How the Economy Affects Employer/Employee Relationships

going out-of-business on employee screening blogThe number of Americans who are unemployed seems to be stabilizing somewhat, but even those employees who have made it through your company’s toughest times may still be wary, worried, and waiting for their job to be taken away.  With stress at home, unemployed partners, and shrinking household incomes, combined with increased workloads and more on-the-job stress, your staff could be more nervous than ever. Fear leads to unusual or out-of-character behavior. Employers should be aware of changes in their employees—and be willing to try new ways of dealing with old issues.

The continued downturn in the economy can seem like uncharted territory—so just as you drive more cautiously when you don’t know where you’re going, employers should proceed with caution when dealing with employee issues like layoffs and evaluations.

For example, your employees might be more sensitive to criticism. When stresses combine with a feeling that their job could be in jeopardy, even the most even-tempered employee could react uncharacteristically. Employers should take extra time to explain any issues related to performance, suggest ways to improve, and if the problem is not job-threatening, be sure to say so! Never assume your employee knows anything that you don’t directly communicate to them.

During times of stress, employees could become more aggressive about negative evaluations. This isn’t to say that evaluations should be soft-pedaled or toned down to avoid upsetting your team members. Just be sure that negative scores or observations can be backed up with solid evidence, such as incident reports, notes, or other appropriate documentation. Still, employers should prepare for formal challenges from staff members who fear that a poor performance evaluation could lead to losing their job.

Employers should also be cautious about layoffs. A downturn in business can be the sole reason for letting employees go—but that does not preclude an older laid off employee from filing a discrimination case, or an employee whose religious practices differ from yours from hiring an employment lawyer.

So be fair, be sensitive to employee stress, and always keep the lines of communication open with all of your employees. If they are aware of your company’s challenges, feel that they are being treated fairly, and know exactly where they stand, your staff will be more accepting of criticism, poor evaluations, and even lay offs.

Be sure to check out our Pre-Employment Screening services. Protect your business, increase your peace of mind and lower turnover by hiring smart!

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