Teach bosses to support staff at crunch time

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Overworked and underappreciated is a recipe for brisk employee turnover. Every organization runs into time crunches—sometimes predictable, sometimes sudden emergencies. How managers handle their employees can make a world of difference in morale—and even retention.

Retail employees get slammed during the holidays. For tax pros, it’s all hands on deck in March and April.

Whenever your crazy time is, you could lose some of your best employees if they feel taken for granted.

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 why the load is heavier

Often, 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 hiring 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

Bosses 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 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.

Note: You can require nonexempt employees to work overtime, as long as you pay them time-and-a-half for hours worked above 40 in a week. What you can’t do: Offer comp time instead of overtime pay.

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