“Tough times are inevitable in life and in business. But how you compose yourself during those times defines your spirit and will define your future.” These are inspiring words by Sir Richard Branson and they beg the question, “How should I compose myself?”
As you may already know, there are seven critical elements of running a small business, i.e. business planning, financial management, marketing, building a team, customer service strategy, sales & estimating and continuous improvement. Alas, building a team is probably the most important, yet most overlooked aspect of running a successful business. And, during challenging economic times, maintaining a strong team is especially critical.
Have you heard that employees are assets to a company, but also its greatest expense? Well, that thought originated from accounting practices that list the cost of employees as an expense in the income statement. Well, using accounting terms, “assets are company resources which have future economic value.” And, too often, businesses unwisely treat their employees as expenses, not realizing that treating them as assets will keep them operating at peak performance, thus creating future economic value. Something to really think about.
So, how is the employee morale in your company? Is it high or low? Do you pay attention to the energy at your business?
When anxiety and uncertainty run high during economy slowdowns, they adversely affect employee morale. Fear and instability from changes in management, layoffs, employees feeling unappreciated, poor working conditions and/or negative news from the media distract the employees. They become less productive and less invested in the growth of the business.
So, what can you do?
To address these employee morale issues, the rule is to communicate openly, honestly and consistently. Talk to your employees either formally or informally. Ask them what they think, how they feel and what they need. Due to the fast-changing nature of crisis, over-communicating will be necessary.
When you involve your team and demonstrate to them that you care, it will instill in them a heightened sense of urgency, which will then create the positive growth that your business will need to withstand the challenges and come out of the crunch stronger than ever.
Here are just a few more ways to boost employee morale that don’t cost a penny:
(1) Create a positive work environment, starting with you. Keep a healthy, positive attitude and make sure your employees know you appreciate them. In doing so, they are 80% more likely to go above and beyond their scope of work, when needed.
(2) Encourage employees to take regular breaks. Our minds need time to rest and recover from being constantly stimulated while working. Studies have shown that employees who take regular breaks are able to boost concentration levels and increase productivity, while the performance of those who don’t ultimately suffer.
(3) Good coffee = happy employees. Okay, so it may cost more than a penny, but there is a big payoff. According to research from MIT, caffeine is linked to creativity. Besides, happy coffee-loving employees lead to improved productivity.
(4) Lights … Plants … Action! Clear or open windows to allow natural light to shine through. Bring plants in from the outside. Eliminate clutter, as much as possible. Working in a healthy physical work environment helps to reduce stress and anxiety, increase productivity and reduce negativity.
(5) Celebrate your employees. Congratulate your employees for their life achievements, e.g. new baby, child’s graduation, engagement, new home, etc.) as well as for their office successes. Applauding them in person, over the phone or by email to the entire company and recognizing them will make them feel more valued and more positive in working with you.
(6) Allow for flexibility in work arrangements. Life happens and when you support your employees’ needs for schedule adjustments or special work arrangements, their gratitude will be reflected in their loyalty and performance.
Difficult economic times are opportunities for growth and creativity. Talk to your employees about what you and they CAN do to weather the storm. On matters you cannot control, discuss creative ways to adapt to them or work around them together.
Engaging employees demonstrates your respect for them and naturally motivates them to be more productive. When you do what you can to increase employee morale, you define your spirit and that will definitely define your future!
Amor Traceski is a Human Resources Consultant with over 20 years of experience in human resources management in various fields of industry. She is also a motivational speaker, life coach and author of Been There, Done That: Practical Tips & Wisdom from Cancer Survivors for Cancer Patients.
Learn more about Amor online at https://www.amortraceski.com/