Boosting morale: As economy improves, alleviate “recession fatigue”

As the economy improves and businesses begin to see an increase in sales, employers are now struggling to boost employee morale in a work force experiencing burnout. According to Labor Department estimates, the U.S. economy generated the same output in the fourth quarter of 2010 with 7 million fewer workers compared to three years ago.

In “Maintaining Employee Morale During the Recession,” author Barry Shore writes: “Lower morale can translate into ‘recession fatigue.’ This is a situation where the company experiences a series of problems that include a decline in productivity, deteriorating customer service, increased sick days taken, falling sales, higher costs and lower profits.”

A recent poll conducted by the Gallup Organization indicated that dissatisfied workers result in 51 percent higher turnover as well as greater absenteeism and lower productivity for businesses.

It’s clear morale affects employee performance. So when things seem to be looking brighter on the business end — but employees still feel underappreciated in the workplace — employers must find ways to re-engage their top talent.

Now is the time to take a proactive approach within your company before your workplace is plagued with “employee fatigue.”

Workers face a housing market in shambles, high gasoline prices, uncertainty about their professional futures and, in some cases, lower wages and longer hours. All of this can cause increased anxiety and stress at work and at home.

With heavier workloads and workplace stress on the rise, many employees feel overworked, unappreciated and underpaid. In most cases, morale suffers. Moreover, workers often feel anxious about the uncertainty of their futures with the company even a management expects them to do more with fewer resources even as they work longer hours.

Lack of communication can drive down employee morale and increase stress. According to the results of an Express Employment Professionals survey of 15,070 current and former clients, 62 percent of company leaders attributed increased workload and 35 percent attributed poor communication to low employee morale.

Communication is critical to successfully managing employee fears and concerns, and now is the time to start. As the economy improves, take time to reassure employees about your company’s strategy and how each and every employee plays an important role in achieving company goals. Without open lines of communication, employees could harbor feelings of distrust and misunderstanding that could push them to search for new job opportunities.

As the economy gets back on track, it’s time for businesses to follow suit. A boost in company morale can go a long way to better your business.

According to the results of the Express Employment Professionals survey, 50 percent of respondents indicated companies can raise employee morale by recognizing accomplishments and 42 percent stated that creating a fun environment also can increase morale.

Remember, if employee morale increases, then customer satisfaction, service quality and productivity should increase as well.

Engaged employees are passionate about their workplaces and willing to go above and beyond to help a business succeed. A little more communication, encouragement and appreciation can go a long way in boosting employee morale.