Incenting the Workforce During Economic Downturns

Incenting the workforce is difficult enough when times are good.  But in economic downturns, it becomes absolutely critical.  As your business struggles to make profits in the midst of reduced customer demand, supply chain challenges and market crises, how do you improve the chances of greater employee performance and retention? 

First, you must decide and communicate what higher performance looks like.  What skills and characteristics will create greater value to the organization and to the market at large?  It may be an improvement in current skills, or it may be an increase in the number of skills.  In either case it’s an improvement in how valuable an employee is to the organization. 

It may be not only skills, but also certain knowledge and characteristics.  Are there knowledge components related to your industry or specific functions that can give individuals and your organization a competitive advantage?  What about characteristics?  Especially during difficult times, adaptability, flexibility, and accountability become “must haves” not just “nice to haves.”  What have you communicated to employees and how will those valuable items be recognized?  Incentivized? 

Second, do you know what will improve the chances of employees developing and exhibiting the identified knowledge, skills, and characteristics?  Is it more money?  Improved benefits?  Flexibility in work hours and/or location?  At the very least, how does all of this compare to what is available in the market?  Does your organization offer at market, below or above market work and compensation packages?  

It’s also about culture.  What does your company have to offer all employees?  But most importantly, your highest performers.  What will improve the chances of them continuing their exemplary work and remaining with your company?  Your most valuable employees want growth opportunities, decision-making authority, recognition for their contributions, and other high performing team members with whom to work.   

The great majority of employees want to do good work.  They just need a culture that defines what good work looks like, provides feedback relative to it and delivers consequences.  Employees want to know that they are cared for and that their organizations are interested in their individual success.  How well are your leaders accomplishing that responsibility?  Do they know the significance of their role in the retention of your most valuable resource? 

During economic downturns, people are looking for what they can count on.  A rock on which they can stand.  It begins with communicating what the high value knowledge, skills and characteristics are.  Then confirming market competitiveness of current compensation and benefits packages.  Finally, ending with culture.  What makes yours attractive, especially to high performing individuals, especially during challenging economic times. 

Get Psyched about recruiting and retaining your most valuable employees! 

-George Karavattuveetil, President, Psyched!


Organizations Culture of Care

Organizational culture can be defined as the sum total of expectations, rituals and values that integrate employee relationships, behaviors and decisions.  But what constitutes a real culture of care?  For our purpose, a culture of care is defined as one where employees feel that they are truly cared for by their organization. That their respective organizations understand the challenges they face and have implemented policies, practices and supportive resources to effectively respond to employee needs. 

Employees facing family caregiving challenges are especially vulnerable in cultures where care may not be a visible and overtly addressed priority.  The results of caregiving challenges may also be evident to managers of employee family caregivers.  They must deal with unplanned absences, unintentional work disruptions and team frustrations.  Unfortunately, organizations and executive leadership teams are many times less aware of family caregiving impact and therefore ill prepared to most effectively support this growing population. 

By the numbers: 70% of full-time workers are impacted by caregiving.  80% of working caregivers say it impacts their productivity.  25% of caregivers are millennials.  52% of caregivers provide care to more than one person.  On average, caregivers spend 32 hours per week performing care responsibilities.  How is caregiving impacting your employees and your organization? 

So, how do you begin creating a culture of care?  First, create awareness of the growing societal challenge.  Educate leadership and the larger employee population of the facts.  Second, collect data.  Confirm the internal need and gain acceptance of the importance.  Finally, take action.  Get organizational leaders actively involved in the communication of their own caregiving journey.  This is critical to show that it’s okay for employees to share their own experience and that they’re not alone.  Family caregivers, and even more so those that are employees, find it difficult to identify themselves as the caregivers they are.   Having organizational leaders share their own family caregiving stories will go a long way to improve the chances of caregiver self-identification.  Leadership sharing should include executives as well as first line managers as it’s the first line managers most likely to see the effects of family caregiving within their departmental teams.  

Creating a culture of care should also include conversations to understand what benefits and specific policies and practices would be most valuable to employee family caregivers.  What’s of greatest importance to employees and how does it impact their ability to address their caregiving challenges.  Is it more flexible work scheduling?  Or, a better understanding of family medical leave and how it can be appropriately applied in their specific situation?  Caring cultures will have ongoing conversations with employees to stay up to date with their continuously changing needs. 

Clearly, the creation and maintenance of a caring culture requires energy and financial resources.  However, the return on investment is tremendous!  Whether we’re talking employee engagement, physical, intellectual and emotional well-being, or team member productivity, cultures of care are very much worth the time and money.  Get Psyched about caring cultures!  

-George Karavatuveetil, President, Psyched!


You Can’t Handle The Truth

Famous Jack Nicholson line from the 1992 movie, “A Few Good Men.”

The question for us is, “can we handle the truth? and from whom will we accept the truth?”  In these days of political correctness, and not wanting to rock the boat, how many people in your life are willing to give you the truth?  How many bosses, colleagues, direct reports are you willing to give the truth to?

Performance improvement requires feedback.  Continuous learning is built on measurements/judgements/conclusions and communication of such, providing the opportunity for improvement.  The fact is you can’t improve if you don’t know!

You can improve the chances of knowing what other people think by doing the following:

  • Communicate your intentions – you want their feedback, opinions and perceptions
  • Listen with the intent to understand when feedback is given
  • Ask clarifying questions – differentiating the content and the packaging
  • Do not defend or try to excuse the communication or behavior being discussed
  • Show appreciation for the feedback provided

You can improve the chances of others wanting to know what you think by doing the following:

  • Communicate your intentions – you are interested in their improvement and success
  • Confirm the confidentiality of the conversation and the associated trust
  • Communicate specifics including statements and behaviors
  • Do not try and assume their intentions – ask for intention if appropriate
  • Show appreciation for the feedback request

Everyone with whom you come into contact has a perception of you and an opinion of how you are performing in your professional or personal roles.  In your multiple life roles, stakeholders (people who expect something from you) have heard you say things, seen you do things and have at least some questions, if not preliminary conclusions based on those observations.  Their perceptions directly influence the status of your relationships with them today and into the future.

Can you handle the truth?  How easy have you made it for others to tell you the truth?  At least their truth?  How easy have you made it for others to accept your truth?

Be a person who can not only handle the truth but be trusted with the truth.  Get Psyched about the Truth!

-George Karavatuveetil, President, Psyched!