At a time when layoffs have become a fact of business life how do you build morale in the remaining workforce?
Posted May 19, 2003
At a time when layoffs have become a fact of business life, and your remaining employees are now increasingly important as your company's front line in the customer relationship management process, how do you build morale in the remaining work force? Too often, the psyche of employees left behind at their desks--or out in the field--is one of feeling distracted, overwhelmed, and unsure of their loyalty to the company. Expecting these employees to continue to step up and deliver is simply unrealistic. But there are things an employer can do to speed the recovery process and increase the value of the customer-facing worker to the company at the same time.
#1. Pay attention to your employees: Don't assume that those who remain will work hard willingly because they feel lucky and thankful to have jobs. Let them know that you understand their anxieties and have a sense of what they are going through, because you are going through it as well. Maintain a positive attitude, but don't pretend that nothing has happened.
#2 Reinforce employees' value: Find ways to involve them in the decision-making process. They will more rapidly take ownership of new sets of tasks and responsibilities if they have had input in creating them.
Keep employees aware of what is going on in the company and what and why decisions are being made. This is not the time to keep employees in the dark.
#3 Provide training: The best way to get people focused is to provide or reinforce the tools necessary for their success. Training can help employees:
get their thoughts and plans organized
communicate more effectively, internally to staff and senior management and externally to customers and all of the stakeholders that impact your business
deliver concise, targeted, and when necessary motivational presentations
learn more effective uses for the basic tools of the trade, such as the phone, internet, email, teleconference, intranet, extranet, chat rooms, etc.
In addition to helping employees do their job better, training provides a needed sense of security, as you demonstrate your willingness to invest in them for the future.
#4 Provide opportunities to shine: The sooner employees get involved in a project that will require their attention and expertise, the sooner they will get return to their work ethic. It must, however be a project in which they have an opportunity to really demonstrate the best they can do. They not only need to demonstrate this to you, but more important, to themselves as well.
#5 Support individual counseling: Grief and stress management counseling has come to the forefront of many corporations' efforts to do the right thing. It is vital for senior management to let workers know the value you place on the ability of counseling to cope with all that has and is happening, so each person can live their life to the fullest. It is simply a good business decision that once again demonstrates your commitment to and investment in your employees.
Most important, counseling provides the tools necessary to help them function best on the job. No corporation can afford to get so caught up in the daily struggle to survive, return a profit and meet shareholders expectations that they lose sight of the most essential ingredient to achieving this goal--their employees.
About the Author
Karen Berg is CEO of CommCore Strategies, a communication consulting and training firm based in White Plains, New York.