According to a recent study from CV-library, the UK’s leading independent job board, one in four employees (22.5%) admitted there are certain questions they are afraid to ask their employer, with that number rising to 31.3% amongst millennials.

A survey conducted with 1,000 UK professionals found that despite their initial fear and hesitation, just under half (49.4) would feel less awkward approaching their boss once they got to know them more.

The top five

The questions employees feared bringing up with their employer most were:

  • Can I have a pay rise? 63.6%
  • Can I have a promotion? 34.6%
  • Can I work more flexible hours? 32.7%
  • Can you help me with a task? 27.6%
  • Can I take some time off? 26.4%

Speaking about the results, Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library said:

“There’s a fine line between being too passive, and too aggressive when it comes to your employees asking about pay rises or promotions. It’s important that you create a culture where they feel comfortable enough to ask you anything, it’s then up to you whether or not you grant their request.

If your employee rightly deserves that promotion or whatever it is they’re asking for, hopefully you’ll have already noticed and can reward them for their efforts. Communication is key in the workplace, and providing they approach you in a professional manner with a reasonable request, there is no reason why your staff should feel nervous about asking a question.”

Comfort levels 

As with most situations, the longer we’ve known a person the more confident we feel about speaking to them. But how long should that take on average? According to the survey, 30.3% of workers believe it would take a month or so for them to feel comfortable, while 23.4% felt that a week would be sufficient.

Surprisingly 8.5% said they would never feel comfortable talking to their boss.

Biggins concludes:

“It’s worrying to learn that nearly one in 10 said they’ll never feel comfortable with their boss, especially if this stops them from asking important questions. It may always be nerve wracking asking for help, flexible working or for whatever it is they need, so as an employer it’s important that you create a friendly culture where your workforce feel that they can approach you if necessary. In the end we’re all human and your employees just want to do what’s best for their career. As a leader you should support and nurture this.”

How can you become more approachable?

Any good leader will champion communication within their ranks. Failure to communicate well with your team opens the door for potential issues down the line. While it’s easy for people to advise creating a friendly atmosphere how do you go about implementing such a thing?

The best way is to be visible. The harder it is for your employees to see you, the less chance they are going to have to engage with you in any meaningful way. Simply walking through the workplace and asking people how they are getting on is a great chance for you to build a rapport with your employees. You’d be surprised how loyal people become when they feel a part of the team.