20 Areas of Improvement for Employees

As a manager, team leader, or HR specialist, you constantly assess the performance of employees and provide feedback. However, what's suitable for performance reviews in one organization might not work for another. Or the criteria might need regular updates and improvements. And you can't support the growth of your employees only by providing feedback from time to time. You must actively support them in their career by showing them areas to improve at work and for their well-being.

Professional and personal improvements are essential not only for employees but also for the business. People who benefit from good performance reviews and healthy criticism are more likely to become more efficient, engaged, and responsible. Improvement boosts morale and reduces stress levels, resulting in healthier employees, better turnover, and fewer absences.

But providing opportunities for improvement is not an easy job. You must find the right areas to improve for each employee because each person is different and needs to address particular issues. Some may need to broaden their expertise and acquire new technical skills. Others may need to improve their communication skills or time management abilities. For some employees, emotional intelligence may be the weak spot. So, don't rely on a single strategy and be open about work areas to be improved.

What Are Key Areas of Improvement for Employees?

A key area of improvement for employees is an aspect of their professional and personal life that improves their work performance. The most prominent areas of improvement are professional skills acquired from participating in training, continuing professional education, and attending specific courses and classes. 

However, social skills are equally important, as poor work relationships affect team performance, problem-solving, and innovation. Last but not least, personal development and lifestyle also improve employee performance. The field of personal development is vast and goes from learning a new language to developing emotional intelligence to managing time and prioritizing tasks. Check out the following examples of areas of improvement for employees and take action right now.

1.    Public Speaking

Many people lack the skill of public speaking and become nervous and anxious even speaking in front of their colleagues. As a result, they avoid being active in meetings and sharing their ideas and thoughts. Therefore, public speaking may be one of the areas to improve for many of your employees. And it's not difficult to achieve; just enroll them in an acting class.

Why are public speaking skills important?

  • Attend industry-related conferences, workshops, and fairs to share expertise and present the company’s products.
  • Discuss with clients and business associates.
  • Share ideas within the team eloquently and concisely.

How to improve my public speaking skills?

  • Hire a professional trainer to teach employees how to make presentations and present their ideas.
  • Create occasions for employees to discuss their ideas and thoughts in front of an audience.
  • Allow employees extra time off to attend acting classes for adults.

2.    Written Communication

Written communication is another example of an improvement that will benefit both the employees and the company. When you cannot write your thoughts, you risk being misunderstood, creating conflicts, or appearing less expert than you are. People with great ideas and solutions may be overlooked just because they don't know how to write and share their ideas in a well-organized and transparent manner. Start by teaching employees how to write emails to different people in the organization chart, administrative letters (e.g., leave requests), technical reports, or constructive feedback.

Why written communication is important?

  • Written correspondence within the company and with clients and business partners has to be grammatically correct, concise, and straightforward.
  • Documentation has to be easy to understand and accurate.
  • Any misinterpretation prolongs communication, leads to mistakes, and may generate conflicts.

How to improve your written communication abilities?

  • Hire a professional to teach a course on technical writing, administrative writing, or any type of written communication your employees need.
  • Provide feedback not only for the information present in an email or document but also for writing skills.

3.    Interpersonal Relations

Another area to improve on at work is how you manage interpersonal relationships. And communication skills have a lot to say about this. Not all people know how to communicate within a team and deal with different types of people. Employees don't become friends overnight, and some may never be friends. Communicating your thoughts respectfully and straightforwardly will improve teamwork and the performance of individuals.

Why interpersonal relations are important?

  • Developing poor relations with clients, business partners, and colleagues decreases individual and group performance.
  • Unconnected employees change jobs more frequently, lack motivation, and don’t take the initiative.
  • Poor interpersonal relations may affect teamwork.

How to improve interpersonal relations?

  • Organize meetings and events with the only purpose of letting employees get to know each other.
  • Provide mentorship opportunities.
  • Create a friendly and trustworthy work environment.

4.    Listening

Besides knowing how to speak your mind, you should also be able to listen to what others say. The ability to listen is something we learn and needs training. Some employees may believe they are too busy to waste time listening. Others aren't patient enough. Others just think they already have the answers. Teaching them to listen ensures inclusivity and equity and gives everyone a chance to be heard.

Why listening is important?

  • Colleagues and managers may have ideas that make one’s work easier, faster to execute, and of higher quality.
  • Listening encourages expertise exchange, empathy, and teamwork.
  • Listening leads to better work relationships and builds trust.

How to improve your listening abilities?

  • Create opportunities for employees to share their ideas, solutions, and experience, such as periodical brainstorming sessions, short morning meetings, and team-building activities.
  • Cultivate transparency, inclusivity, and equity by allowing anyone to be heard. 

5.    Creativity

Problem-solving comes from creativity, and this is one of the work areas to be improved. In many companies, creativity isn't good enough for performance reviews. People are pushed to be productive and not creative. However, creativity helps employees do their jobs better and opens their minds to new ideas and technologies. It also improves their sensitivity and attention to detail.

Why creativity is important?

How to improve your creative skills?

  • Provide opportunities for employees to develop creative skills such as art classes, crafts competitions, and games sessions.
  • Encourage employees to present their work creatively. Instead of the classic presentation, provide materials to create a 3D model, a personalized game, or a shared experience.
  • Reserve one day per month for creative activities at the office.

6.    Emotional Intelligence

We are a pool of emotions. But dealing with them is not usually one of our skills. Overflowing emotions may interfere with the employee's job and keep them from achieving their goals. Emotions also influence how we communicate with colleagues and superiors, perceive ourselves and our jobs, and deal with unexpected situations. Teaching employees how to understand their feelings and work with them may make the difference in turnover rate and absenteeism levels.

Why is emotional intelligence important?

  • Emotional intelligence helps employee manage their emotions and reactions and avoid conflicts.
  • Employees with healthy emotional intelligence are more motivated, responsible, and engaged.
  • When people manage their emotions, they communicate better, focus more on the team’s interests than on their own, and are more likely to develop good work relationships.

How to improve emotional intelligence?

  • Hire a professional to teach a course on emotional intelligence to those interested.
  • Provide a safe space for people to speak their minds and receive valuable feedback.
  • Offer mentorship or psychological counseling to employees in need.

7.    Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are inevitable in the workplace. Therefore, one area to improve at work should be learning how to mediate them. When employees can communicate their thoughts and listen to the other party, conflicts become simply a matter of different opinions. They don't have to escalate and can easily be forgotten. But learning how to manage conflicts requires training, and not many managers have this skill.

Why conflict resolution abilities are important?

  • As conflicts are inevitable, you need employees able to manage them and negotiate with the parties to ensure a correct work environment.
  • Conflicts may appear between departments, teams, or employees on different levels on the organization chart. Specialized negotiators are needed to resolve them.
  • Conflict resolution may involve legal aspects the ordinary employee doesn’t know.

How to improve conflict resolution abilities?

  • Create HR procedures for training employees in conflict resolution.
  • Offer legal support or neutral intervention to those in conflict.
  • Make the consequences for conflict situations clear in the company’s policy.

8.    Adaptability

Happy employees know how to adapt and make the best of new conditions. They aren't attached to a place, team, or task. They can easily switch between duties and responsibilities without losing motivation or commitment. But if you were only exposed to one task and group of people, it would be harder to adapt to something new. Any disruption of flow increases stress levels and reduces performance. It is your role to spot these patterns and take action by providing people opportunities to improve their adaptability skills.

Why adaptability is important?

  • Employees affected by change take more time to come back to their normal productivity after an unexpected event (e.g., moving to a new office building, starting working from home, a promotion, having a new manager, etc.).
  • If change is a major disturbing factor, employees may choose to leave the company.
  • Incertitude and lack of information are stressors that affect employees’ health.

 How to improve adaptability?

  • Challenge employees to adapt to small changes regularly, such as moving their desks, changing the hour of their daily meetings, or adjusting their work schedules.
  • Encourage employees to personalize their work schedules, agendas, and task planning.
  • Approve work from home.

9.    Teamwork

Some employees know how to work in a team; others don't. If you see an employee struggling to fit in and be part of the team, give them the chance to improve their teamwork skills. Teamwork is often evaluated in performance reviews, but it is rarely addressed. Also, people struggling with teamwork often lack other abilities such as emotional intelligence and communication skills. So, don't take teamwork as a given and give people the chance to learn and improve.

Why teamwork is important?

  • How well a team works together reflects on individual and group performance.
  • Employees in teams with good teamwork are more likely to stay with the company for a long time.
  • People who work in a dynamic and healthy work environment are happier and more willing to take on new challenges.

How to improve teamwork?

  • Organize team-building activities and events meant to build friendships between team members.
  • Encourage team recognition and appreciation.
  • Provide opportunities for celebrating milestones and anniversaries within the team.

10.    Self-management

Expand of remote work showed how little we know about self-management. It is one of the vital areas to improve for employees. Alongside training and specialized courses, grant employees access to their work data, delegate tasks, and empower people with trust. Give them the knowledge and tools necessary for believing in their abilities, and they will take responsibility.

Why self-management is important?

  • Self-management influences individual performance and interaction with team members.
  • Unorganized employees don’t finish their tasks on time or become a burden for the team.
  • Self-management abilities build confidence, boost morale, and create a better work-life balance.

How to improve self-management?

  • Provide efficient tools for time management and task planning.
  • Encourage employees to share their daily agenda with their colleagues to avoid interruptions.
  • Provide transparent HR tools for managing time off.

11.    Organizational Skills

Self-management goes hand in hand with organizational skills. From how you arrange your workplace to how you plan your tasks, creating the right workflow improves performance and efficacy. Clutter and chaos don't help anyone. And sometimes, a little detail like where they keep the headphones can make a big difference in your employees' attitude towards work and overall mindset.

Why organizational skills are important?

  • Disorganized employees are less efficient and lose a lot of time with unnecessary tasks. 
  • Clutter induces stress. Employees who don’t know how to organize their space and work are more tired and irascible and get sick easier.
  • Organizational skills improve task planning, meeting schedules, and team collaboration.

How to improve organizational skills?

  • Organization skills are something you learn like anything else. Invite an expert to keep a workshop.
  • Offer self-learning materials such as Marie Kondo’s books and videos.
  • Create a spacious work environment with adequate furniture, plenty of light, and green plants to motivate employees to be more organized and give up clutter. 
  • Small things such as taking effective meeting notes, or sending the right agenda before the weekly meeting make an employee more organized at work.

12.    Analytic Thinking

Analytic thinking is a way of looking at problems by breaking them down into simpler ones and using reason to solve them. It's an ability that allows one to gather and observe information, spot patterns, and solve problems step by step. Analytic thinking is required in many fields of activity such as software, design, business, and engineering. But it is a good-to-have ability in any area of activity. If you notice your employees struggle to understand and solve problems, an analytic thinking class may be the solution.

Why analytic thinking is important?

  • Analytic thinking is crucial for solving unforeseen problems.
  • Employees with analytic thinking make better decisions because they can analyze data and statistics, ask the right questions, and plan more effectively.
  • Analytic thinking provides foresight and allows employees to make valuable predictions, spot trends, and act before an issue occurs.

How to improve analytic thinking?

  • Encourage employees to develop analytic thinking by providing resources that keep their minds active (e.g., books, articles, attending industry-related events, training, etc.).
  • Organize brain games competitions.
  • Provide accurate data and data analyzing tools for the most mundane activities, such as leave planning and attendance tracking.

13.    Time Management

Time is our most precious resource. All employees should be able to manage their time, and all leaders should aim to gain their employees more time. Time management includes the ability to prioritize important tasks, correctly evaluate how much time each task takes, and create a workflow that works for you. Like everything else, time management is something you learn, practice, and improve over time.

Why time management is important?

  • Time management is key for finishing tasks on time and producing high-quality work.
  • Employees who know how to manage their time are less stressed and, therefore, healthier.
  • Employees with good time management abilities find time to help others.

How to improve time management?

  • Allow employees to self-manage, plan their daily tasks, and have a say in the team’s task planning.
  • Provide personalized work schedules to support employees in managing their work-life balance.
  • Avoid micromanagement and give employees space to learn to be self-sufficient.
  • You can share the tips to your employees on how to use google calendar to plan the day better.

14.    Focus

Focus is among the areas to improve because many employees face procrastination, boredom, and lack of efficiency. And the problem isn't always the employee. Sometimes it's the volume or quality of work that overwhelms them. Other times it is a hostile or disruptive work environment, stressful work relationships, the inability to voice their thoughts, or a medical condition. Teaching employees how to face their problems and gain focus at work is a big step toward a competitive business.

Why focus is important?

  • The ability to focus helps employees work better and more efficiently.
  • Avoiding distractions and procrastination encourages employees to take on harder tasks, help their colleagues, and be proactive.
  • Focus reduces stress as people who can concentrate on a task are more likely to finish on time, do a better job, and receive appreciation and promotions.

How to improve focus?

  • Support employees in finding their own pace and planning their daily agenda according to their strengths.
  • Provide transparent and efficient communication tools to avoid wasting time on repetitive or unnecessary tasks.
  • Reduce the time spent on meetings and discussions.

15.    Stress Relief

As stress is part of any work environment, knowing how to deal with it is a big plus for any employee. Because of too much work, employees often request stress leave to recover. Stress is a significant factor in procrastination, conflicts, and absenteeism. It affects employees' health and morale and makes them less engaged and more open to looking for another job. You can add stress relief to the list of areas to improve and encourage employees to spend more time in nature, volunteering, or practicing sports.

Why stress relief is important?

  • Inevitably, work produces stress. But employees who find a way to reduce their stress levels are healthier, take fewer sick days, and are more willing to commit to difficult tasks.
  • Stressed employees will look for another job faster.
  • Stress creates conflicts and reduces people’s abilities to be creative and innovative.

How to improve stress relief?

  • Ensure your employees are entitled to enough leave days for them to rest and relax with their families.
  • Offer additional time off to employees with exceptional achievements to celebrate milestones or as a reward for working overtime to finish a difficult task.
  • Plan fun activities that disrupt the work routine and allow employees to take a break from being serious.

16.    Leadership

Leadership abilities are welcome even when employees aren't in a management position. They help them support their colleagues, be more proactive, take the initiative, listen to others' opinions, and manage their time better. Furthermore, by providing the opportunity to acquire leadership qualities, you acknowledge your employees and show confidence in their future.

Why leadership is important?

  • Good leadership means better teamwork and employees with higher levels of performance.
  • Leadership skills help people manage their staff, avoid conflicts, and create a trustworthy work environment.
  • Employees rarely leave teams with good leaders.

How to improve leadership?

  • Provide opportunities for promotions and career development.
  • Offer mentorship programs to those wanting to learn to become better leaders.
  • Encourage teams to show appreciation, offer valuable feedback, and support their leaders.

17.    Computer literacy

Nowadays, computer literacy is a must, and many employers take it for granted. However, especially in non-technical businesses, many employees struggle with software and hardware they don't comprehend. Provide them training for all apps you expect them to be proficient in and use any opportunity to develop their computer skills. Employee self-service platforms for requesting leave and managing time off may be a good start.

Why computer literacy is important?

  • Almost any employee must operate a computer at some point, even to email a leave request.
  • Computer literacy provides access to better-paid jobs.
  • Computer literacy opens the door to analytic thinking by providing access to information.

How to improve computer literacy?

  • Enroll your employees in a course for developing computer literacy skills.
  • Provide access to computers and software that will reduce the time spent with repetitive tasks, improve responsiveness, and create a transparent work environment.
  • Offer training for any new software you acquire.

18.    Foreign Languages

Like computer literacy, the ability to speak a foreign language shouldn't be just a hiring request. You can help people grow their careers by providing foreign language classes. Employees may choose which new language they want to learn or between beginner and advanced levels. Learning a new language isn't just a practical matter. It also improves memory, focus, patience, problem-solving abilities, and morale.

Why foreign languages are important?

  • The language barrier is a substantial impediment to building international teams.
  • In the globalization era, a company may have clients and business partners from all over the world, and it’s important to understand their languages and cultures.
  • Knowing a foreign language keeps the mind active and improves creativity.

How to improve foreign language skills?

  • Support the costs of foreign language classes and certificates.
  • Encourage international teams to teach their colleagues the basics of their language.
  • Reward learning a new language with promotions or new career opportunities.
  • Online platforms like Bussu, DuoLingo or Rosetta Stone might be handy.

19.    Wellness

Healthy and happy employees are more committed, hardworking, and efficient. But to be healthy and happy, employees need a good balance between work and personal life, healthy habits, and a good mindset. You can support them to improve in this area by offering gym passes, access to healthcare, well-being workshops, or life coaching. Remember that each employee is different and needs personalized opportunities for improvement.

Why wellness is important?

  • Healthy employees need fewer sick days and paid sick leave days.
  • Wellness improves work performance and commitment. Well-rested and healthy employees are more willing to do overtime and help their colleagues.
  • Employee wellness is a good advertisement for your company.

How to improve wellness?

  • Include medical assurance in the benefits package.
  • Provide access to wellness facilities as a reward for hard work, reaching milestones, or overcoming a difficult period.
  • Encourage employees to exercise by offering free gym passes.

20.    Nutrition

It may seem that it is not your problem what food employees eat. But running on coffee, sweets, and fast food will eventually affect the employees' health and, indirectly, the company. You can help them live a healthier life by granting them access to nutrition classes, offering flexible work schedules, and providing healthy snacks.

Why nutrition is important?

  • Nutrition keeps employees healthy and reduces absenteeism.
  • Receiving the right nutrients maintains focus and improves work performance.
  • Nutrition is one of the key ingredients in wellness and can reduce stress and improve thinking abilities.

How to improve employee nutrition?

  • Ensure your employees receive healthy snacks throughout the day.
  • Organize nutrition workshops to teach employees how to create a healthy eating routine.
  • Include lunch breaks long enough for people to eat a hot meal.

Find below a summary of all the 20 areas of improvement that employers can consider for their workforce.


Conclusion

Looking for areas of improvement for employees should be a continuous preoccupation. But don't follow recipes and experts without filtering the information through your employees' real needs. Value their opinion and don't force anything on them. Instead, ask them what they need and how you can help. Be a good listener and build a healthy work environment for each individual.

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