Monday, September 22, 2014

The three-stage strategy to improve employee morale

 The three-stage strategy to improve employee morale
The recession continues to impact many industries, with restructurings and layoffs creating concern among employees. When profits are threatened, companies often view layoffs as a direct way to reduce costs, however, when efforts are focused solely on managing job cuts, remaining workers are left in limbo. Managers are also likely to become more directive, communicating decisions rather than involving their teams in decision-making processes.
Organizations don’t always recognize the impact this behavior has on remaining employees or anticipate the long-term negative effects. This creates a potential time bomb.  Disenchanted employees will be the first to go when the economy starts to improve leaving the organization without the workers it was most keen to retain.

Rarely does a company allocate sufficient budget to deal with employee morale issues. Yet there are tangible, cost-effective steps for organizations to take in moving employees away from feeling like victims or suffering “survivor syndrome.” These steps help employees feel more in control of their environment, so they are better able to understand why things have changed and how they can positively impact outcomes. 
The following three-stage approach will keep an organization on track, improve morale and promote productivity following workplace change. The steps help move employees up from the bottom of the change curve, where they feel disappointment and anger to feeling optimistic and happy. The important principle here is to maintain momentum, moving quickly to create a sense of urgency and progress.

The three-stage approach to lift employee morale

  • STAGE ONE - Listen: Get feedback and ideas.
  • STAGE TWO - Communicate: with solutions to business issues and employee concerns.
  • STAGE THREE - Recognize: business and employee accomplishments and successes.

STAGE ONE - Listen to employees

Relationships between the organization and employees are fractured following a period of upheaval. And this situation won’t improve on its own. Companies must take a proactive approach, beginning with listening to employees and getting their concerns out into the open. Leaders must acknowledge employee issues and be motivated to make improvements.
Of vital importance is publicizing that employee feedback is encouraged and necessary and that the organization values their ideas. Decide the messages behind the listening activities deployed, and use them consistently, for example:
  • We know staff morale is low and want your help.
  • We need to save money and are looking for ideas on how to best achieve that.
  • We want to add to our top line and need your feedback on opportunities to look at.
Who does what in Stage One?
Leaders should be visible, approachable and well-briefed, so that they can field employee questions. Interaction should be face-to-face whenever possible. Key messages should also be developed and be used as part of regular, ongoing internal communication activities.
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