Speak Up at Work

Speak Up at Work

Do you sometimes have an issue at work in the warehouse that you would really like to speak up about? Maybe it’s a health and safety concern, a problem in the team or you just need to know how to do something. Sometimes it can be hard to know who the best person is to speak to and there may be things that hold you back.

Here we address some of the common issues that people have when it comes to speaking up at work and offer advice on how you can overcome any difficulties you perceive.

Why speak up?

Speaking up at work means you are seen and known to have an opinion. It may be an indication that you are willing to stand up for what you believe or it could be fuelled by your desire to move forward in you warehouse job.

There are some common issues in warehouse work that often need to be spoken about:

  • Health and safety concerns
  • Staff issues
  • Shifts

If you have a problem in any of these areas then you need to have a voice. Management are not always aware, so by raising the concern you can work to solve it.

In the case of health and safety, not saying anything could put yourself and others at risk. If there are staff issues, then you need to be able to give your input and equally stand up for yourself. If you don’t, then you may end up feeling resentful and more unhappy. It is best to deal with the problem and speak up to the appropriate person. The same goes for shifts - if you are not happy with your current shifts then you need to talk to someone to see if the situation can be resolved.

It is possible that your colleagues have been thinking the same as you but have been too afraid to say anything. By giving yourself and them a voice, you can establish yourself as someone to be heard and respected. However, if you want your opinion to be valued there are right and wrong ways to go about speaking up.

What holds you back from speaking up?

It can be a scary prospect to speak up about your thoughts and opinions at work, you may fear what the reaction will be or you may be afraid you don’t communicate the issue(s) at hand.

Certain issues can be daunting to speak about with your boss, especially if you are relatively new to the workplace. When you summon up the courage to speak to your Line Manager you want to know that they will listen and take you seriously.

These are some fears that may prevent you speaking up at work:

  • Lack of confidence
  • Social anxiety
  • Worry about not getting shifts
  • Concern about losing your job
  • Feeling undervalued as a temporary worker
  • Language barrier

How to speak up at work

Think carefully about what you need to speak about. Before you approach your Supervisor, decide if the issue is something that directly affects you. If so, then you have a right and a need to say something. Equally, if it is a matter of health and safety that could affect everyone, it needs to be brought to the attention of the appropriate people.

Think about timing when you speak up. Is it urgent or can it wait? It is not a good idea to approach your Line Manager during busy periods as they will be less able to listen and focus on what you are telling them. Find a time at the beginning or end of the day when things are quieter; or ask you Manager if you can arrange a suitable time, so that you can both talk properly to understand and resolve the issue.

You need to do your homework about the problem. Anything that involves everyone needs to be addressed and if you know your stuff then you are more likely to be taken seriously. Check if your colleagues have similar concerns, you may want to approach your Supervisor together, which can make things easier. However, if the issue is more personal or if you don’t like to speak in a group setting, then it is better to find a time to speak to your Supervisor privately.

Think about how you speak up. You don’t want to come across as overly critical or complaining as this can create a negative vibe before you get started. Consider how to approach the subject and then discuss it with your Manager in a positive way. As you talk, don’t be defensive, stay calm and confident about the reason you are speaking up.

For example, if you feel that you are being overlooked for certain tasks, don’t go in complaining that George always gets to do XYZ. Instead, explain that you would like to be challenged to improve certain skills by doing XYZ and you would really appreciate the opportunity next time it becomes available.

Speaking up does not always have to be about something negative. If you don’t know how to do something then the only way to learn is to ask questions. Don’t be afraid – if in doubt, it’s time to speak up. To continue improving your knowledge and expertise to do your job well, speaking up is a positive thing. This way you will become more confident in the task and gain more experience.

What would help you to speak up more?

Here are some things that you need to think about to make it easier for you to speak up at work:

  • Improve confidence - step out of your comfort zone   
  • Be more assertive
  • Team up with colleagues
  • Know how to speak up in the right way
  • Know the appropriate channels to go through
  • Know your rights   
  • Improve your communication & language skills   

A big boost to confidence is knowing your subject. When you speak to your Warehouse Manager you must be well prepared for what you need to talk about. Be confident in your own knowledge and ability, if you have a positive frame of mind and believe in yourself, it will make you more assertive and this will come across when you speak up.

If the issue is something that involves more people than just you, then speak to your colleagues first. If there are a number of you, then perhaps appoint two or three as spokespeople, rather than all going as a big group.

When you are working as a temporary employee in a Warehouse, there may be occasions when you feel as if you are not treated in the same way as directly employed members of staff. So it is important that you know your rights.

Even if you work through an agency, you still have the same basic workers employment rights as permanent employees, regardless of how long you have been there and you are entitled to use the same facilities and services as everyone else. After 12 weeks in the same placement you qualify for all the same rights as the permanent employees and should be treated equally in all ways. If you feel this is not the case you should bring up it with your boss. Having the right knowledge is important when approaching your supervisors about any issues.

In the case of conflict, if you know you are in the right about something you are being held responsible for and you feel you cannot approach your Manager, then it may be necessary to ask a third party for advice or to intervene. As a Blue Arrow Flexible Employee, your best contact will be your Blue Arrow Consultant.

When you are working in a Warehouse environment and English is not your first language, it can make things more difficult when it comes to speaking up. Listening to English all day, you may well understand most of what is said, but when it comes to speaking and saying what you want and mean to say, you may feel less sure. The best way to overcome the language barrier is to improve your English language skills.

There are lots of resources online for English language lessons. For practice lessons, courses and tests at various levels, The British Council is a good place to start. Cambridge English also have free activities on their website to help practise your English.

If you prefer a classroom environment lots of local colleges offer ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses for people living or wanting to settle and work in England.

Any English class will help improve your listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, which will greatly improve your confidence when you need to speak up at work. It will also be helpful if you can spend time speaking with a native English speaker in a social setting. The more you use the language, the faster you will learn and become more fluent in English.

What else can you do if you have an issue at work?

It can be difficult to know who to talk to when you have a problem at work, especially if you are relatively new in the workplace. If you still lack confidence to approach your Line Manager, are unsure about who you should approach at your place of employment or feel that your concerns are not being addressed, then you can always speak to your Blue Arrow Consultant by contacting your local Blue Arrow branch.