The current climate is not only affecting business profitability but also staff morale, with employee satisfaction rates at their lowest since 2009, according to a recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Further research carried out by mental health charity, Mind, revealed that 41% of people are stressed by their jobs, with a worrying seven out of 10 feeling that their boss was unlikely to help them cope more effectively.
If, as these studies suggest, staff morale does begin to suffer before management action has been taken, then the effects on an organisation will be clear for all to see. Companies rely on their employees for the day-to-day running of the business and if morale is low, it severely impacts the whole organisation.
In the current unstable economic climate and with general confidence in job security decreasing, it is vital that HR implement appropriate policies and training to ensure that staff feel valued and the organisation can function at its full potential.
With the Mind survey also showing that levels of trust between employers and employees are falling, it is likewise essential that HR and management do all that they can to ensure personnel are happy. Such action is crucial to reap the benefits of a satisfied and, therefore, productive workforce.
Sharon Goldie, a consultant at assistive technology specialist iansyst Ltd, provides seven top tips to help HR directors ensure employee satisfaction:
1 Encourage high levels of communication:
Nobody likes feeling that they are being kept in the dark so ensure that there are high levels of communication between employees and managers both on a one-to-one basis and in the form of group meetings. Ensuring that everybody knows what developments are occurring within the organisation as well as what is expected of them enables them to work together and towards the same targets more effectively.
2 Be accessible to staff:
Ensuring that both you and other managerial colleagues are accessible will help workers to feel more supported which will, in turn, mean that they have more confidence in the management team. Being accessible will also provide people with opportunities to raise any issues they may have to ensure that they are resolved quickly and efficiently and do not develop into something more serious.
3 Encourage management to acknowledge achievements and set targets:
Feeling valued is one the most important contributors to high levels of staff satisfaction. Ensure that employees know how much they are valued within the company and be careful to highlight their achievements.
People are generally motivated by being given targets. Encourage managers to set their staff reasonable goals so that they are aware of the direction the company is moving in. Acknowledge when those targets have been hit and highlight the positive effects that this has had on the organisation.
4 Be flexible and offer alternatives:
If staff are stressed or worried about factors outside of the workplace such as childcare, travel costs or caring for a relative, they will not be able to dedicate themselves fully to their roles. Therefore, if it is feasible, try to be flexible to accommodate their individual circumstances.
Working from home, altering working hours or going part-time can all help employees deal with challenges outside of the workplace and putting such options on the table will show them how valued they are – and free them up to work more effectively. Studies have shown, for example, that 42% of businesses offering flexible working options saw a positive impact on labour turnover.
5 Spot the signs of mental health issues and implement an effective mental health policy:
Because of established links between economic downturn and increased rates of mental health issues, it is important that HR implement an effective mental health policy. It is also vital that signs of mental health difficulties are spotted early to prevent them developing further and to ensure that sufficient support is offered. If an employee’s behaviour changes dramatically or they are suddenly unable to cope with their usual workload, HR should be there to provide advice.
6 Invest in staff development:
If budgets allow, suggest appropriate staff training schemes, not least to demonstrate that the company is keen to invest both time and money into both their future and that of the company. Such a move should help to boost feelings of job security.
Again if budgets allow, make time for socialising or bonding outside of the workplace. By being accessible and approachable in a relaxed environment, staff will feel assured that they have the full support of HR and the management team, which can help to remove any possible staff divides. Social events also give employees an opportunity to communicate with their peers, potentially opening communication channels that can help to boost productivity in the workplace.
Sharon Goldie, consultant at assistive technology specialist, iansyst Ltd.