All you have to do is look around your organization to see the impact this economic storm has had on the workplace. Empty cubicles are a constant reminder of those people who are gone, but not forgotten. Then there are the people who show up for work every day because they have to; not because they want to. They stare at one another, with coffee in hand, and chant, “Well, at least we still have a job.” The damage has been done. Now it’s time to focus on the process of rebuilding loyalty and employee engagement.
Laying The Groundwork
Rebuilding trust takes time. A good place to start is by accepting responsibility for mistakes made. For example, suppose you told employees there would not be any more layoffs and three months later you conducted another reduction-in-force. Clearly it was a mistake to tell people their jobs were safe, when in some cases they were not. Take responsibility and let you employees know in hindsight, you were wrong. Apologize and let them know you have learned from your mistake. This will allow you and your team to move forward.
Review Your Promises
Many organizations promised workers that they would re-instate benefits, like 401(k) matches and salary reductions within a specific period of time. That time may have come. Don’t wait for employees to come to you and ask about these items. Instead, inform employees of the status of their pay and benefits. Show them this issue is as important to you as it is to them.
Invest In Your People
People are loyal when they feel respected and valued. It’s time to reinvest in your employees. Help them become better at what they do. Reinstate the training and development budget and watch your employees flourish. Don’t worry that they may only stick around for a few years. Instead, think of how connected they will be with both internal and external customers because of how valued they feel.
Unlock the Shackles
Employees have been chained to their desks and attached to their Blackberries during this recession trying to do their jobs and the jobs of employees who are no longer there. Many are fried, yet they stay and burn the mid-night oil. Release your employees from their shackles. Re-staff those positions where you may have cut too close to the bone. Bring in temporary help so your workers can take some well-earned vacation time. Limit the number of hours any employee can work. Set an example. Leave the office in time to go to the gym or meet your family for dinner. Reward performance based on results, rather than face time.
Give People a Voice
Who wants to stay in an organization where they have no say? People stay with companies because they feel they can make a difference. They feel like their voice is heard. When is the last time you asked one of your people to comment on an initiative that might not be part of their job description? Have you asked employees how the organization can better support them? Or is it all about what they can do for you? Technology has come a long way. You can schedule weekly webcasts, implement web-based forums that are moderated; conduct teleconferences or simply hold weekly all-staff meetings. Just make sure the conversation flows two-ways so that employees feel their opinions matter.
Be the Company That You Would Want to Work For
Many people who start companies do so because they are fleeing poorly run organizations. The people that join them, believe this time things will be different. They usually are, until such time as the company either grows too quickly or faces economic demise. The focus quickly shifts from an employee-centered company to plain old Corporate America. You have an opportunity to change the way things are being done in your organization. Rather than making random changes, consider asking your employees for feedback on what they would like to see improved in the workplace. You can do this in a number of way; Facilitated focus groups, employee surveys or one-on-one meetings with people who represent different areas of the workforce.
Give Your Employees a Reason to Stay
Employees who feel connected are the ones that stay with organizations. A great way to help your employees build relationships is to invite them to participate in a mentoring program. Pair them up with others who they can learn from. Give your high-potential employees direct access to your executives. Encourage semi-monthly meetings so ideas can flow back and forth.
Back To Basics
Respect. It’s so simple, yet so easy to forget. Act in a respectful manner and your employees will take notice. The next time your cell phone rings while you are in a conversation with an employee, ignore the call. Let your employee know there is nothing more important than the conversation you are having. When having a conversation with employees, pay particular attention to the tone of your voice. It is easy to raise your voice when you are frustrated. However, no one likes to be yelled at or put down in front of others. Employees who work in respectful work environments are certainly more loyal than those who work in places where the furniture gets better treatment than they do. Show you care and people will respond in kind.
Source: Roberta Chinsky Matuson