News of an impending recession grows in the US and the rest of the world. Talk of large-scale layoffs circulates in the news about companies freezing recruitment efforts or scaling down staff through mass layoffs.
According to Forbes, numerous companies have or plan to layoff staff, including:
- JPMorgan Chase reportedly laid off over 1000 of its employees.
- Ford plans to lay off up to 8,000 employees (Bloomberg).
- Shopify let go of 1,000 employees.
- Tesla laid off 229 employees (Reuters).
This is only fueling fear amongst employees as uncertainty mounts over the stability of their jobs. What will happen in the coming months, and will this trend build momentum as skepticism grows around the economic environment?
This is the time when companies need to strengthen employee morale and ensure that they are open and honest about their intentions to avoid a culture of mistrust.
In this article, we will discuss why strengthening your company culture matters more now than ever.
Why is it important to address employee concerns?
Your employees have already dealt with great uncertainty and upheaval through the pandemic. The war in Europe has only fueled tensions and uncertainty about the future. And now, with the economic effects building with rising costs and news of widespread layoffs, it is critical to address employee fears.
Their well-being and fears need to be addressed to manage any speculation and rumors of the possible scenarios that could unfold.
The key to easing employee tensions is clear and honest communication at all levels of your organization. Any attempt to wash over concerns employees may raise will only heighten fears and compound uncertainty.
Increased work tensions and stress will possibly lead to:
- Impaired focus at work.
- Lack of motivation.
- Increased stress
- Loss of team morale.
- Decreased performance.
- Increased friction amongst employees.
Let’s take a look at ways you can strengthen your company culture during uncertain times.
What can you do to strengthen your company culture?
The fundamental starting point for creating a positive company culture is leadership. Those leading the company must encourage a supportive environment for employees to work, communicate and share.
If employees feel threatened, they will not communicate or share. And this will strain employee relations, stifle communication and create bottlenecks in your productivity.
Managers and team leaders need to take the lead in stimulating open communication, open dialogue, and having an open door policy. This will make employees feel free to approach and share challenges they face without the fear of reprimand.
Encourage open communication
No company can achieve anything without effective communication between its employees, suppliers, and customers. Ineffective communication in any business will only lead to productivity issues and tensions between team members.
But for employees to effectively communicate, they need to feel comfortable approaching each other and management. Negative feedback and unsupportive responses will only break employees’ confidence, leading to impaired productivity.
By encouraging open communication at all levels, it becomes easier for information to flow, problems to be addressed, and to respond to opportunities faster.
Develop a culture of recognition
Motivating employees during uncertain times can be challenging. This is when acknowledging employees’ contributions and achievements is even more crucial. The more you demonstrate that you value your employees, the more committed and secure they will feel.
As employees read more about the recession and layoffs, they will begin to question their value to your organization. And if you fail to acknowledge and give your employees positive feedback on their worth, this will only fuel their uncertainty and fears.
This can be done with weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly feedback sessions. However you choose to do it, taking the time to support your employee’s efforts can go a long way in strengthening your company’s morale.
Create internal opportunities
We all want to look forward to better things. We all want to grow and be exposed to new career experiences. And your employees are no different. They also want to look forward to new opportunities to grow in their career.
Instead of looking for new talent, consider identifying current employees that could move into higher positions. By internally promoting and growing your employees, you will build a much stronger and more resilient company.
If you fail to make opportunities available for your employees so they can grow, they will look for opportunities elsewhere, which could lead to losing great employees.
Listen to your employees
The best thing to do during challenging times is to listen to your employees. They are all facing individual challenges, both personally and professionally. And by creating opportunities for your employees to share, you will gain valuable insights to help you support them.
- Setup group discussions
- Schedule one-on-ones with employees
- Conduct company-wide surveys
These are just three ways you can get feedback and motivate dialogue with employees to gather feedback and identify challenges that need to be addressed. When employees feel their voices are being heard, they will be more at liberty to share.
Encourage work-life balance.
As employees feel pressured to deliver results and prove their worth, they may be inclined to work longer hours. Although this is commendable, it will not be sustainable. Managers should take the lead in ensuring that employees don’t overload themselves with unhealthy work habits.
If not managed, employees may be susceptible to illness and, over the long term, may experience burnout. Therefore it is imperative to monitor employee work hours and step in to intervene when employees are overworking.
This could be done by offering employees a day off, more flexible working hours or the option to work from home. The goal is to ensure your employees don’t neglect their responsibilities or take time for themselves and their families.
Remunerate employees fairly
As the cost of living continues to increase and places employees under more financial pressure, it is important to offer fair compensation. Assess your employee’s performance and value to your organization. This is not just for their sake, but to ensure they stay and don’t leave.
It is better to keep great employees than have to look for new employees that can replace them. Not only can finding good people take time, but it also costs money and resources.
By building a culture within your organization of fair compensation and appreciation for the value they deliver, you will strengthen their commitment and loyalty to your company.
Bridge employee skills gaps
It’s a great time to look internally at your employee’s skills and experience to identify possible skills gaps. By doing so, you can enhance your employee’s ability to do their jobs and deliver better results for customers.
One way to do this is using Testlify’s talent assessments which can be used to test your employee’s technical skills and aptitudes. Our assessments can be customized for specific roles and can refine as required for your organization.
This allows you to accurately identify skills gaps that may exist in your team members and offer insights into their soft skills to help guide employee development. Better insights will lead to more targeted skills development programs that can offer greater investment returns.
Your employees need reassurance on the security of their position in your organization. This is their primary concern, and they need feedback to understand what to expect from your organization. If they feel that their position is threatened or they have a high chance of being laid off, they will seek alternative employment.
And if their fears are unfounded, you need to communicate clearly with your employees through open discussions or one-on-ones. Group discussions and company-wide efforts should be made to address the concerns of all employees.
Avoiding your employee’s concerns will only lead to mistrust and suspicion. And that can create a company culture where employees feel alienated. This will further build distance between employees and management.
The clearer you are about your company’s position during this time, the better your employees will respond. The more supportive and open your company culture is, the stronger your team morale will be. And now is the time to strengthen your teams and maintain the productivity your company needs to get through this time.