Helping the Workforce Through Four Tough Scenarios
Businesses go through tough times, as do the individuals who populate them. Without the right approach from HR representatives and business leaders, things can quickly spin out of control and lead to irreversible damage. Here, we select four challenging scenarios and offer tips and advice on how you can maintain motivation among the workforce.
Offering guidance and support to staff members is central to what HR brings to the operation of any business. At no point is the role of HR more indispensable than during a period of difficulty for either an individual or the company overall.
But how do you approach these challenges, and what tactics will be the most effective for different circumstances? We select four typical scenarios and lay out exactly how you can help the workforce come out stronger on the other side.
An Individual Misses His or Her Targets
Targets are part of the makeup of working life, but when an individual starts to miss them, stress levels can intensify, and motivation can quickly spiral downward.
At times like this, employees need the support of those around them more than ever. Your first task is to decipher the cause of the downturn in performance. Has there been a breakdown in a working relationship, or is something personal affecting work performance?
Find out what has changed, and then you can take appropriate action. To do this, you could employ the “Five-Why” technique. After asking the employee “why” five times, you should find yourself at the root cause of the issue.
Once you have that, decide on an appropriate course of action. Is more training required? Do you need to reshuffle your resources to provide more support? Do expectations need to be realigned? As an HR worker, employees may be more open to discussing work-related issues with you rather than their manager, allowing you to get the entire picture.
Poor performance can be a lonely place, particularly when it centers on an individual—so this is a time to provide an extra level of support. Check in regularly to see if any changes have had a positive effect, and work with your business leader to offer positive reinforcement on all the good he or she is doing.
Team Resources Don’t Stretch Far Enough
Stress levels and resentment can quickly set in when a team doesn’t have the resources to complete their tasks. As you look to address the issue for the long term, it’s important to implement short-term measures to maintain motivation.
Start by reassuring staff that this is a temporary situation. Working through a busy couple of weeks is something that happens in every business, but the longer the strain goes on, the harder it will be to maintain performance. Shine a light on the end of the tunnel, and don’t let this new frenetic way of working become the norm—otherwise, you’ll quickly see staff heading for the exit.
When time has become even more of a premium in the workplace, anything that doesn’t affect the bottom line comes under even closer scrutiny, but this is a time when employee engagement should be at the forefront of your mind.
Over-communicate with staff, checking in with each of them to collect regular feedback. Be visible, letting your team know you’re available for a chat. In these scenarios, buttoning up can result in conflict. Try to create unity by endorsing communication.
When the work eases, be sure to reward your team. The situation has probably led to late nights, heightened tensions, and copious amounts of stress. Rewarding hard work will restate how valuable employees are to you and encourage them to keep up the hard work.
A Worker Is Affected by a Personal Issue
Everyone goes through things in his or her personal life that can drastically change his or her state of mind. HR workers play an imperative role in that individual’s well-being.
As is always the case when things affect an individual, you must open a line of communication. The person is likely to be feeling isolated by the situation, so make yourself as approachable as possible without being overbearing.
Everyone deals with tough personal circumstances differently. You need to be on hand to offer support however he or she chooses to deal with the situation.
It may be best to give those employees a couple of days away from the office, where they can remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of a busy environment. Alternatively, some find the daily routine work provides to be a welcome distraction. Whichever proves to be the right solution, you should let the employees lead this process.
Ultimately, your role here is to be a sounding board for someone who might need to talk things through.
The Company Is Going Through a Bad Financial Period
Despite all the hard work you and your team put in every day, sometimes results just aren’t forthcoming. While this can be frustrating, it isn’t the time to close yourself off from the team or abandon your efforts to keep spirits high.
Without your employees, you won’t be able to reverse your recent bad spell. Inspiring them to put in the extra effort starts by being open and honest.
Employees will not appreciate being left in the dark, and that will only fuel speculation in the office. Be honest about the company’s predicament, and involve employees in agreeing on a solution.
Empower leaders within your group to take responsibility, giving them extra motivation to go above and beyond. Employ all-in tactics to strengthen the bond of your workforce—there is nothing that brings people together quite like a crisis.
When you’ve outlined your strategy, lead from the front. Don’t let people see you shirking your responsibilities; it’ll encourage others to do the same.
Again, rewards are important when things begin to look rosier, and it could lead to them carrying that effort into their role on a long-term basis.
Travis May is CEO of Tollfreeforwarding.com, providing U.S. toll-free numbers to 25,000 customers spanning 125 countries worldwide.
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