On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that the unemployment rate was 10.2 percent in October –- reaching the double-digit mark for the first time since 1983.
Several leading economists are now predicting an 11 percent unemployment rate by the middle of next year, which would represent the highest level since World War II. Even though there have been some glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel in recent months, the unemployment rate continues to be a drag on both the economy and our American psyche.
During these rough economic times, I urge corporate executives to not focus on the 10 percent unemployment rate, but to focus attention on the remaining 90 percent of those still employed. The speed of the recovery and job growth will hinge on one key factor – whether employees are motivated to innovate to drive new products, more compelling services, and improved processes.
Companies, now more than ever, must re-double efforts to mine the talent of their existing employees and turn that talent into newfound gains. With tight budgets, it will require creative approaches from management such as enhanced incentive rewards programs, imaginative leadership and manager training, and other innovative programs to spur greater employee performance.
The costs of such programs are modest compared to the cost to your company and its shareholders of standing still.
You can choose to see the glass 10 percent empty, or you can choose to see it 90 percent full. Think of it as saving room for cream – or better yet, two-percent milk.