Saturday, September 20, 2008

Preventing Panic in the Workplace

Has the chaos of this economic climate proliferated into your work place? Employees and staff at all levels are experiencing financial panic in conjunction with the unrest on Wall Street and a sense of foreboding about an uncertain political and economic future. These legitimate concerns bring fear and confusion into our personal lives, and lead to issues of lowered morale and productivity in the business world. How can you help your staff put in their best efforts at work when they’re worried about layoffs, house payments, fuel costs, and inflation?

1. Talk to your employees– Communicate with staff about the impact of the current economic issues on your company and on their jobs. While this may sound dangerous, keep in mind that fear is far more damaging than knowledge. Fear immobilizes, while knowledge activates us. If layoffs are inevitable, let your staff know how deep the cuts will be. If cut-backs or staff reductions are only possible, let them know what needs to happen to prevent that outcome.

2. Get them involved – Once staff is aware of the problems that lie ahead, engage them in finding solutions. Some staff may wish to create a think-tank or team to brainstorm solutions; Shy contributors may benefit from an “open-door” policy allowing them to contribute ideas by approaching management/owners directly. By creating an arena for employee input, you also provide them with some control over the outcome.

3. Provide incentives – Perhaps productivity has diminished as gossip, worry, and complaints have infiltrated your business. While you can’t remove employee’s economic concerns, you can motivate them to work harder. Try using incentives that address their concerns. A $100 gas card or a $50 restaurant voucher has an immediate and tangible value – more so than a Starbucks gift card or a promise of an extra day’s vacation.

4. Demonstrate you care – When employees believe they’re important to the company and recognized for their efforts and commitment, they feel secure and rewarded. Demonstrating you care may be as simple as paying attention to your staff and being positive and encouraging in your conversations with them.

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