It’s still true today – people are your most important resource in the workplace – so how are you helping them?
by Chris Devine of Workforce Dimensions, submitted for The Talent Buzz blog post contest.
In today’s job market it is even more critical to make sure you are tending to the needs and concerns of your workforce. Did your company decide to cut back on training and development of your workforce? Is your company trying to do more with less? Has your company decided to take a wait and hold strategy while waiting to see what the economy does? What is the current state of your workforce? It’s important to not let your workforce get too stressed or distracted by what is happening around them. With today’s changes in the workplace and the ongoing economic news it is all too easy for workers to be distracted and unfocused. Your company could be trying to do more with less but don’t forget about the very real human needs of your workforce. There are some things you can do to help with getting the most productivity out of your current workforce.
Communicate – It’s important that you communicate major changes and decisions in the company as quickly as you can. Many successful organizations hold open forums or town meeting type format meetings with their staff each month. These are general led by senior leaders in the company who can communicate company strategy and decisions. This allows employees to come and hear what changes are occurring in the workplace from a trusted source and also a chance for them to ask questions. By promoting good communication you are also promoting trust and confidence in your workforce and allowing them to be a part of open communication. The forums are also an opportunity to dismiss any rumor or speculation that may be running around the office water coolers. Always share as much information as is reasonably possible to encourage and promote trust and also encourage employees to ask questions via e-mail or through a central mail box as well. Using these methods of communication also helps reduce speculation and job stress during a time of major change.
Use Workplace Tools – Most companies are more closely watching the bottom line these days. This includes the need for tighter data controls and possibly measuring more around key metric areas such as productivity, employee turnover, or profitability. These metrics may be essential to keeping tabs on the bottom line but what are you using to measure the engagement level of your workforce? Do you have a good measurement of your current workforce and how focused they might be in their current jobs? Are your managers too busy to be focused on employee related initiatives right now? Has your workforce taken a back seat to the current crisis your company may be going through? It’s important that you don’t lose track of one your most important investments – your workforce. You should regularly use survey and assessment tools to help measure the engagement level of your workforce, their interest in their jobs, and employee satisfaction. Essentially you should take the pulse of your workforce at least once every 6 months with these types of tools.
Training and Development – This might be one of the areas to be the first to be cut back but it should remain a priority in the budget cycle. Closing the door on increasing employee skills and developing your workforce could be a risky move. Consider that employees will consider leaving an employer if they are not learning new skill sets. In today’s job market you may feel fairly safe about not losing employees but consider when the market picks up again and companies are desperately looking for filling open positions what might happen to the employees who were held back from receiving increased skills training. Is it possible some of those that leave could be your top performers as well? Even if your company cannot provide outside training right now consider using internal resources to help with simple classes like communication in the workplace, project management, or some other business related classes. It doesn’t matter what you offer but always continue to offer something to your workforce in the areas of training and development. Don’t cut your training and development completely or you run great risk of losing good employees – even in today’s job market. This is part of showing commitment to your most important resource – your employees.
Be Supportive and Optimistic – Okay so here comes the tough part. With today’s doom and gloom news it is hard to keep an optimistic outlook. Do what you can to help keep morale up with your workforce. Celebrate the successes and continue to communicate regularly. Keep bad news in perspective and discourage speculation or rumors and help employees remain focused on the work that needs to continue to be done. If employees feel you are doing everything you can for them they will remain committed to helping your business through turbulent times.