Campus: CSU Northridge -- October 16, 2001

CSUN Professors Offer Tips on How to Keep Employee Morale Up During These Uncertain Times

With the stock market fluctuating and companies across the country announcing layoffs, employees and employers may be finding it hard to keep morale up during these uncertain times.

Cal State Northridge professors have suggestions on how to keep people focused on doing their jobs.
Adele Scheele, director of CSUN's Career Center and the author of several popular career strategy books, including Skills for Success, said it's important to remember that everyone is human, and that they have some valid concerns.

"Employers and managers need to have employee morale as a goal in mind," Scheele said. "They need to gather the employees and ask them how they are doing and talk to them about information that they all can share."

Scheele said employers and managers also need to stress that this is a time to pull together and work as a team.

"But they also need to allow time for people to vent," Scheele said. "A lot of people are under stress and they deal with it in different ways.

"It's not easy, but you have to keep your antenna out for people who are in particular stress. You might gather your team over lunch or over a staff meeting where you share knowledge and feelings. Do what works for your company and your people," she said. "What you are doing is tightening the bonds that people feel at the same time you are looking for ways to help each other deal with the situation."

If layoffs are imminent, CSUN management professor Naomi Berger Davidson suggested that employers offer severance packages that include some form of assistance in finding a new job or retraining opportunities.

"That way the employees understand that the employer has a heart," Davidson said.

Sometimes, it's the little gestures of assistance that can really make a difference, she said.

"Allowing a laid-off employee to continue using their voice mail while they're looking for a job makes the employer seem more human and caring while at the same time makes it easier for the employee," Davidson said. "It's easier for someone who looks like they already have a job to find a new job, than for someone who is laid off."

She said that little gesture can send a huge message to those people who are still employed by the company.

"The minute those employees see how well the company is treating those who have been laid off, they realize the company cares about them as human beings and in return, they pay the company back in loyalty," she said.

Scheele said it's important for people to remember that economic downturns and layoffs are cyclical, and eventually there will be a recovery.

"Given what's going on in the world at the moment, much of this economic cycle may be driven by our fears," Scheele said. "But we are a strong country that needs to eat, have shelter, art and instruction, entertainment, banking and health care. Things will recover."

California State University, Northridge has more than 30,000 full- and part-time students and offers 63 bachelor's and 51 master's degrees. Founded in 1958, it is the only four-year university in the San Fernando Valley and the third largest in the 23-campus CSU system. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges recently said CSUN "stands as a model to other public urban institutions of higher education."

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