When the economy is crisis and people are losing not only jobs but sometimes homes as well, workplaces reverberate with that tension. In a March poll conducted by EAP provider ComPsych Corp., more than half of U.S. workers said their work atmosphere felt worried due to the economy. Of respondents, 16 percent described their workplaces as “panicky.”
ComPsych chairman and CEO Dr. Richard Chaifetz says his organization has had “a record number of calls for on-site counselors due to layoffs, as well as requests for ongoing stress management counseling.”
Other respondents to the survey described their work atmospheres as “somewhat worried” (39 percent); “business as usual” (23 percent); “cautiously optimistic” (14 percent); and “very hopeful” (8 percent).
In the face of such tensions, workplace consultants Bill Catlette and Richard Hudson recommend a “high-touch” response.
“Going through a difficult economic period isn’t just about business. It’s personal, too,” they wrote in a recent Workforce Management article, “Eight Ways to Keep Your People Focused and Fired Up in an Uncertain Economy.”
“This is an excellent time to show that you care by spending a bit more quality time with the people on your team, listening to them and making sure they have what they need—especially those on the front line. Don’t pry, but sharpen your awareness of special circumstances. Has a spouse been downsized? A mortgage foreclosed on? Watch for signs of added stress. Don’t play psychologist, but make sure your employee assistance program is ready to respond and help where needed.”
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