You can’t even leave the house anymore without hearing about how bad the economy is getting. As a human resources professional I’ve seen first hand how it can directly affect the average person.
A 60% increase in unemployment coupled with a dramatic downturn in 401(k) account balances equals tough times. Companies are struggling with the challenge of keeping their businesses afloat despite layoffs and restructuring. And employees are faced with the challenge of getting more done with less people.
I know this blog may sound like the lyrics to a bad country song but let me get at my point. My father is in his late 80’s and as such I have access to many people in his age range who have been through tough times before. As they would tell me, “remember a little thing called the depression?”. Since I’m only in my thirties, I obviously don’t. But as they describe, “it is human nature to survive; when the going gets tough, get tough back!”
As the weeks and months have gone by I’ve certainly seen evidence of that.
In an age where employees feel a sense of entitlement and companies continue to push the boundaries of productivity, its amazing to see how the two have come together.
Companies are becoming creative with ways to help their employees get through tough times. Some companies have their 401(k) representative speak to their employees about how to restructure their investments to protect their nest egg or withdraw money in the event of extreme hardship to avoid foreclosure. Others offer cash payouts of PTO time to employees who are facing extraordinary financial difficulty. And yet others have offered to pay for the employee portion of benefits for a short time to help them get over a rough edge.
And employees have appreciated it. I have received dozens of phone calls from employees wishing to donate PTO to other employees and at one company, employees are donating their overtime to other employees to help save their homes from foreclosure.
Very recently and most unfortunately, our firm was forced to effect two layoffs. Needless to say, many employees were upset over this. As the date of our scheduled holiday party approached, a certain employee, (who spoke for many at our firm), made the suggestion that we cancel this year’s holiday party and donate the money to charity.
We opted for a modest happy hour that was graciously paid for by the partners in our firm. We took that opportunity to recognize all the hard working employees at our firm including the two who were no longer with us.
So with all this, the general theme seems to be; bring it on! We’ve been through tough times before and as a team we’ll get through this.
If you have the opportunity, talk to your employer about your suggestions to help the company get through a rough spot. If you’re an employer, talk to your employees and let them know where the company stands. Even if it’s bad news. And if there is a way to help your team, do it. It’s the right thing to do. With a little creativity and a lot of dedication, this season may not be as tough as it seems.
After all, when the going gets tough, get tough back!