Keeping Employees Onboard When the Rough Waters Subside

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Keeping Employees Onboard When the Rough Waters Subside

  1. 1. May 27, 2009 D i x & E ATo n emerging trends Keeping Employees Onboard When the Rough Waters Subside By Lisa Rose, Senior Managing Director Jobs may be scarce and employees less likely to jump ship these days, but are you doing enough to keep them onboard? Talented employees have options, even in a soft market. If you are not keeping them engaged you may find yourself rowing upstream when the economy recovers. The recovery will create plentiful alternatives that may seem like improvements to employees who have seen too many of their friends and colleagues battered by the current economic storm and had their own sense of career and financial security washed overboard. In the meantime, they’ll be demanding a clearer look at the course you’ve charted and may not hesitate to seek smoother sailing elsewhere. Research demonstrates that companies with highly engaged employees find it easier to attract top talent, enjoy higher levels of employee productivity and experience lower turnover. Because communication has a direct and positive impact on employee engagement, what you do now can help minimize the future exodus. Here are three tips for reaching out. • Articulate a vision. According to Gallup, 5 million people in the United States have lost their jobs since the recession began. The housing and credit markets are struggling and consumer confidence is down. The challenge today is managing fear and, at the same time, building hope about a future your employees can believe in. Employees need to know how their company will survive during the downturn, and what to focus on to help it succeed. Help them look beyond the current moment and see a future for the organization – and for themselves. • Treat them as adults. Perhaps the most revealing comment I’ve heard recently came from a CEO whose company had been struggling through the economic downturn and was eventually sold. “I realized that every day 5,000 adults woke up, got dressed and came to work for us,” he told me. “So I decided to treat them as adults.” As a leader, you have a responsibility to be honest and direct. Don’t run from bad news. Take time to listen to employees and respond accordingly, which will go a long way in improving engagement and showing employees that you respect them as adults. • Market to employees. While most companies understand the importance of marketing to customers, many underestimate the importance of communicating a brand message to a key audience – your own employees. Companies that are willing to donate the time and resources to developing an internal brand will have an engaged work force that equips them with a competitive edge that will position them well for the recovery. While buy-in at all levels is key, it is especially critical to get top ranks involved early on. Leaders have to define and articulate objectives to the work force at large, and need to link the brand to the future direction of the company. Calmer economic seas do lie ahead, even if they are not yet showing up on radar. Your employees can help you navigate through the rough waters, so it’s important that they believe you’re all on the right course. If you’d like to discuss further, please contact Lisa Rose, Senior Managing Director – 216-241-4606 – lrose@dix-eaton.com 2 0 0 Public SquArE S u i T E 14 0 0 c l E v E l A n D , o h i o 4 4114 2 16 . 2 41. 0 4 0 5 w w w. D i x- E AT o n . c o M

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