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Boosting Morale Amid Budget Cuts (6 Resilience Strategies) - Incognito for Slack

Boosting Morale Amid Budget Cuts (6 Resilience Strategies) - Incognito for Slack
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It’s budget-cutting season. Again.

The costs of the pandemic are wavering above us. Inflation and interest rates are both wrestling to be #1. Economic instability is settling in. Employees and companies are both biting their nails, worried about the near future.

In times of uncertainty, leadership teams need to make difficult decisions to cut budgets and reduce overhead. However, it’s important to ensure you don’t steamroll over employee morale in the process

Fueled by fear, pressure, and uncertainty leadership teams need to make difficult decisions to cut budgets and reduce overhead. However, it’s important to ensure you don’t steamroll over employee morale in the process

Research showed that most workers ‘felt their employer treated them unfairly, didn’t care about them or had broken promises.’
In a time when you need your team to pull together and go the extra mile, this is exactly how you don’t want them to feel.

The trauma of cutting budgets looms over your employees for more than 2 years. Causing a drop in productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention.
Jeff Joireman
's research paper showed the best way to rebuild the employer-employee relationship is by showing “signals that people remain the firm’s most prized asset

In this article, we’ll share something you should never do and 6 ways you can revive your team's morale.

Never do this.

During the good times, it's easy to boast about career development, employee incentives, and open-door feedback policies. Unfortunately, at the first sight of turbulence, the doors slam shut,  leaving employees on the outside and leadership on the inside.

When budgets are tight, the first budgets cuts are to employee engagement and feedback platforms. They’re seen as “fluffy” non-essential items. This sends a strong message to your team, telling them their opinions is not valued by the company.

Just like a car without wheels, a company without motivated employees won’t be able to progress forward - especially not with the economic bumps on the horizon.

The more concerned, unappreciated, and insecure your team feels the less gas they will have left in the tank. You can expect them to produce subpar work and take longer to do it.

This is likely to send your team into a spiral of disengagement. At this point, would it be surprising if your remaining team was scrolling through job descriptions during their personal (or work) hours? Probably not.

You need a team willing to take things into another gear when faced with challenges. The only way you will achieve this is by showing them they’re your most prized asset.

Follow these 6 steps if you want to achieve this.

6 strategies to improve employee morale, despite budget cuts:

1. Build an employee listening strategy:

This is a well-kept secret. Research shows that after layoffs, there is an easy way to restore employee morale. You need to show your team that you’re invested in them. This doesn’t mean big-scale pay rises or bonuses. It can be a small gesture showing that you’re willing to listen and support your teams. We’ve listed a few examples below

a) Open-door feedback policy (preferably a virtual suggestion box if you’re remote)

b) Regular Pulse Surveys

c) Employee Recognition initiatives

2. Create a virtual suggestion box:

It’s important to build a psychologically safe feedback environment for your team, where you let them share meaningful and anonymous feedback/questions and suggestions without any fear of judgment.

However, if leadership teams decide to ignore questions or suggestions this strategy could easily make employees feel like their speaking into a black hole, where no one responds, cares, or values their opinions. In this case, they will feel disincentivized from sharing feedback again.

Therefore, it’s extremely important that you’re replying to feedback, taking suggestions on board to show the team you care!

3. Encourage and answer tough questions - LIVE! 🎙️

There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of asking your leadership team tough questions - without feeling like you need to hold back.

Company-wide meetings are a great opportunity for your team to hear the voice of executives (first hand) rather than being passed messages down a string of 10 people.

There are always questions swimming across our team's mind. If you want to help your company swim (and not sink), it’s important to encourage team members to speak up.

Use Slack Apps like Incognito, to help your team ask anonymous questions before the company meeting takes place.

These questions can go into a public channel where the entire team can upvote this question if it resonates with them.

Leadership can view the most popular questions on Slack and come prepared for every meeting.

P.S - If you’re worried about some questions being inappropriate, you can always use tools that moderate the questions before they go into a public channel (shown in the image below)

4.  Strengthen relationships with Peer Recognition:

Have you ever received a shoutout from a peer or colleague of yours? How did you feel?

That great feeling you felt, was the release of a hormone called oxytocin, running through your bloodstream, firing up your nerves and slowly moving your facial muscles, and causing that million-dollar smile to appear.

That smile is the secret weapon every company wants to possess.

It spreads like wildfire across the office where one happy colleague can contagiously radiate productivity, engagement, and excitement to another colleague.

If you have Slack, it won’t be a bad idea to give this employee recognition platform a try!

5. Communicate clearly, positively, and frequently to prevent “survivors guilt”:

When layoffs strike, it’s important to effectively communicate why cuts or employees were let go. Failing to do this can build survivor's guilt across your team and build insecurity and a mindset of “am I next?”. As their attention shifts to this, you can expect productivity to take a plunge.

Avoid this by effectively communicating why you made this decision to your team. Don’t try to soften the blow or cover things up.  You’ll be able to rebuild trust if you’re direct, honest, and compassionate. After all, you are a team, and you are in this together.

6. Win the hearts and minds with your company vision…

As human beings, we lead with emotions first.Any decision to purchase a product is 80% emotions and only 20% logic.

Employee engagement works in the same way. It relies on the organization's ability to win over the hearts of their employees first, followed by their minds. In short, people want to feel connected to the bigger picture so they feel the work has meaning and value!

If you’re curious about how to communicate your company vision - this is a pretty good guide

What should you do now?

Now that you have a financially lean organization, it’s a good time to start reinvesting in your team if you want to avoid the steep costs of disengaged employees and turnover.

The suggestions above don’t always need to break the bank or consume too many resources. To set up your feedback culture in Slack you can simply download a free Slack app here.