by Roy Saunderson | November 19, 2010
While the national economy is progressing slowly toward recovery, uncertainty remains for many Americans. As we still face many unknowns, both big and small and short and long term, the U.S. workforce continues to face distractions, such as overexertion and worry over job security. They can make the quality and timing of company deliverables vulnerable. Here are the top 10 ways to keep the company “train” running on time. 

1. Hold regular team or staff meetings. Keep everyone posted on the latest company developments and be up front about the unknowns. Consistent communication and awareness-building are essential.

2. Emphasize the importance of looking after oneself. Provide company and external health and wellness information, including tips for getting proper rest, nutrition, and exercise to keep physically and mentally fit.

3. Treat missed work days with sensitivity. Stress is real and creates physical manifestations that mirror illnesses. The key to dealing with absences is direct contact with the employee to identify the problem. Express that you miss the staff member and socially reinforce his or her presence upon return.

4. Rally people to help fellow employees. Work with unions, human resources, and employee volunteers to solicit donations, gifts, and food for colleagues affected by the economy. Be mindful that your employee might be fine but a spouse could be overwhelmed. Make sure your managers are mindful and informed of sensitive and private matters.

5. Take the bull by the horns. Employee involvement breeds commitment, so use pre-shift meetings to solicit ideas for efficiency and quality improvement and forward them to management for consideration.

6. Give regular one-on-one feedback. During tough times, people doubt their abilities and need to know how they are doing. Lack of recognition has been identified as a source of stress that is independent of the general turmoil we are in. So give specific, meaningful praise and recognition as often as you can.

7. Ensure the company liaison person is a trusted representative. Workers need to know they don’t have to shoot the messenger and that their concerns will always be sent back to management the way they were described. 

8. Prepare for “what if” scenarios. Determine who might lose the most, whether it is a job loss or a change in job position. Set the stage for these individuals by starting some job planning and job coaching before any necessary negative company moves.

9. Deal with the real emotions first. Provide genuine sympathy and acknowledgment of employees’ roller coaster of emotions and psychological stresses that are present with current and anticipated company changes. Set up and increase employee-assistance program support and credit counseling services.

10. Deal with personal situations. Each person’s life holds a different set of circumstances. Listen to the employee carefully and without interruption, determine the harsh realities quickly, and demonstrate genuine concern. Supervisors must make more one-on-one face time with employees during these uncertain times. 

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Recognition Way and president of the Recognition Management Institute,, which consults companies on improving employee motivation that leads to increased productivity and profit. He can be reached at [email protected] Also, tune in every Tuesday to his radio show, Real Recognition Radio