While many are saying that the recession has “bottomed out”, most experts also believe that the unemployment rate is not going to improve soon.   Your employees are probably feeling fairly lucky to have a job, and they aren’t going to leave on their own anytime soon.  With employees more anxious about keeping their jobs and with little threat of them looking elsewhere, one might think that productivity should not be a concern.  However keeping your employees engaged could be a bigger problem than you think.

Employees may be experiencing a variety of fears and emotions today.   Most of your employees have not gone through anything like this economic time.   Not only are they afraid of losing their job, but they also know that today’s job market is tough and getting another job could take months.  Even if they like the job they have now, they still may feel trapped; this could cause additional stress or resentment.  Fear, resentment and, frustration are not emotions that are conducive to high engagement. 

It is as important now as it ever was to work on employee engagement.  These economic times are presenting some unique challenges and deciding to do nothing could backfire.  Here are some constructive things that could improve engagement and productivity.

  • Timely and honest communication should be a priority.
  • Promote a feeling of “we are in this together”.  Make sure the workforce knows that you understand and emphasis with their concerns. 
  • Focus on critical business goals:  This can help give your employees a sense of control as they can direct their efforts to improve business performance and give them more security.
  • Additional Training: Training opportunities will focus your employees on empowerment rather than helplessness. 
  • Have some fun:  A pizza party once in awhile or some other fun activity can be inexpensive, but a great way to keep moral up.  Having fun with your employees is a great way to improve engagement.

Actually when you think about it, the above items are good to do all the time.   Employee engagement is a year round effort; don’t take time off because there is recession.