Communicating With Workforce Critical During Challenging Times To Maintain Morale

By Doron Levy, President, Captus Business Consulting

A question I am constantly asked is how do we keep morale up during tough times? I agree it is difficult to keep spirits up especially with all the negative media swirling about. The one strategy that seems to always blow up in people faces is keeping or withholding information from employees.

In my experiences, I have seen a broad spectrum of cultures in retail. I have worked for companies that openly share sensitive operational information with their employees. I have seen cultures where owners and managers remain tight lipped about performance and other indicators. Silence is not golden in these cases. Employees who are constantly exposed to negative media are going to make assumptions about their environment without information. As the rumor mills spin, morale will decay to a level where productivity is affected. Is there a balance as to what can be shared?

The real key to maintaining morale is to keep the lines of communication going. The flow of information must remain constant. Having quick opening and closing meetings will ensure a constant flow of information. Sharing information like daily financial performance and sales targets will give employees a good idea as to where the business stands. You will also have greater chance of your staff taking ownership when sharing vital information.

How do you respond to rumors? Some would say that you should never engage rumors. I say, the truth will set you free as long as there is a policy in place. If you look at the employee handbooks of some of the largest retail chains, you will see sections on ‘disclosure of information’ or ‘internal speculation’ or even ‘rumors”. All of them address the issue of rumors in the workplace. Each chain has it’s own correction method but it is important to note that some will terminate upon investigation. That sends a clear message this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.

Let’s counter a negative with a positive. Sharing information is critical to the success of any retail team. It is important that your staff have a clear picture of what is going on around them. Speculation and rumors can hit a business’s productivity hard and our industry’s margins do not allow error. Morale is a key element to a successful retail operation.

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Doron Levy delivers his retail expertise through Captus Business Consulting. During his 20 years in the industry, he has been successful in increasing revenue and margin, optimizing and streamlining retail operations, reducing shrink, increasing employee morale and, most importantly, driving the bottom line. Doron has created solutions and training workshops for some of the biggest names in retail. He is a published author and has contributed to many retail trade magazines and websites. For more information on Captus services for business, please contact Doron directly at doron@gocaptus.com.

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