Firms can ease staff anxiety in downturn

Employers should play role in helping to alleviate stress level of their workers, as fears over job cuts loom at back of employees' minds in current economic climate.
Written by Sol E. Solomon, Contributor on

In the current economic climate where workers are under pressure to perform amid worries about retrenchments, employers have a part to play in lessening the stress and fears of their staff.

Josephine Teo, secretary general of Singapore's National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said it is important employers give their staff regular updates on the company's business conditions and measures taken to improve business performance.

To further engage them in a positive way, employees should also be allowed to generate ideas and jointly tackle challenges with their employers, said Teo in an e-mail interview.

"This will give staff a greater sense of ownership and commitment," she said.

Anthony McMahon, vice president of software and solutions, Hewlett-Packard Asia Pacific and Japan, noted that companies can also provide opportunities for their IT departments to have more business-oriented dialog with end-users so these IT professionals can get "their hands deeper in the business".

This way, McMahon explained, the IT team is instrumental in improving the overall customer experience, as well as customer attraction and retention. Ultimately, this translates to an elevation of the technology team's core capabilities--both from a business and IT perspective, he said in an e-mail.

Companies should also outline plans on how they plan to enhance the skills of their technical staff in areas that are not only relevant today but also in the future, he said.

For example, many IT workers continue to handle large volumes of repetitive tasks that can otherwise be automated. McMahon explained that automating these tasks allows talented employees to focus on innovation and creativity while driving more productivity for the business.

This has a positive impact on staff retention as it enables employees to move to more "value-add" projects, thus, providing both a career path and attrition mitigation, he said.

Organizations should seek to enhance the professional growth development of their staff through training opportunities that help improve their skills, he added.

Teo said staff will also appreciate gestures of care and concern, such as informal get-togethers. "The key is to be sincere and considerate toward staff, and they will in turn reciprocate by giving their best to the organization," she said.

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