HR Needs to Rescue Employee Morale Urgently!

Due to the down economy, employee morale is at it lowest point, even among employees who have survived waves of layoffs. “Layoff survivor syndrome” (discussed in this recent article on and the resulting psychological recession among these employees are acute, causing feelings of anxiety, depression, anger and physical illness.

What is the impact on your organization?

Vicki Goodwin, a professor at the University of North Texas’ College of Business Administration, said in a recent Fort Worth Business Press article:
“Employees may even become ill from the stress and physical ailments that are related to stress. They are going to be more subject to injury, which people are when they are under a lot of stress, and all of that will potentially lead to absenteeism and can really impact the bottom line of an organization.”

The article confirms similar findings:
“A flurry of research after the economic downturn of the 1990s found that layoff survivors reported high levels of distrust and lower levels of motivation and engagement. Absenteeism went up, productivity went down.”

Long term impacts are also great. BlessingWhite President and CEO Christopher Rice recently commented:
“Many of the leaders I've spoken to in the last few months express concern about engagement levels in their organizations. They're right to be worried. They need employees to stay focused and productive despite taking on the ghost work of laid-off colleagues, paused pet projects, eliminated perks, ever-shifting priorities, and the distraction of the latest headlines or hourly market fluctuations. In addition, soft economies jeopardize the natural balance that may exist in better times. The worst employees will stay as disgruntled hostages and top talent may leave because they still have mobility.”

Facing absenteeism increases, productivity drops, and the loss of top talent to competitors, what can companies do during a recession with limited resources?

Globoforce’s strategic recognition programs provide an ideal tool help you focus on increasing employee engagement in their daily tasks. Rice suggests asking yourself:
"Where are your employees on the engagement spectrum? Do they know their three most important priorities out of all the items on their to-do list? Are they clear on how their work supports the organization's goals? Wherever possible, give them the information they need to succeed and the reassurance that what they do has meaning. … Values and culture provide a stabilizing force during uncertain times and create an environment that inspires long-term success. Don't abandon them now."

Our recognition programs directly feed these needs by showing employees who are recognized precisely what behavior or action of theirs was deserving of recognition and then linking that action to a company value demonstrated or organization goal achieved. This shows employees how their direct efforts impact company success – has meaning to the company.

Using the most positive method of reinforcement – praise – also helps establish your company culture as one of appreciation and not of fear, even during this tough economic environment. By continuing with or implementing a strategic recognition effort, you are clearly showing your employees you appreciate their efforts and care about their well-being. And you are simultaneously boosting morale and increasing productivity.

What effects of the recession are you seeing in your own workplace? How are you addressing the physical effects of economic stress on your employees? Share your ideas in comments.

1 comment(s):

At February 11, 2009 10:56 AM, vaishnavi said...

ur article is apt in the current scenario of global recession.the ideas have been streamlined well..good job..