Keeping employee spirits up in a downturn

| Print |  Email
Archives - December 2008
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

Taking the lead in boosting Oregonians’ health and strengthening our economy

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 08, 2015
0108-injection-thumbBY CAMBIA HEALTH SOLUTIONS & OREGON BUSINESS COUNCIL | OP-ED

Businesses have a significant stake in the health of Oregonians. In fact, we cannot succeed without it. By committing to using our companies as levers for good health, we invest in our people, our business, our quality of life and our economy. 


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Tortoise and the Hare

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015

The day after this issue goes to press, the city of Medford will host its annual business conference. The event features Minoli Ratnatunga, co-author of the Milken Institute’s annual “Best-Performing Cities” report. Preliminary data suggests that Medford is likely to retain its No. 1 ranking among best-performing small cities for having a higher concentration of high-tech firms than the national average. 


Read more...

10 quotes explaining crisis at Port of Portland

The Latest
Friday, February 20, 2015
022015 port portland OBM-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The ongoing labor disputes at the Port of Portland came to a head two weeks ago when Hanjin, the container port's largest client, notified its customers it would be ending its direct route to Oregon.


Read more...

Carbon Power

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Researchers in a multitude of disciplines are searching for ways to soak up excess carbon dioxide, the compound that contributes to global warming.


Read more...

VIDEO: The 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015

videothumbVIDEO: 2015 100 Best Companies to work for in Oregon


Read more...

The Human Factor

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY BRIAN LIBBY

Matt French opens up South Waterfront.


Read more...

Photos from the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon awards celebration

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 9975cneditPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the 2015 celebration of Oregon's great workplaces.


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