Current worldwide economic woes are extremely worrying for a lot of business people...and with good cause. We have seen the demise of a number of major financial institutions and extreme downsizing at a myriad of North American Corporations. Small businesses are dropping like flies on a daily basis. Despite the old adage desperate times call for desperate measures, during this downward spike in our economy we must maintain one major principle: We must preserve a culture of pride, quality and performance amongst our employees. Our people will take us through this current recession and support us while we are down...IF, AND ONLY IF we give them strong reasons for loyalty to us.
Keep in mind that even if your business survives the recession and prosperity returns within a reasonable time frame, it will be followed almost immediately by a worldwide labour shortage. The shortage will be at its worst here in North America where overall birth rates are the lowest. If you plan to continue on in business for the next decade and beyond, you must cultivate the loyalties of your employees by creating a culture of success NOW. Economists indicate that immigration application rates to the USA and Canada are at an all time high, but remember that immigrants require a greater level of training and naturalization than the employees you have now. You might be able to fill the vacancies in your employee manifest with folks from other countries, but if you lose the knowledge base of your current employees, your production will suffer for an indeterminate length of time.
If you are an employee, be aware that the current recession like every other economic crisis, will pass. When that occurs, the best of you will be living in a world of opportunity. Hone your skills now, learn your trade, increase your knowledge and populate your resume’. This is valuable advice whether you expect to leave your current employer at some point in the future or not. The future world will need educated, qualified people with experience and some degree of wisdom. Remember too, that in the future there will also be a shortage of good leaders; people who understand people and possess the ability to get the most out of each and every one of them. If you ever thought that you would like to try leadership, now is the time to start working toward that goal. Take some courses; make your employer aware of your desire to advance; become indispensable!
Employers need to accept the fact that the world is changing. The old ways of doing business will simply not work in the twenty first century. Generation “Y” will not bend to the demands of a dominant boss or an inflexible corporate structure. Many immigrants will not understand your methodologies, your work ethic, or in many cases, your language. Both groups will need a different work environment than that which you developed over the past decades. Business owners and leaders need to begin working for the future NOW. If you really do not understand your younger, Generation “Y” workers, YOU are the problem...not the young workers. You need to stop trying to make them more like you and you need to adopt methodologies they can identify with. Let’s face it, Generation “Y” is the largest generation since the Boomers and they will soon take over the world. There are fewer Boomers in the work-world every day and their grip on the throttle of the world’s economy is beginning to slip. Only those employers who recognize this undeniable truth and are willing to act on it will survive beyond the recession, thereby remaining household names decades from now.
If you don’t understand how to motivate your employees, create loyalty or build a culture of engagement, you need to learn now. If your production is slipping; if your performance is suffering; and/or if your profits are down, you need to learn how to do more with less. I am talking about more production with fewer resources and even fewer employees. The key to more with less is with your current employees. Become an open, honest employer with a transparent management plan. Let your people in on what you are doing, where you are going, and where you stand right now. More than ever in the history of North American business, employees want inclusion and a say in how their workplace runs. Give it to them! Stop hanging on to the old ways of doing business and start giving your employees what they want, no matter how difficult letting go of your old principles might be.
Most business leaders who refuse to let their employees in on things are simply afraid. They are afraid that their employees will take advantage of them, use the things they have learned against them, or even steal from them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Employees are just like people in management...they want to keep score and they want to win. If they do not know where the company is going or what their contribution to it has been, they have no stake in the business and no reason to care about it. Ultimately employees who are not made aware of what their company is all about will either quit or mentally shut down. Either way, production and quality will suffer.
In times when there are more employees than jobs, employers have the luxury of high turnover rates. In the future when the economy stabilizes and there are more jobs than people, that luxury will be the death of many companies. Start working with your people now. They can either make you or break you. It’s your choice!
If you need help putting employee leadership, engagement, communication, or selection plans into place please get in touch with me. I am easy to find and I want to help.
All the Best!