December 1, 2022

How to Create Employee Satisfaction During Turbulent Times

By Alex Cramer

You’ve read the headlines while scrolling through the newsfeed on your phone, and so have your employees. Inflation is up, interest rates are rising, and the stock market is going through more ups and downs than a roller coaster at Six Flags.

Even if your business is built to weather the storm, just reading about layoffs and hiring freezes at other companies can create stress and anxiety that will negatively impact your team.

That’s why it’s a challenge to keep your company’s satisfaction levels high when the economic weather gets rough, 401K values drop, perks like free lunch fall away, and people start glancing nervously every time someone from HR walks by their desks.

These are some of the most important steps you can take if you want to keep employee enthusiasm high during periods of economic uncertainty.

Be honest and direct with your team

When a business is facing tough times, there’s a natural instinct to want to keep bad news secret and locked away, but this is the exact wrong move if you want to keep your team unified and confident.

Absent information from leadership, rumors and misinformation can spread quickly through your office. That’s why it’s best to be upfront with your staff and let them know as much as you can about where things stand and how you plan to tackle difficult issues.

Sharing information alone won’t solve the problem, but it will at least put your entire team on the same page and give them a proper understanding of the challenges they face.

That also means that you should be willing to take questions from your employees and be prepared to give them detailed answers.

Uncertainty can be very destructive to the morale of your employees, so being upfront and clear with them about the challenges you’re facing, and the steps you’re taking to address them should help keep them bought into your larger mission as a company.

Create a healthy work environment

Thoughtful and well-structured wellness programs have proven to be an effective way to raise employee morale and productivity, and they are especially needed during times of business uncertainty.

You should expect your employees to feel anxiety when reading disappointing economic news or hearing about mass layoffs at a competing company and a wellness program that helps them manage their stress effectively is crucial to keeping your team in a positive headspace.

The key to a strong wellness program is to understand that there is no one size fits all solution to every employee’s needs. Some will respond well to company-sponsored yoga & meditation programs; some might benefit from playing music in a breakroom, while others just need some time outside and away from their desks to recharge.

Teaching managers to recognize the signs of burnout and giving them the tools and knowledge to help them have healthy and respectful conversations with their team members is a valuable way to boost employee morale.

This is an area where it’s important for company leadership to not only create these programs but explicitly make sure employees know that you encourage them to take advantage of them through effective messaging campaigns.

Make work fun

Your employees probably spend more of their waking hours in the office or at work than they do almost anywhere else. Intentionally bring some joy and happiness that can break up the inevitable monotony that occurs when working a full-time job.

Small gestures in tough times are an excellent way to let your employees know that you are still thinking of them. So bring an ice cream truck to the office, sponsor an employee night out for drinks or give them a half day on Friday. The act doesn’t have to be huge, but small efforts can go a long way to reducing stress and showing support when your employees are worried about what the future looks like.

Leadership is about more than just generating profit. It’s about inspiring your team and keeping them engaged even when the world around them feels down.

Although a strong employee culture can feel like a soft skill or a “nice-to-have,” the truth is that it is essential if you want to keep your team strong and motivated, and it requires you to be just as deliberate, intentional and strategic as any sales strategy or marketing campaign you create.

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