The poor economy has been tough on American businesses, but it’s been tough on American workers too. Many employers are fighting low morale in their work forces as employees struggle with increased stress from financial worries on the job and at home. Poor morale negatively impacts production efficiency and product quality, decreases customer service, and can result in higher levels of workplace injury and absenteeism. Savvy businessmen will keep an eye on employee morale and address issues before they start to affect work quality.
The poor economy has created significant on the job stress for American workers. Many workers fear losing their jobs or being caught in the next round of layoffs. Even unpaid furloughs can cause significant financial strain. Those who still have jobs may not only suffer from survivor guilt when friends are laid off, but feel the pressure to pick up the slack from a reduced work force. With most companies cutting personnel to reduce costs, workers are being forced to accomplish more work with fewer people. Hiring freezes, loss of bonuses, reduced health care benefits and other measures necessary to keep businesses operating put further financial pressure on workers and have a demoralizing effect on a workforce that already feels over-burdened. Add in financial worries at home — mortgage payments, fear of foreclosure, high credit card bills, rising medical costs, high food and gas costs — and it can be tough for workers to fully focus on the job and stay motivated.
Business owners may have to step in and give workers a morale boost to help them get through these tough economic times. Here are some things business owners can do to boost morale and make workers feel needed and appreciated:
- Personal touch. Make an effort to know your employees individually. Let them know you care about their lives, families and goals. In large operations, shift or line managers may fill this role; but anytime the owner recognizes employees personally, it boosts morale.
- Roll up your sleeves. Whenever you can, roll up your sleeves and work along side your employees. Employees appreciate a boss who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty and is willing to share the load.
- Make it personal. Spend more time communicating face-to-face and less time communicating via email, phone and memorandums. Taking the time to make communication personal shows you value your employees as individuals.
- Empower. Ask your employees for input and suggestions. Showing you value their opinions allows employees to feel they have a personal stake in the company.
- Share your vision. Share your ideas and dreams for the business with your employees. Let them know you understand their concerns and are working toward a brighter future for all of you.