According to a 2011 American Psychological Association survey, it was found that:

  • 36% percent of employed individuals reported regular work-related stress.
  • 51% of those employees said that they were less productive at work as a result of this stress.

While there has been evidence that an economic upturn is in sight, many business owners have found themselves questioning the effects of stressful working conditions, and how to keep employee morale up. Norman B. Anderson, PhD. and CEO of the American Psychological Association, states that “creating a psychologically healthy workplace is good for employees and business results.” It’s said that since the economic collapse, those businesses that have attempted to create a healthy workplace have reported an average turnover rate of only 11%, as opposed to the national average of 38%.

In addition to benefiting employers, workers with positive attitudes, and those who take it upon themselves to go beyond their area of expertise can help themselves too. It has been reported that these behaviors can even help employees keep their job when facing layoffs. Of course, there is little that a worker can do if layoffs occur by seniority, but if a company cuts back or closes an office, they will most likely spare those who have proven themselves essential to the company.

UNLV Business professor Joe Gilbert reports that rather than appearing insincere, the best question employees could ask themselves is, “What does my manager need?” or “What could make their lives better?” By asking these questions and behaving in a way that benefits their managers, they are showing that they value their jobs, making their own value rise in a company.

So, how can employers help maintain good moral and productivity? Annie Stevens, managing partner at executive coaching firm ClearRok, says the answer is a concept called “Management by Walking Around”, which is credited to Bill Hewlett and David Packard, founder of Hewlett-Packard. She says that it has been increasingly difficult for employers to maintain good morale, due to the recession and the past few years of stalled recovery. She says that it is important that employees and bosses get face-to-face time to increase interaction, which has become difficult with the ubiquitous use of E-mail, cell phones, and social media.

Marie McIntyre, career coach, states, “… if they [employees] never see the boss or CEO, they just wind up feeling like a widget performing a task — not important. For those people, a visit by the boss can make them feel valued and important — something that will motivate them.” Though business owners may get a list of complaints when using this practice, McIntyre says that’s the reason it is important. Eventually, managers will hear of these complaints anyway, and by then it may have cost them a potentially great employee. “At the end of the day, a lot of people just want to know that you’re listening”, she says.

Perman, Cindy. “In tough times, bosses need to get out and talk to employees.” 8/4/2012 (8/13/2012)

Sylvester, Ron. “How employees can shine in the workplace, in good times and bad.” 7/30/12 (8/13/12)

“How Psychology is Changing the Workplace for the Better.” 8/7/12 (8/13/12)

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