The media is saturated with news about the distressed economy.
Naturally, your company’s future is on the minds of your work force. Knowing full well that employees are talking about it, business owners need to bring the discussion out into a productive forum and engage them in the solutions to keep negativity at bay.
“It’s key to motivate employees and portray optimism in this environment,” says Rob Wilson, president of Employco Group, a division of the Wilson Companies. “We talk to a lot of companies that are struggling and laying people off. Motivating the employees that remain is an important issue right now.”
Smart Business learned more from Wilson about how employers can keep morale and productivity up when things are looking down.
What are the issues impacting employee motivation?
Many companies are laying people off, cutting hours or reducing salaries. Some employees are doubling up on jobs and increasing their work hours while wondering if their company will even remain in business. Most employees are too afraid to ask about the stability of the company and negative energy created from uncertainty and anxiety can circulate and cause lowered morale and decreased motivation.
Gossip and speculation can create distrust and cause unnecessary stress that’s why it’s important during tough times for management to communicate to their staff what is really going on before things get out of hand.
How should employers communicate with employees?
Play to your strengths. Communicate to employees that the company is still standing because of their contribution and be very honest about the challenges facing the industry you’re in. Reinforce company products and services, and accentuate the positive in what your company provides to clients.
Solicit feedback from employees to see if they have suggestions on ways to bring in new business or improve service to existing clients.
Whether it’s through a town hall style meeting or closed door meeting with key members, the message you drive and deliver needs to be open and honest. It’s appropriate to address not only what’s going on in the organization but also what’s going on in the economy as a whole and how those things affect the state of the company. Acknowledge the changes that may be implemented to mitigate the loss in business. Be honest if the company has seen decreases in revenue and address the cutbacks needed to survive.
There is no right or wrong way to communicate with your employees as long as the lines of communication are open. Encourage employees to ask questions or make suggestions and let them know their feedback will not be seen as
How can employers make sure their relationships with clients are not hurting?
In this competitive atmosphere, one of the few ways you can really stand out is by improving customer service.
If employees are engaged and motivated, that is going to translate to your customers. Most organizations that are successful have an employee base that takes ownership of their clients. If an employee is taking that kind of approach, it really is appreciated by the clients.
Encourage employees to go to clients and vendors for feedback and find out where your company’s level of service is. If you’re getting positive feedback, it reminds clients of why they are working with you, and when the time comes to look at a competitor, it reminds them that you take good care of them, making them less likely to take a chance with someone else.
Is this a good time to redevelop staff?
If you want to revamp things, now is the time. People have the tendency to be a little more flexible and understanding when times are tough because they know changes are necessary.
In good times, this can be seen as rocking the boat; in tough times, you’re making moves that can result in positive changes in your organization. It’s understood that the status quo and the same old way of doing business don’t work in this environment.
Now is also a great time to develop your employees and recognize new leaders. Take a close look at the employees who are taking ownership of the situation and stepping up to the plate to enforce positive changes in your organization. Take notice of those who are working with you to build your company instead of resisting the changes and recognize that they may become utility players in the future.
You may even come to realize that you were over-staffed with underperforming individuals before, and now you have the opportunity to develop those who are willing and able to take on more responsibility.
Challenge your team to think outside of the box and use this opportunity to focus on what you do best.
Rob wilson is president of The Wilson Companies, which handles human resources outsourcing, staffing and insurance for 400 small and medium-sized Midwest companies. Reach him at (630) 286-7345 or email@example.com.