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Welcome to the New Lantern blog. Our goal is to shine light on leading innovators and creative artists, and how your business can learn and profit from them. Companies large, medium, and small can benefit from employees who think more creatively. New Lantern may be just the source of inspiration your company needs to spark more innovative products, services, and processes.

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Boosting Corporate Morale During Troubled Times

Posted by on June 20, 2009 at 7:39 pm

A friend of mine who is a senior executive for a Fortune 100 company was recently telling me about her company’s serious morale problems among its employees. This company had already gone through one round of layoffs, and had just announced that another round was coming soon. According to her, these actions and the threat of additional downsizing had literally sapped the life out of employee morale throughout the company.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not limited to one company and is playing itself out across corporate America. With a national unemployment rate nearing 10 percent, and unemployment well into the double digits in many parts of the country, no wonder so many employees are feeling anxious about their futures.

And this anxiety comes at a cost. Employee performance and productivity suffers. A risk-averse mentality sets in. Meanwhile, creativity and innovation all but dry up.

So what can a company do to fend off low morale and anxious employees during these troubled times?

First, you can openly acknowledge the stress that employees are under, and appreciate that the stress they are feeling at work is even greater at home. Resist attempts for a quick fix such as a social “morale event,” which may be effective during ordinary times – but these times are far from ordinary. Such efforts could be seen as ill-timed and a wasteful use of funds in light of laid-off colleagues.

Next, focus on the individual. Meet with each employee; admit the stressful nature of the environment, but encourage them to step up and use this opportunity to persevere and shine. Seek their opinions and engage them on how to make the company stronger. Single out the highest performers and look for ways to cost-effectively reward them with leadership training, a title promotion, expanded responsibilities, and/or a stock grant.

Even in tough economic times, companies can and should find ways to reward and challenge their most promising employees. These are the ones who can help set the example for others to follow during a stressful period.

Finally, it will be up to the company’s leadership team to set the positive tone for the organization. Executives and managers who are confident in the company’s future and the potential of its employees, are in the best position to lead the organization to success.

When you’re 10 points down, and there’s only two minutes left on the clock, it comes down to a motivated coach, a dedicated and talented team, a winning game plan, and a bit of creative spirit to achieve the desire goal.