A recent survey of employees finds that the average “job footprint” (what a worker is expected to do) has increased by a third since the beginning of the recession. The reward for all this extra effort is mostly frozen pay and reduced benefits.
In my many interactions with business owners, I have heard some speak of employees as being “lucky to still have a job.” While that may be true, thinking (and acting) in such a manner is very short sighted.
I recently read Deloitte’s Annual Workplace Survey and one-third of employed Americans plan to look for a new job when the economy gets better. What is interesting is that half of those planning to leave state the reason is a “loss of trust in employers.”
It is easy for management to get more from employees during a recessionary period. The employees that remain tend to be the hardest working and most talented so therefore, productivity has gone up. But at what cost?
There is a real conflict employers feel trying to preserve their businesses and to benefit all their employees, while at the same time wrestling with the fact that cutbacks impact those same employees. Likewise, a survival mentality takes over and employers focus less on people and more on whatever it takes to keep the business alive.
Because employers are uncertain of the future, they tend to not communicate as often with employees. They pullback and share less information with the workforce. This causes distrust with employees. Your employees know business is tough and they understand management needs to make difficult decisions, but that does not mean pushing them away is wise. Rather, now more than ever is the time you need to engage employees. Give them a voice in meetings and decisions. Empower them and show you value their opinion.
I am reminded of the famous quote by Publilius Syrus, "Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” Wise leaders know that keeping employees motivated and engaged is even more important during challenging economic times.
I would love to hear what your organization is doing to engage your workforce. What are you doing to make sure that your key performers do not leave when the first opportunity arises? Have you focused more on Intrinsic Motivation as opposed to Extrinsic?