It’s fine for presidential candidates to talk about how they understand workers who feel the stress of today’s economy. But it’s HR that will have to deal with the problem at its most basic level.
You don’t need to listen to a debate to know life is going to be tougher for a lot of people, including those who come to your workplace every day. People are edgy about it, too, and they’re likely to show that edge in the way they behave and perform. And people on edge are more likely to sue or file other complaints against their employers.
Employee-relations specialists say HR can expect that dealing with stressed workers will become a big part of the job over the next several months. Some suggestions for helping people through tough times:
- If you have layoffs, cutbacks or other bad news: Don’t let it dribble out. If possible, let people know all at once and as soon as possible about the bad news. That won’t make anyone happy, but it will create less stress and avoid an atmosphere in which people are always looking over their shoulders.
- If you hear rumors: Jump on them right away, and let employees know the truth. It’s not that you’re ever going to stop the rumor mill from grinding, but at times like this, you have to address them with employees immediately. People are expecting the worst these days, so the longer a rumor lives, the worse it will get.
- If you sense negativity: Be positive. Sure, that’s easy to say, but there are a hundred little ways you can create a positive atmosphere. Example: When you hear someone say something good about another employee, pass it along to that employee — “Hey, Bob mentioned what a great job you did on that rush order.”