The economy isn’t the only thing that’s in a slump these days. Plenty of workers are in the doldrums, too.
They feel stuck in their jobs because new ones are hard to come by. They can’t afford to retire. So they’re not performing as well as employees who look at their jobs as labors of love. HR can help get them back on track.
These eight ways to boostjust might work in your organization.
1. Walk the talk. Nearly half of employees feel that organizations put corporate values “on the wall” but don’t practice them, notes a study by research firm StrategyOne. Yet managers who exhibit corporate values can improve employees’ performance by 12%, according to data from the Corporate Executive Board.
Tip: Encourage workers to bring problems to’s attention.
2. Ban busywork. The Families and Work Institute has found that more than half of employees feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do—much of which consists of pointless meetings and low-value tasks. Interruptions during the workday and unnecessary demands compound the problem.
Tip: Invite employees to evaluate the value of the work they do. They know where inefficiencies lurk.
3. Strut your stuff. Too many employees have no idea what your organization’s mission is—or their role in achieving it. According to StrategyOne, one-third report not caring much about their company and say they are mainly there to get a paycheck. Almost 40% don’t know what the main mission of their organization is, other than making money.
Tip: Tout your organization’s purpose. Encourage managers to huddle one-on-one with employees to communicate how they contribute.
4. Show and tell. Organizational behavior expert Adam Grant found that workers often underperform because they don’t understand why their work is significant. In an experiment, employees of a fundraising organization who read stories about people who benefited from the group’s donations doubled the number of donations they raised—because they increased the number of fundraising calls they made per hour.
5. Send ’em packing. Two-thirds of employees told Right Management pollsters they didn’t use all their vacation days last year. A quarter of workers in another survey said they were afraid they’d be fired if they took a day off.
Yet decades of research shows that employees who take vacations return to work refreshed, less stressed, more productive and happier.
Tip: Require employees to use all their vacation days every year.
6. Bring back balance. A tight job market and even tighter budgets have convinced some organizations to do away with the work/life benefits. But as staffing becomes leaner, those who are left are taking on more work—which leaves less time and energy for home.
Indeed, nearly 90% of employees in another StrategyOne poll say they see work/life balance as a problem, including 54% who called problem “significant.”
Tip: Even if your work/life budget is paltry, offer some no- or low-cost perks to help employees juggle work and family. Example: Arrange for office pickup and delivery from local dry cleaners and grocery stores.
7. Get on Facebook. Most companies use e-mail and intranets to communicate with employees. New research shows that social media is catching up as an effective alternative. The Performance Improvement Council recommends using blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, Wikis and other social networking forums to deliver real-time congratulations to employees who do good work and to share employee success stories.
8. Make money matter. Some of your organization’s employees are probably having trouble making ends meet. So they’re dipping into their retirement savings accounts and halting their 401(k) contributions.
At the same time, 60% of workers say the recession has made them more fiscally responsible and that maintaining a budget has become more important to them, according to a CareerBuilder survey.
Tip: Arrange for financial planning lectures. If you can afford it, sponsor one-on-one meetings with financial consultants.
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