“You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” – Winston Churchill
I recall this quotation to draw parallels to our present economic situation. The media is flush with countless news on the great resignation, the talent crunch, and quiet quitting. But all is not doom and gloom. This is the moment to seize, and leaders need to embrace the current economic outlook as an opportunity to retain top talent and maximize productivity. Despite the corporate belt tightening and hemorrhaging bottom lines, organizations needn’t slash budgets when it comes to investing in skilling and training programs. According to Forbes, companies need to invest in the right areas to foster a thriving workforce. By carving out niche funds for talent development initiatives, employers retain the cream of the crop. Enterprises ensure top performers foresee bright career paths by boosting morale and keeping them productive and engaged.
During the Dallas Executive Symposium on the topic of developing and retaining employees, I had the privilege to rub elbows with stellar leaders—Laura Iannelli, Vice President of Business Development-Cyber & Intelligence at Mastercard, Chris Mashburn, COO at Jorie Healthcare Partners LLC, and Garrett Mintz, the founder of Ambition In Motion LLC. We discussed how the recession had put immense pressure on companies to maintain high productivity levels with limited resources. Here are pragmatic insights from the panelists.
Transparency in communications
Research by Gallup indicates that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement levels. Clear and open conversations with employees go a long way in calming frayed nerves. At a time when employees tend to conjure up worst-case scenarios about the future, asking employees for their take on various aspects of their work lends a personal touch and draws out the best in them. Leaders can be realistic about the market realities with an approachable managerial style that breaks down walls and brings back those positive vibes. Reconfiguring the physical workspace and surveying your teams on what ambiance suits them best goes a long way. Despite the week’s busyness, make time for those lunches, casual huddles, team-building games, and one-on-one sessions.
Part of transparent communication is soliciting employee feedback and inputs via surveys, open-door policies, employee focus groups, and employee roundtables. Feedback allows companies to foster an engaged and productive work environment and create a culture that values employee input.
Employees are your greatest assets, and what better way to develop and retain them than by taking care of their well-being? Acknowledging their difficult times and providing practical support is critical. Remove stigma around topics of mental health. Incentivize employees by giving them points for signing up for wellness webinars, which they can use to earn gift cards, wellness reimbursements, or a reduction on the insurance premium for the following year. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help you offer support while allowing employees to stay anonymous. Studies show that businesses with EAPs have lower levels of employee work fatigue and higher levels of organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and social support. Help your teams to learn how to cope with stress, anxiety, and behavioral issues with health apps, virtual sessions, or workplace healthcare. Have better conversations around wellness at work.
Few things are more likely to create frustration and resentment than rescinding benefits that employees have come to expect. A pay cut or a withdrawal of bonus payments may ease the balance sheet in the short term, but this may later reflect in lost productivity or a dent in your workplace culture. Recognizing the individual contributions of the employees is a powerful way to keep them engaged and could also contribute to employee engagement during the recession. My company offers a global Rewards & Recognitions (RnR) framework that considers various attributes such as culture, performance, and learning. According to Forbes, rewards and incentives keep workers motivated and reinforce company goals at a time when merit budgets are negligible or nonexistent, promotions are few, and overall job satisfaction is paltry.
Employee development and training can be a great way to empower employees who feel uncertain about the future or doubt whether their skills are still valuable. Upskilling and reskilling programs tops the enterprise workforce charter as employers look to equip their workforce for fast-changing market demands, especially in the tech sector. Gartner advises that HR leaders must build skill preparedness for today and the future, and their approach is even more critical.
Now is the opportunity to do things differently. The collective insights of panelists come from years of experience in the trenches and are worth putting into practice right away.
Author: Syriac Joswin, Senior Vice President, Movate