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Teach managers to support staff during crunch time

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Issue: Overworked and underappreciated: a recipe for brisk employee turnover.

Benefit: By teaching supervisors how to support employees during periodic peak times, you'll improve retention.

Action: Have managers use these four simple steps to reach out to stressed-out workers.

While many retail employers just plowed through their busiest season, other organizations experience peak seasons in the summer or during tax season. Whenever your crazy time is, you'll end up losing some of your best employees if they're overworked and underappreciated.

Encourage supervisors to follow these four steps to support employees during those times:

1. Acknowledge employees' efforts. Make sure employees know that you recognize how hard they're working. Some managers believe that if they don't talk about it, employees won't notice it. That's wrong. They'll resent you for not addressing it.

2. Explain reasons for the heavier workload. Oftentimes, employees will accept the extra work as long as they understand why it's happening. Level with them up front. If, for example, budget pressures prevent the hiring of extra staff right now, say so. Also, point to a light at the end of the tunnel—an estimate of when work will return to "normal."

3. Provide extra resources. Managers should ask employees what they can do to help survive the rush. Do they have the equipment they need? Would hiring interns or temps help? If employees think their manager is truly interested in helping them survive the onslaught, they won't bolt from the company at their first chance.

4. Drop the low-priority projects. Do anything you can to relieve the pressure a bit. Can you eliminate certain less important projects (or put them on hold)? Cut as much as possible, so workers can focus on the top priorities.

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