2022 is coming to a close, and the events of the year have led many to believe that economic troubles are on the 2023 horizon. Rounds of layoffs and pay cuts are coming in droves, while the cost of living is becoming less sustainable for those who have been comfortable so far. But there are solutions available.
You may be concerned about the state of your business, and if that isn’t difficult enough, employees may be feeling anxious about their personal finances. Yet, there are some positives even with all this uncertainty. This is an area where your human resources department can shine.
Just because the future is uncertain, that doesn’t mean the workplace environment should crumble. In fact, it’s important that times like these keep the workplace culture stronger than ever.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when addressing economic uncertainty for your employees.
The Internet is a mess of information, and whether that information is true or not isn’t always something we can easily determine. We live in a culture where it’s much simpler to scan over a headline and draw conclusions from it than to read the details. And with clickbait as strong as ever, misinformation can spread like wildfire.
When speaking on important subjects like a potential recession, it’s important that the HR team be backed by cold, hard facts. Do your research and provide real data and numbers. Cite your sources with links in case people would like to learn more. Remind people that the US has the world’s largest economy and that any numbers reflected must take that into account when assessing any kind of economic situation.
Make sure your HR department is regularly up to date on these facts and research, and that they have access to the resources they need to keep employees informed, as well. Communication is important, and dispelling any misinformation as soon as possible is essential to keep your staff calm, collected and informed.
Optimism is important, but so is being realistic. Employees will see right through you if you simply ignore what is going on in the world or act like it will not affect the company. Before your employees can sink beneath the surface of their own doubt, remind them of the reality we live in and assure them that we will get through this. Your team needs your empathy in difficult times, and you cannot offer that empathy if you don’t acknowledge the reality behind their concerns.
Emphasize Your Plan
If the business at any point had trouble during the initial onset of the 2020 pandemic, referencing the tactics used during that time period could come in handy.
While a recession and a pandemic are not the same thing, they both come with a level of economic uncertainty coupled with a fear of general wellbeing. How the business handled lockdown, financial management, and employee morale during the pandemic is a testament to the skill and integrity of its management and employees.
While there is no way to avoid impact, some of the practices in place for COVID-19 procedures apply to countless other world events. Survey results concluded that common traits found among businesses that survived the pandemic were older businesses that used digital technology. This likely means the business needs didn’t change that much.
Whether this was the case for your company or not, you likely had no choice but to implement changes to procedures and workplace environment in order to keep business afloat. In addition, you had to assure staff that their health and safety was important while taking into account global health standards that were being employed.
When things are out of your control, you can make the necessary changes to stay in business while ensuring your employees feel safe. A well thought out plan will help with that.
Communicate Clearly and Effectively
Clear communication is the key to great employee experience now more than ever. Sending out messages and having meetings with the staff so that everyone stays informed is only step one. Let employees ask questions so they can address their own specific concerns. Make sure to promote open dialogue and an understanding environment.
Many of us are already facing burnout with the struggles of balancing work and life during these difficult times. Maintaining a workplace culture that is understanding of these facts is key to keeping your staff assured. Let them know what steps you are taking by referencing our first two points.
Employees should feel safe coming to HR with their concerns. In that sense, you should be prepared for any questions they may have and to assuage them. An “Open door policy” is easy to claim, but putting it into practice is a different challenge. Or, utilize pulse surveys to gauge the mood of your company.
Have the communications team start conversations to show that you’re open for dialogue, or make sure your team members have someone within management or human resources they feel comfortable with.
Maintain Your Values
Workplace values should have been established upon hiring your staff, but if they don’t hold up during a crisis, they may as well not even exist.
66% of employees believe their salary cannot keep up with inflation. That same survey suggests that employees are likely to leave a job whose values do not align with their own. Both of these concerns can be addressed during this time of uncertainty while upholding core business values. The best way to do this is ensuring that employees feel like they are cared for and valued for who they are, not just what they represent to the company.
The truth is, we have no idea what the future holds, and given current events, it is even more difficult to determine what comes next. Now that you have the tools you need to reassure your employees during these times, you too can continue your job feeling a little more assured and empowered.
Now more than ever, it is important to maintain a sense of camaraderie. Your employees are going to rely on you to maintain a level head, so keep confident, informed, and empathetic. Show your staff that you value them as people and that you want everyone to make it through whatever the future holds, for the business and for the world.