Maintaining employee morale in a down market


Bill Pinto talks about the importance of maintaining employee morale, even with the dark clouds looming over many companies right now:

Almost daily, we hear about another round of layoffs. We read about large corporations reporting large quarterly losses. But the current business environment affects the small and mid-size companies just as hard, if not harder. Some companies can be tempted to think that the employees who remain after a layoff should simply be happy to still have a job. Although those employees likely do feel lucky to survive, those employees also need to feel valued. When companies cut back on staff, that usually means that the same amount of work needs to be accomplished by fewer employees. This only heightens the need to value the ones who take up the slack. How can companies maintain employee morale in a down market?

Obviously, in a tight business environment, companies have less money to throw around on employee perks. However, some simple steps can go a long way towards achieving the results companies want. First, companies should not try to oversell minor trinkets as objects of appreciation. Pens with company logos or noting that the coffee is free are not going to cut it. Here are some ideas that employers can consider:

- Engage your employees in a dialogue to see what issues impact their morale and ways they think management can improve morale. Involving employees in this discussion communicates that their opinions matter.

- Explain to employees efforts that are being made to survive the tough market and enlist their assistance with achieving those goals.

- Say “Thank you” when employees help out employees at any level of the org chart!

- Send out company emails identifying employees who are making a difference. And close those emails thanking everyone else in the company for all of their hard work as well.

- Gift cards for gas or groceries tell employees that the company appreciates their hard work and understands how hard it can be to make ends meet.

- A catered lunch or happy hour once every month or two can be a time to bring everyone together and help instill a family atmosphere at the office.

These are just a few ideas. What things has your company does to maintain or develop employee morale? What’s been a success and what’s been a flop? Do you think employees are expecting too many perks in this sluggish economy?

Bill Pinto is a guest blogger from SHRM-Atlanta.

One comment Add your comment


January 27th, 2009
1:53 pm

Half the staff twice the work. I think this is the common fear for many employees that “survive” layoffs. Many companies are cutting in every department leaving them depleted and grasping for air. I think more now than ever companies need to look at outsourcing as a cost cutting maneuver that leaves employees still feeling a bit of love. Consider using HR Outsourcing to cut the bottom line while maintaining a outlet for the remaining employees to deal with HR related claims such benefits and such. Keeping your remaining employees happy is essential to staying the course.