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

Oregon Business expands events portfolio

The Latest
Friday, March 27, 2015
htctfacebookBY OB STAFF

New events series brings magazine to life.


Read more...

Downtime with the executive director of Greater Portland Inc.

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Janet LaBar, Executive director, Greater Portland Inc.


Read more...

Beneath the Surface

May 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
0515-goodhacker01 250pxwBY LINDA BAKER

On April 1 I attended a forum at the University of Portland on the sharing economy. The event featured panelists from Lyft and Airbnb, as well as Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. Asked about the impact of tech-driven sharing economy services. Hales said the new business models are reshaping the landscape. “But,” he added, “I don’t pretend to understand how a lot of this [technology] works.” 


Read more...

An uncertain future

Guest Blog
Thursday, May 21, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

Uncertainty is a part of doing business, whether in through the lens of investment opportunities and risks or the business of running an enterprise.


Read more...

5 questions for Flywheel CEO Rakesh Mathur

The Latest
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
FW splashBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Portland is awash in rideshare options. We ask the head of Flywheel what sets his app apart.


Read more...

Photo Diary: Forest Grove Farmers Market

The Latest
Thursday, May 14, 2015
IMG 8469BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

There are more than 160 farmers markets in Oregon, contributing an estimated $50 million in sales, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association. We checked in on the Forest Grove market, which for several years has brought local produce and food vendors to Main Street in the center of town.


Read more...

Nine lives

Linda Baker
Friday, May 22, 2015
0f4f7bfBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Roy Kaufmann always lands on his feet.


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