2 Smart Ways for Leaders to Engage Employees When Times Are Tough

Engage Employees When Times Are Tough

Do Your Leaders Know How to Engage Employees When Times Are Tough?
It can be challenging for leaders to engage employees when times are tough.  Just think about it.  Engaged employees are strong advocates for the company, its products and services and for the strategic plans going forward.

Is It Too Much to Ask of Employees?
That is a lot to ask of employees when times are tough.  Engaged employees also have a high intent to stick around and give more discretionary effort than their less engaged peers.  When times are tough, it is natural for some employees to begin to look over the fence at other opportunities and decrease their on-the-job effort.

When an organization or team is growing and on the upswing, it is easy to paint a bright future.  Employees typically reflect the positive vibes. They are part of a successful team and are focused on and satisfied with their jobs. But what about when the organization is facing hard times…is it possible to keep employees engaged?

So – How Can Leaders Engage Employees When Times Are Tough?

Employee engagement training experts say that, though more difficult to engage employees when times are tough, it is indeed possible to create higher levels of advocacy, discretionary effort and intent to stay.

#1.  First you must be open and honest as you describe the situation.
You cannot pretend that all is well; nor should you protect your employees from the truth. Invite their questions and answer them in a straightforward way. Tell them what you know, what you do not know and when you will share more.  Otherwise, inaccurate and harmful rumors will fill the knowledge gaps and make engagement efforts more difficult.

From an employee engagement perspective, this creates trust in leaders.  During tough times make sure employees trust leaders to set the right course and believe leaders are honest, trustworthy and demonstrate integrity.

#2.  Next, create a goal that employees can subscribe to. The organization may be on a downward spiral but that does not mean that the team has to accept defeat. Perhaps they can support a goal of reversing the trend, getting a few small wins, cutting costs, changing approaches or proving the naysayers wrong.  Make sure that the goal is just possible enough to motivate the troops to stretch to make it happen.

The Bottom Line
Employee engagement is more difficult and more important when things are not going according to plan.  Done right, employee engagement initiatives increase employee advocacy, discretionary effort and employee retention.  Done wrong, dis-engaged employees can make things worse.

To learn more about  to engage employees when times are tough (and when they are not tough), download the Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Employee Engagement

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