Tuesday, August 26, 2008

5 tips to build employee morale in a down economy

The economy is down, the unemployment rate is at a four-year high and the cost of commuting is taking a toll on workers across the country. You can’t control the economy and gas prices, but your actions have a direct impact on employee morale at your company.

Especially if you’ve been through a round of layoffs or hiring freezes, keeping morale high for those employees still with the company is one of your top priorities. People who feel they are being treated fairly and honestly by an organization will be more inclined to stick it out, through good financial times or bad.

Happy employees are loyal employees who want to do their best to see the company succeed. Keep them happy and use these five tips to build employee morale in a down economy:

1. Focus on the positive. If all you’re talking about is how bad things are, that’s all your employees will be thinking about. Sympathize with employees, but remain optimistic.

2. Forbid rumors. One tiny lie or piece of conversation taken out of context can wreak havoc on morale. Squelch rumors, however small they may be, as soon as you hear them and encourage employees to do the same.

3. Recognize employees without breaking the bank. Studies show that simple employee incentives work just as well as handing out raises. Read one of our past posts with creative employee incentive ideas on a budget to help you get started.

4. Keep training employees. Employees who participate in company-sponsored training are more loyal and engaged. Training shows employees that the company cares enough to invest time and resources in their career development. Review our tips for employee training on a budget.

5. Start telecommuting. Telecommuting is a proven way to improve employee morale, productivity and retention. By allowing employees to telecommute just one or two days out of the week, you will cut business costs and employee stress.

There’s more than one way to improve sentiments in the workplace, but all involve hard work and dedication. Overlooking the impact of how workers are feeling during tough economic times will drain employee confidence and have many looking for greener pastures. Be careful not to kill morale with promises you can’t deliver on, skimping on necessary business tools or creating distrust among employees.

Tough times will test employee dedication and only the best will stick it out. Ensure you’ve done all you can to keep enthusiasm high, even while the going gets tough.

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