Happy Employees in an Unhappy Economy

Is it over?  Or has it just taken a nap, and ready to re-appear?  This recession has been difficult on many of us.  We all know a friend or relative who has lost their job.  Many of us have had to make difficult decisions to terminate the employment of people we care about.  Depending on who and what we read, perhaps the worst is behind us, and 2011 will be a better year.  Oh my, it has to be!!

So what happens to our employees who have survived this economic tsunami?  First, the bad news………

  • Employees (and business owners too!) have been worn down by the recession;
  • Economists are sending out mixed forecasts almost daily about the sustainability of the recovery;
  • Many employees are feeling less connected to their employers after rounds of layoffs, salary reductions, budget cuts, and ongoing uncertainty;
  • Employers have not rushed out to hire new workers for positions that were eliminated over the last 18 months.

BUT WAIT….there is good news!!…..

  • Many of us have experienced recessions in the past, and we know that “This too shall pass.”
  • Unemployment is beginning to stabilize, and some employers are actually beginning to hire again
  • The Colorado job market may lead the nation in the recovery, which could be good news for employers and employees alike.

So what can we do now to prepare for the recovery, and retain our employees when the job market improves?  We have all been through some challenging times, and have retained some great people.  What can you do, without spending a lot of money you don’t have, to keep your valued employees as the recovery unfolds (fast, or ever-so-slowly, it will happen!):

  • You need to be open and visible with your team members.  Keep them informed on the company’s financial condition and plans for the future. Even if you have to deliver bad news, employees appreciate the fact that a business owner took the time to communicate openly and honestly with all team members.  Younger employees need reassurance that downturns are survivable and that “we will get through this!”;
  • Get employees involved by seeking their input on ways to improve the company’s products, customer service, and most important, the bottom line;
  • Look for ways to provide individual recognition.  You just can’t beat face to face opportunities to say “thank you” to your team members.  Give praise to individuals at company meetings…you don’t have to spend money to make employees happy!  Give them a hand-written note to say “thanks” for a job well done, or present them with a small gift (it certainly does not have to be expensive) that is personal to your employee.
  • Participate as a company in one of our many amazing non-profits in the South Metro area, like Project CURE.  Working side-by-side as a team to help others builds a strong sense of pride, and it does not cost a dime!
  • Add a wellness program that encourages team building at the same time you are promoting a healthier lifestyle.  It fun, and we even have a chamber investor who can help you get organized.
  • Celebrate successes! If you sign a major contract, bring in some pizza and announce the good news to everyone.

And while we have to be realistic about our business conditions, always remember good ole Norman Vincent Peal and his Power of Positive Thinking!

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