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He Ain't Heavy, He's My Colleague

April 21, 2010  

If the impact of the recession has left your employees battered and bruised, why not make a special point of letting them know how much you value their contributions?

"The effort can help boost morale," writes Sarah Needleman at the Wall Street Journal, "and may even be prudent if you've had to cut salaries or work hours, or if your firm is operating leaner than normal."

Thoughtful gestures can significantly enhance an employee's outlook, she argues, and often cost little money. So why not:

  • Invite employees to suggest improvements. "If they feel they legitimately have a say and that their opinion and ideas matter, they're going to feel better about their job and the company," Scott R. Gingold, a small-business adviser, told Needleman.
  • Offer career cross-training. One New York restaurant uses slow periods to train employees in other roles. A busser, for instance, learned how to manage the office, serve, tend bar and host. The extra training increases scheduling flexibility, improves internal opportunities and broadens resumes, Needleman reports.
  • Assist in family matters. "To ease staff concerns," notes Needleman, "Prime Debt Services last spring converted a room at its Dallas office building into a makeshift daycare, complete with crayons, a video monitor and sleeping cots."

The Po!nt: Try a little TLC. It doesn't take much to show appreciation for weary workers—and help sustain a more productive, positive team.

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