Workplace Stress: What to Do During Down Times?

The main problem in a down economy is that workplaces tend to become stressful and morale bottoms out. This reduces overall productivity and especially gets in the way of teamwork. Here are some approaches that go beyond cash rewards, stock options or other silver-lined benefit packages to keep employees engaged during an economic downturn. Sometimes, simple works best.

Have informal coffee talks.
Pull an entire work team together to openly talk about what's going on in the world and how it affects business. Encourage employee questions. This decreases negative rumors and also gets employees focused on work rather than on griping.

Offer stress relief activities.
Hire a local massage school to offer free 10-minute chair massages once a week. A distinctive and fun way for a company to convey that it recognizes the rough times and it cares about their staff's well-being.

Create future teams.
The goal of these employee teams is to investigate new business development options that are either focused (how to move inventory) or wide open (identify potential customers in new areas). By encouraging workers to focus on the future, motivation levels rise quickly.

Support community involvement.
Provide company time for teams of employees to serve dinner at a local shelter, help build houses, adopt a family for a holiday, or collect money for a common charity. It not only serves as a motivator in that people feel they are doing something with a purpose but also creates a positive public image.

Make people feel valuable.
Talk with key employees about the types of projects, training, or experiences they would like to have. Times may be tough for people to get jobs, but your best people are also the most marketable. One of the main reasons people leave or are unmotivated is because they don't feel valued by their manager or company.

Marcia Zidle, the 'people smarts' coach, works with business leaders to quickly solve their people management headaches so they can concentrate on their #1 job ? to grow and increase profits. She offers free help through Leadership Briefing, a weekly e-newsletter with practical tips on leadership style, employee motivation, recruitment and retention and relationship management.

Subscribe by going to http://leadershiphooks.com and get the bonus report "61 Leadership Time Savers and Life Savers". Marcia is the author of the What Really Works Handbooks ? resources for managers on the front line and the Power-by-the-Hour programs ? fast, convenient, real life, affordable courses for leadership and staff development. She is available for media interviews, conference presentations and panel discussions on the hottest issues affecting the workplace today. Contact Marcia at 800-971-7619.

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