How to Mobilize a Weary Workforce

We are challenged to keep employees engaged, innovative, and productive. Yet, they often come across as weary, tenacious survivors. Many of them are tired, stressed, and worried about the future.

Employees know enough not to talk about the challenges of keeping up amidst the tumult of organization life, the rapid change, the threats of layoffs, and the continuous “raising the bar.” But in quiet, off-line conversations, they talk about being tired, unengaged, and simply surviving.

The costs of non-engagement are high. We live in a world of increasing competition, pressure to lower costs, and demand for ongoing innovation and productivity gains. How can we help employees rediscover their spark, tap into their creativity, and stay connected to the organization? Check out these tips to for helping mobilize a weary workforce.

Broadcast Successes

When people work hard and accomplish something important, make sure people know about it. This sounds obvious, but often organizations have already moved on to the next big thing before stopping to celebrate. That’s the kind of behavior that wearies employees. Give them at least a chance to catch their breath and bask in the temporary glory of a job well done, before pushing them on to the next task.

Take Breaks

Give people a chance to take a break from their demanding schedules and do something different. This doesn’t mean doing nothing (which is often even more stressful than being too busy!). Instead, invite them to help with a special task force, attend a workshop or conference, embark on a special project, or fix a persistently annoying departmental process. This variety helps people refresh their minds, recharge their batteries, and return renewed to their regular work.

Encourage Learning

One of the best ways to keep employees engaged is to give them opportunities to learn about topics that interest them. Has someone always wanted to learn the Python programming language? Perhaps one employee hopes to transfer to the Finance Department one day and so wants to learn zero-based budgeting. Giving employees the chance to work towards their goals helps them stay motivated—and helps the company continue to grow.

Focus on Critical Strategies

Rather than listing dozens of strategies that no one can remember, identify the three to five accomplishments critical to the organization’s success. Then communicate those over and over again until everyone knows them. Of course, you can tie your additional goals to these three to five accomplishments. But they’ll be in the context of what’s most critical, rather than overwhelming in one long list.

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