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Reassuring Employees During Difficult Times





Keep employees happyA growing number of large corporations and Web 2.0 technology startups are making news with lay offs or reductions in force (RIFs). We’ve even started seeing schadenfreude-like news reports by people who somehow seem gleeful about other people losing their jobs. (I think that is misplaced fear about their own situations.)

Techcrunch has started the Layoff Tracker, which has been tracking job losses announced at tech companies. There’s even a tip form where you can submit a tip about a company that is laying off workers.

Circle back to your own business. In this kind of environment, your employees may be feeling unsettled … worried about their jobs. So you might want to get out in front and address your company’s situation with your employees, even if it’s simply to say “everything is perfectly OK and it’s business as usual.” You will re-assure them.

And if your company sales have slowed a bit, it’s even more important to address the situation, because employee imaginations may have kicked into overdrive.

Over at the OPEN Forum I give 5 tips for How to Talk with Employees About Tough Times:

In small businesses, especially, employees are much closer to what’s going on in the business. They will know if sales are slowing because they are dealing with orders each day. There are fewer departments and layers of management to obscure the company’s real condition. They also read the same newspapers, watch the same TV news, perhaps follow the same industry trade publications as you, the owner, do. So don’t think no news will be interpreted as good news.

It’s a fine line to know when is the right time to discuss the company’s finances with employees. You don’t want to alarm anyone unnecessarily but you also don’t want them jumping to the wrong conclusions because they aren’t getting information from you.

I am not suggesting that you spread doom and gloom. On the contrary, by talking with your people you may be able to dispel baseless fears — and make them feel much better — and stay productive. It is about reassuring your people. As Zane Safrit says, keep them happy.   🙂

11 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

11 Reactions
  1. I thinks it’s only fair to keep your employees tuned into the status of the business during these times. Their families and lives are depending on the employer and the business itself. Any employer with respect for their employees would warn them ahead of time before pulling the rug out from underneath them.

  2. I have to agree with Amanda’s thoughts here. The reassurance is nice and even if things get rough, if you’re truly a team, then speaking about it would be a given. Everyone’s in it together.

    Keeping your employees in the dark isn’t a tactic that will earn you their respect. Especially if something bad is looming in the very near future. We’re all adults and a direct approach is appreciated much more than avoidance.

    The tips offered are sure to give you a start when it comes to addressing the matter. And in times like this . . . you might want to start doing so, if for nothing more than a show of respect and building trust. And if there’s no bad news to report – even better still!

  3. Thanks Amanda and Chris — glad this resonated with you.

    And as an update to my article, I note that just because we hear about doom and gloom and layoffs, doesn’t mean that is affecting everyone. For intance, Twitter, the social media pplication, is hiring:

    http://twitter.com/help/jobs

    Anita

  4. On NPR this morning, an analyst stated that hiring for the holidays would be down 20% this year. Your employees have to be wondering what might happen to them. According to the Open Forum blog, it is best to keep your employees aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly things your store is going through in the recession. They suggest sharing financials with them, and helping them understand how their own decisions affect the bottom line. Good advice about open communications when many people just want to bury their heads in the sand.

  5. I thought your blog on Open Forum was super helpful ( as I stated above)! I featured it on our blog on GrabbignGreen.com. Thanks for the wonderful advice!

  6. Sad to know that there is a vast of layoffs today and a lot more were unemployed. But no matter what, we just have to be honest to our dear employees “to keep them happy” and if that means to reassure them then we must have to do it. 🙂

  7. Hey, btw, we are hiring too! I am currently looking for a content writer and a marketing manager. 🙂

    Anita, I guess no matter how much the senior management of any company talks, they can’t really over communicate with their employees. Talking about the status of the company on a regular basis helps reassure the employees about the direction it’s going. I would say, in a small business, (i.e. under 10 people), if employees don’t really know how the business is doing, then probably, you should be talking to your employees more often.

    Chaitanya
    http://www.p2w2.com/blog

  8. Hi Chaitanya, you raise a great point. In my past corporate life, one of my colleagues was fond of saying something that stuck with me: “You have to strive to over-communicate, just in order to communicate enough with employees.”

    Of course, in the press of daily business we forget that important lesson. The days slip by, and we don’t realize that we’ve stopped communicating.

    So do what I did yesterday: stop everything and communicate with your people about how things are going. Since my people are scattered remotely, I did it through email. It took just 10 minutes, but it’s probably the most important 10 minutes in your day.

    — Anita

  9. Apart from communicating openly, action is also needed. Reward your top performers. Incentivize them in their work. If you want to keep surviving and thriving through this crisis, you have to continue investing in your top people.

    From our blog: http://blog.trinet.com/index.php/site/comments1/double_down_on_top_talent/

  10. And yes, there might be wide layoffs but I learned a couple of businesses were also hiring. So, this is why I’m keeping myself positive on things.

  11. “I am not suggesting that you spread doom and gloom. ” – Yes, it may not be good to hear but if I am into that company I would prefer them to be honest to their employees.

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