Everyone’s feeling the pressure of the recession and the workplace is no exception. In fact, a study conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Management at Florida State University’s College of Business, found that 80 percent of those in the workplace reported being nervous about their financial state. If your employees are anxious, their work may suffer and their productivity may decline, so it makes good business sense to try to create a sense of calm by employing the following tips:
Be open and upfront. Hiding the truth about your business’s outlook in the current economy might make employees feel like things are better than they are, but with so much negative news being played out in the media, chances are they may believe things are actually worse. If you value your employees, you don’t want to take the chance that they’ll leave for greener pastures because they fear for your business’s life. Let them know how the business is being affected by the recession, as well as how you’re working to counter that effect.
Stress your sacrifices. The biggest concern employees likely have is whether they’ll lose their jobs. Let them know that you are working hard to avoid that outcome. If the company has cut back on travel or entertainment expenses, let your employees know. If you’ve reduced your own salary, tell employees about your actions. If employees know that you’re looking for ways to keep the business going without implementing layoffs, not only are they likely to breathe easier, but they may also find ways to aid in your efforts.
Help employees manage workloads. As businesses cut back, employees may be forced to take on more work. If this is the case, give your employees as much help as possible when it comes to doing their jobs. Perhaps interns can be hired to provide a hand for college credit. Maybe you take on a couple of tasks that you once delegated. Another option is to let employees do some of their work from home, particularly if they’re working longer hours. The key is to let employees know that you understand they’re working harder and not only do you appreciate it, but you are there to lighten their workload.
Interact with employees. To counter some of the stress that’s being generated on the job, organize brown bag lunches, after-work pizza parties or other low-cost social gatherings with employees in which everyone is able to let their guards down and relax a little. Such gatherings will let employees know that you are grateful for their contributions and give everyone time to focus on having a little fun rather than on their concerns about their job and the economy.
Share good news. With so much of a focus on lost jobs and lost revenues, counter the bad news by letting employees know about steps the company is taking in a positive direction. If you scored a new client, let employees know. If you’ve discovered a way to save money and work more efficiently, share the news. Optimism is contagious. By letting your employees know you’re still moving forward and looking upward despite the economic turmoil, they will feel like they are part of a winning team and be more willing to find ways that they can contribute.