some tension between the two. Without proper conversation or mediation, there could be resentment and misunderstanding built up between the two individuals.   

Conflicts between employees or teams can create tension, decrease morale, and impact productivity.  

How can an SOP solve this?  

Having a written SOP can help avoid conflict by outlining the company’s best practices and sharing the “best way” work should be done. For our example above. And SOP on order fulfillment can remove the conflict between the two personal work styles and standardize the work.  

In addition, an SOP outlining conflict management and resolution can help employees to solve the conflict. The SOP should establish clear steps to take when conflict arises to ensure resolutions align with company values and standards. This should include mediation frameworks and defined roles and responsibilities to resolve the issue at hand. This action plan will help employees resolve conflicts and move forward in the best interest of the business. 

6. Resistance to Change  

If you’ve ever tried to start a new initiative at your place of work, you know that there may be opposition. Your initiative may create more work for another department or change the way people are currently doing their jobs. Even if you choose the best solution possible, you may face some resistance to change when implementing a new aspect of the business.  

One of the most common occurrences of resistance to change in the workplace is the introduction of new technologies. A new software solution may be met with questions from employees as to why they need to integrate a new system into their workflows or frustration at the learning curve of the new platform.  

Employees may resist new initiatives or procedures, hindering progress and innovation. Managers may resist the change due to time away from work for training on the new software.  

How can an SOP solve this?  

When change inevitably occurs within an organization, an accessible and easily understood SOP lessens the burden of change by outlining exactly what the change is, how it impacts employees, and why this was done. SOPs can also be written to train people, reassure them that support is there, and help to more quickly bring employees up to speed with this new change.  

Keeping in mind our new technology example, you may have experienced an addition to your tech stack like Salesforce. It is a much easier transition to incorporate this new platform into your daily work when you have a comprehensive training overview with written SOPs that include screenshots or even videos of the technology. 

When the big picture of a change is explained and understood, you have a good chance of the new solution being welcomed, resulting in a more productive work environment. 

7. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Issues  

Diversity and inclusion issues in the workplace are concerns related to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability, and other dimensions of diversity. These barriers to diversity can be shown in unconscious bias, discrimination, and lack of representation in leadership positions.   

Failing to create an inclusive environment can lead to workplace problems such as discrimination, bias, and reduced employee engagement.  

How can an SOP solve this?  

SOPs provide the actions and steps for implementing inclusive policies and ensure fair treatment of all employees within an organization. It’s great to say you have DEI policies, but without supporting SOPs, it’s left up to individuals to figure out how to follow them.  

Addressing diversity and inclusion issues requires proactive measures such as implementing inclusive hiring practices, providing diversity training and education, fostering open dialogue and cultural competence, and promoting diverse representation in decision-making processes.  

A few examples include: 

  • Diversity: An SOP on posting new jobs that explains how to attract more diverse candidates might specify posting the job on or to attract neurodivergent candidates. 
  • Equity: An SOP written in multiple languages may provide equitable support to bilingual employees. 
  • Inclusion: An SOP for managers on how to gather input from all employees, giving everyone a voice. 

SOPs can serve as a tool for embedding diversity and inclusion principles into the fabric of the organizational culture. 

Overcome Workplace Challenges with Zavanta  

SOPs serve as a cornerstone for organizational resilience. Clearly defined and understood SOPs enable you to overcome the most common workplace challenges and provide the steps for achieving organizational success.  

You can effectively manage SOPs through software like Zavanta.   

Zavanta is a platform for creating, managing, and implementing clear policies and procedures within your organization. Customizable templates, intuitive workflows, and robust collaboration features are just a few of the stand-out features that you can use for SOP management. Zavanta's cloud-based platform ensures seamless accessibility and real-time updates, enabling teams to stay aligned and responsive to any challenges they face. 

Contact us today to start a conversation. 


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