Management Matters: is
a New Article series dealing with the issues that
arise when managing personnel and how to optimize your
current staff in a company.
Employee Morale Post-Recession
October 1st, 2010
With a slow post-recession pick-up, stagnant hiring, and persistent lay-offs, your employees may not be at the most ease in their jobs right now. Keeping your team happy and productive is a tough endeavor in the current economic climate, yet is essential to future growth. Stories of violent outbursts, unusual behaviors, and pessimistic attitudes continue to fill the headlines everyday, garnering employee crisis counseling a priority objective in many companies. Determining how to engage workers and boost morale is a process that evades too many managers, but taking the time to educate yourself will bring a higher level of positive energy into the office. The key to being a successful manager is the ability to identify individual concerns and establish a system to ameliorate those issues.
Though the recession is officially over, a major concern among employees is still job security. Companies have been forced to figure out ways in which they can be productive with fewer workers, and with a large candidate pool, replacing underperforming employees is easier than in past years. Not only can the fear of lay-offs bring unwanted tension and negativity to the work environment, but an upsurge of work on everyone’s plate can also be the cause of increased stress and anxiety. More responsibilities plus longer hours just may equal overextended employees and lower office morale.
The difficult times have also caused a number of people to accept jobs they are overqualified for or would never have considered previously, which, inevitably, leads to dissatisfaction in the workplace. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 55% of re-employed workers, who were laid-off during the recession, stated their families are worse off now than before the economic downturn. 35% said the new circumstances have forced them to adapt to a new lifestyle. Aon Consulting conducted a recent study in the United Kingdom, reporting that half of employed workers were seeking other career or job opportunities. These statistics forecast an unstable job market in the years ahead with less loyalty to employers and less pride in the workplace.
To ameliorate emotional problems and other recession-related issues, companies have drawn on crisis counseling firms to bring in their expertise. Crisis Management International Inc. has seen a two-fold increase in revenue for their crisis-preparedness division since 2009. Recessions and massive lay-offs go hand-in-hand with higher numbers in threats of violence, so counseling specialists are called upon to establish outlet systems for distressed employees. The majority of people fear the repercussions of speaking about personal issues to their bosses, but outside counselors ensure the confidentiality that people need to feel safe.
Some advice given to managers on how to understand employees’ needs and prevent emotional outbursts is as follows:
Create Goals and Objectives – They give structure to the work day and set clear standards for employees to work with. Make sure you establish steps for how to obtain these goals, which will direct focus on the job and provide direction to your team. Accomplishing each step will inspire greater motivation to reach the end product, and it will help your employees feel needed.
Maintain Clear Communication – Lack of knowledge and communication between parties is unsettling to employees worried about the security of their jobs. Managers should be available and candid to their team to avoid confusion in the office. There is nothing like being kept in the dark to build up anxiety, so transparency (at least as much as your company allows) is the best policy.
Have Courage – Despite any company financial troubles, stay strong and maintain a positive demeanor to instill trust in your team. As the manager, you need to be a role model, so focus on future growth and long-term opportunities to encourage your employees to do the same. Employees will have higher confidence and your business is more likely to succeed through the tough times.
Motivate Employees – Including each individual in decision-making process shows that everyone is an asset to the company. It will also help you retain your top talent, who might be looking for better opportunities elsewhere. Even if you cannot provide raises, allowing them greater responsibility in a certain area will keep them more satisfied. Don’t forget that with some encouraging words everyday, your team will work harder and productivity will not flail because of poor spirits.
Acknowledge Achievements – It is more important than ever to take notice of individuals’ accomplishments in the office. People have a need for reassurance, so positive reinforcement will show the team they are on the right track. Congratulate each employee on any milestone they complete and you will find a happier, more motivated workforce.