Keep Employee Morale High Amidst the Downturn

Keep Employee Morale High Amidst the Downturn

From wildfires in Australia to the downward spiral of crude oil prices to COVID-19 outbreak – the year 2020 has given a rough start. All these events have managed to destabilize the global economy. These are the times to reassure employees of how their organization stands by them amidst all the chaos. Here are a few ways to achieve that reassurance.

Low-cost, But Earnest Employee Engagement

Studies state that businesses with higher employee engagement have a greater ability to weather a volatile economy – generating better operating income, net income growth and earnings per share. Engaged employees of organizations tend to roll up their sleeves and prepare their companies to respond to market turmoil.

While resources might not be abundant, engaged employees are rare and an earnest effort must be made towards this. Rigorous efforts to understand the concerns and fears of employees is central to this earnestly. Highly personalized interactions and policies – like providing work from home to reduce travel during the rise of an endemic, go a long way in reassuring the trust they have in you.

Continuous and Transparent Communication

Great is the unrest when there is a lack of clarity. Transparency and communication are powerful tools to reinstate calm amongst employees, especially at the face of a volatile external business environment.

Consistent internal communication that provides authentic updates of the global economic downturn and its impact on the organisation can build confidence and trust amongst the employees. This level of transparency gives them clearer visibility into the future and inspires them to go the extra mile that the tough times call for. HR leaders can encourage business leaders to even send out precautionary information, important statistics, and updates on an on-going basis to show how the organisation is well-prepared for an impact.

Right Time to Invest in Learning and Development Programs

Investments in Learning and Development pay off their best while markets are bearish. According to a study, companies that display a delicate the balance between cutting costs to survive today and invest in growth strategies like L&D to thrive in the future, sail through a recession the smoothest.

Assuming that business may slow down, employees would have their bandwidth available to invest in opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge.

Dynamic markets also push an organisation to set themselves on a search for a sharp differentiation – and re-skilling programs can help open up new avenues for them.

Testing times are the best ones to open up new leadership development opportunities for top performers of an organization. HR leaders can create opportunities for employees to grow this way and have more accountability – helping them to stretch their talents and skills.

Engaging the Layoff Survivors

Should the push come to shove and the company ends up laying-off their employees, there is a lot of work to do in bringing up the morale of the employees chosen to continue with the company.

Employees who remain on the payroll often face the ‘survivor’s guilt’ after a round of layoffs. To arrest this employee attitude that could lead to disengagement, HR leaders need to initiate meaningful conversations. They should meticulously work towards conveying the increased significance of employees’ roles and reinstate their statuses in their respective teams.

After layoffs and task redistribution there tends to be more tasks with the employees. To motivate them to do more for less, managers need to figure methods to encourage individual performances. A great way to encourage such efforts is with milestone awards and individual performance awards.

Layoffs also spur rumours of further restructuring and cost-cutting that might lead to demotivation, productivity loss, and poor team dynamics. Clear and honest communication plays an important role to curb these rumours. Open house meetings, many-to-many conversations, and one-to-one conversations need to become an essential part of engaging with the employees.

Uncertainty regarding job security caves-in after a layoff leading to decrease of employee productivity by 20% and satisfaction by 41%. When the company is cash strapped, the non-cash benefits of the employees can send a strong signal of reassurance. Huawei made a headline move, paying its 194,000 employee staff based around the world, a staggering amount as loyalty bonus in December 2019 – amidst the outset of a global downturn.

Strategic, On-Time Recognition

Recognition even in the form of ‘thank-you’ notes is the simplest way to improve employee morale. When times are tough, budgets for rewards might not come in easy, but simple, cost-effective methods can help HR leaders deliver better with what they have. Identifying the key areas of recognition that gives the maximum impact and motivating performers using small, but consistent point-based rewards can make an economic budget go a long way.

These are the times to try non-monetary rewards such as value badges and leader boards to engage employees, while reinstating the company’s core values. Leader boards on engagement platforms help configure engagement metrics onto a digital rank list to showcase the employees who engage exceptionally well.

People, at their core, want to obtain absolute clarity on where they are headed. Giving them this clarity – on how good things are or on how they aren’t – plays an important role in reassuring them, engaging them and reinstating their morale.

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