Keeping employee spirits up in a downturn

| Print |  Email
Monday, December 01, 2008

It’s not often the relocation of a business to a smaller office space is credited for improving employee morale.

But when Rose City Mortgage Specialists in Portland did just that in October, it helped reduce the overhead costs of a company in the hard-hit real estate industry. “[Employees] feel like at least we are not going out of business,” says Renee Spears, president and CEO of the company.

Understandably, many workers are worried about the health of the economy, their 401k plans and job security. Maintaining a positive spirit in the workplace during a recession can be challenging.

Business and human resource leaders agree that transparency is one way to maintain employee morale in tough times. As daring as it might sound to share financial information on the well-being of your company, the more an employee knows the more empowered they feel.

“Employees need to know if we are making money or not making money,” says Ken Madden, a vice president at Madden Industrial Craftsmen, a private industrial and construction staffing firm in Beaverton.

The notion of a private company opening up its books to employees is relatively new, but one that is increasingly necessary and justifiable, says Madden.

There are always the standby employee-recognition programs and gift-card giveaways, though ongoing communication by top executives and seeking employee input on ways to deal with some budget issues are the most effective, says Tom Kelly, a senior vice president at the HR and management consulting firm Ameriben Solutions/IEC Group in Portland. The company’s chief financial officer recently sent an email to 220 employees explaining the firm’s financial status.

To reduce stress at the workplace, once a week Spears holds a yoga session with an instructor at the office for employees. To cut transportation costs and the stress of commuting, each employee is allowed to work from home one day a week.

Heading a small company, Spears knows when morale is waning with one of her 15 employees. When one of her loan officers was having a difficult day and feeling low, Spears gave the agent the day off and offered personal words of encouragement.

Madden also knows he can’t survive the downturn with bummed-out employees. So he gives out Portland Blazer tickets to employees, one of the hottest seats in town.                                       


JASON SHUFFLER

Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


 

More Articles

Will Medford Ever Be Cool?

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.


Read more...

The city as startup

Guest Blog
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
011415 citystartup-thumbBY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Startups in the growth phase are associated with a fresh infusion of capital — human and financial — a curiosity factor and products to disrupt the market and drive demand. Portland’s economy gives off the same aroma.


Read more...

Which Way to Chinatown?

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

The Jade International District, already Portland's center of Asian life, is poised for rejuvenation. Where does that leave the westside's historic Chinatown?


Read more...

Old school: Paulsen's Pharmacy maintains old fashion ethos

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121914-pharmacy-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Under the radar — complete with a soda counter, the traditional Paulsen's Pharmacy looks to compete with big box retailers.


Read more...

Corner Office: Pam Edstrom

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits of information from an agency partner and co-founder of Waggener Edstrom in Lake Oswego.


Read more...

Top stories in 2014

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
10-listthumb

2014 was a year of wild contradictions, fast-paced growth and unexpected revelations.


Read more...

That's Not a Watch (This Is a Watch)

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smartwatches are all the rage. But old-fashioned timepieces keep on ticking.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS