Challenges to the HR professional’s role in these tough economic times are rife. Many are dealing with difficult corporate decisions that may result in layoffs or plant closings. This entails managing those layoffs and dealing with the morale of the remaining work force. Many other companies are avoiding layoffs by reducing pay, reducing hours, or enacting other strategies that require creative solutions and communications from the HR team. And even in those companies that are fortunate enough to be weathering the storm relatively unscathed, the spillover effect on productivity can be substantial when employees suffer economic stress due to another family member’s job loss or a home foreclosure.

It’s hard for employees to be productive when their physical, emotional, or financial well-being is in jeopardy. Even for those who are not directly affected by economic turmoil, the anxiety factor of the unknown can be fairly intense.

We’ve found two good articles that offer advice on many of these issues. Some are designed for HR managers and some are tools and advice that might be shared with employees. As we find more resources on these issues, we’ll continue to share them on the blog.

Helping employees cope with change – Lauren Keller Johnson of Harvard Management Update notes that managers face a daunting task in helping their organizations weather a downturn. “They need to ensure that employees fully buy into change initiatives and make the necessary alterations in their day-to-day behavior – at precisely the same time their employees are likely to be most anxious about, and resistant to, change.” She discusses five phases of change.

Crisis Communication: Now More Than Ever, a Timely Topic – Knowledge@W.P. Carey notes that while the times appear perilous for corporate entities, crisis is inevitable and can occur at any point. The post reviews 5 rules of crisis communication.

One additional word of advice: Step up your EAP communications in light of high financial stress. If you are not tapping into the resources available from your EAP, you are missing an important source of help for both you and your employees.



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