Every company wants happy and productive employees. But, in a world full of uncertainty, many employees are worried, stressed, and disengaged.
In fact, according to recent studies, 73% of American professionals are feeling burned-out and people in the U.S. are more unhappy today than they’ve been in nearly 50 years. 50 years!
This is tough to hear (and experience), and, the uncertainty isn’t going away anytime soon.
So, how can we help employees feel more positive and engaged?
Stop waiting, start planning for the future
Most companies have likely spent the last few months in survival mode—triaging, mitigating, and trying to stay in business. Today, while there are still challenges to face, many of the hardest decisions have been made. In a great article on Business.com, Gina Miller says, “Many companies are on the backside of this stage. They have reduced their workforce, changed what they needed to change and are surviving. Now, they’re just waiting.” This perpetual state of waiting is part of the problem.
Re-invent your company’s long-term vision and goals
Everything is different now. There is no “going back to normal” and much of that 5-year vision you carefully crafted last year is out the window. Although letting go of the old plan can be upsetting, this is an extraordinary opportunity to re-envision “what’s next” for your organization. Get your team excited about finding new and interesting ways you can compete in this new world. While acknowledging today’s continuing challenges, be sure to communicate to your team the intentional shift from mitigation-only to future-forward action.
Let employees be part of the change
Right now everybody wants a chance to be “part of the solution”. So, it’s important to make your employees part of the re-invention process. After all, nobody knows your business better than they do. Ask them for input through surveys, assessments, focus groups, idea boxes, task forces, and “town halls”. Create idea incentives, take their input seriously, and let them weigh in on what concepts are most exciting. Not only will this encourage employees to think beyond today’s uncertainty, but it will also help them feel connected to each and the future of the business.
Emphasize employee development
As your new vision and plans come into focus, start looking for ways to help employees plan their own future—by helping them find development opportunities that will benefit the company and their careers. Focus on the skills and expertise employees will need to help the company succeed in the coming months and years down the line.
Don’t forget your company purpose
Even before COVID, 90% of employees said they’d be “willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work.” The need for purpose and meaning is even stronger now. Whether your company purpose also needs an update or whether it’s still standing strong, help each employee understand the power of your purpose and the part they play in fulfilling it today and in the future.
Right now, dealing with employee burn out might feel like a hopeless situation, but you can change hopelessness into hope with a renewed focus on the future of your organization and your employees.
If you’re looking for senior leaders to take your company to the next level, Salo can help. Our senior- and executive-level consultants in HR, finance, and accounting help organizations of all kinds succeed. Connect with me on LinkedIn and we’ll get in touch. I’d love to learn more about your needs.