4 Ways to Keep Employees Engaged During Hard Times

Much of the U.S. is economically booming. But some sectors aren’t. In addition, boom times are almost inevitably succeeded by times that aren’t so good. Sooner or later, your employees might feel the effects of company belt-tightening.

It can be a challenge to keep employees engaged and motivated during hard times. Fear and anxiety can spread throughout a workplace. Your employees may worry they will lose part of their salary, or their jobs entirely. As a result, they can put in a less than optimal performance, or spend so much time looking for another job their work with you suffers.

Here are four ways to keep employees engaged during the threat of hard times.

Be as transparent as you can about the situation

Anxiety and rumor grow in situations where people fear the worst, but no one really knows what is going on. The antidote is to be as transparent as you can. Sometimes it’s not possible to tell people far in advance of planned layoffs, of course. But if you have every indication that your company will continue operating and has no plans for drastic reductions in the workforce, say so. If you know sales are robust, let the employees know.

Be careful not to make promises. But it doesn’t hurt to share the company’s overall financial outlook and its likely impact on them.

Reassure them of their value

If you have employees that work hard and are good performers, let them know they are valued. Be positive in your performance appraisals for employees that deserve it. Set up recognition programs, such as employee of the month or free pizza on alternate weeks.

Employees who know they are valued are less likely to lose morale and become unproductive. They feel like their worth will tide them over in hard times.

Discuss long-term goals with your employees

Make sure you know what the long-term goals of your employees are. Do they want to move to management? Move laterally? Learn new systems? Long-term goals are good ways to retain your top employees. Some companies like to poach employees that are looking when hard times loom. Making an investment in your employee’s long-term plans can counter that.

Again, be sure not to promise anything. If you can further the goals of some employees and it works for your overall departmental plan, do it. Or, you can mentor employees about how to keep moving forward in hard times.

Manage your own stress

Hard times, of course, don’t only affect your employees. You may feel anxiety on your own behalf, either for your job or your own goals. Managing during hard times has its own stresses. It’s very important, however, not to take your frustrations out on your employees. Don’t lose your temper or become overly demanding.

Plan actively to be calm at work. This may involve keeping up with activities like physical exercise to blow off steam outside of work or deep breathing at intervals throughout the day.

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