If the title sounds like a modern business fable, maybe that’s because we’re living in one: Employers slash jobs to manage profitability in the wake of a poor economy. Employers push managers to do “more with less”. Managers actually pull off the miracle. Employers start to rethink the need to re-hire and re-invest. Joblessness becomes the new reality. Employee morale, engagement, and job satisfaction plummet. Workers unite in battle during a bloody revolution dubbed “the 4 day Blackberry War”.
Okay, so I made up that last part. But everything else is a true statement on the modern state of the workplace. Yes, many of the difficult decisions employers made regarding workforce reductions and compensations restrictions were necessary. Yes, in most cases they achieved their desired outcome and stabilized performance. That’s not my issue here. It seems that during a time defined by paralysis, too many leaders are willing to risk inaction over action. And the results are increasingly disengaged and unhappy employees (see the ConferenceBoard report “U.S. Job Satisfaction at Lowest Level in Two Decades”:http://www.conference-board.org/utilities/pressDetail.cfm?press_ID=3820)
Holding your existing employees hostage because they don’t have any other employment options is not a strategy. Employee’s who understood the business necessity, and even supported, the job/compensation/budget slashing actions of their employers, are quickly losing patience.
In the absence of a larger, more substantial organizational change, employers need to make positive improvements where they can:
Economic recovery is going to be slow and more difficult than we are all accustomed to. Right now all indicators point to employee dissatisfaction with how their employers are managing the process. Obviously there are constraints, but what’s being done today isn’t creating the positive momentum an organization needs to move forward.