The national unemployment rate is rapidly approaching 10 percent as companies continue to trim the fat they don’t have. News of closing doors, …
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The national unemployment rate is rapidly approaching 10 percent
as companies continue to trim the fat they don’t have.
News of closing doors, massive layoffs and budget cuts fill the
Yet, the story of how downsizing and penny-pinching is affecting
morale and productivity of the remaining employees remains largely
Kendra Kleeman is a 34-year-old customer service representative
at a jewelry store in Cherry Creek. When she was hired, there were
four people working the service counter.
Two years and one economic crisis later, she’s the last employee
“My work load has doubled. I’m working 12-hour days and we
didn’t get raises this year,” said Kleeman, a Centennial
But she is training one new person which is a good sign, she
“Even if companies haven’t literally lost their employees, many
have lost them psychologically,” said Jon Gordon, a national
speaker and consultant on life and career strategies.
“And ultimately, an organization’s failure or success is
determined by the moods, innovation, energy, thoughts, and
behaviors of the people who work there.”
Like Kleeman, employees are feeling more stressed and overworked
as the economy slowly turns around.
Sales are starting to grow and many companies are starting to
make money again, but they’re doing it by cutting costs and
squeezing more work out of fewer employees.
“Employees are faced with doing more with less,” said Jenny
Schade, the president of JRS Consulting, a management and marketing
consulting firm in Chicago.
“The organization is often so focused on getting through tough
times that they don’t determine in advance how the remaining
employees are going to do all the work that everybody was doing to
A survey by CareerBuilder reported that 47 percent of workers
say they have taken on more responsibility as a result of the
economy. Thirty-seven percent say they are doing the work of two
Overworked employees cost businesses surprising amounts of money
to cover for the increase in errors on the job, as well as all of
the stress related illnesses that are popping up everywhere,
according to Gordon.
Overworked employees can account for some of the highest health
costs ever seen.
In Kleeman’s case, she recently developed eczema that gets worse
when she uses certain chemicals to clean jewelry — a job she didn’t
used to have to do.
“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this atmosphere is
not conducive to an organization’s success, now or in the future,”
Focus on the people, not the numbers, is his advice to
“Your company isn’t what shows up in the finance department’s
spreadsheets — it’s the finance people themselves, and the human
resources department, and the salespeople, and support staff.”
“The numbers are just measurements and indicators of how well
your people are executing.”
Gordon encourages employers to be examples of good behavior
since they set the tone for how employees respond to almost every
Greet a worker cheerfully even though you’ve both had to come
into work an hour early, he said.
“Whatever you expect from your employees, you must also expect
from your senior leadership,” Gordon said.
Most importantly, employers must communicate, he said.
“These are uncertain times. Employees are questioning how their
industries and jobs will be impacted by the current economy.
They’re unsure about what actions to take. Unfortunately this
uncertainly creates a void,” he said.
And voids breed negativity.
“You must be seen and heard, and you must also hear and
While much of Gordon’s advice is for employers, employees also
play a part.
In the words of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, “It’s time for
us to keep it together and get it together, together.”
“You can’t fall apart when things get difficult,” said Joan
Borysenko on a segment on KGNU radio station in Boulder. Borysenko
is the author of “It’s Not the End of the World: Developing
Resilience in Times of Change.”
“The world is in a crisis but we don’t have to be. Some people
stress out and melt down. Resilient people bounce back from
hardship and create their best lives.”
In order to bounce back, Borysenko suggests doing something good
for someone else.
“It’s the clearest way to alleviate the problem and become part
of the solution,” she said.
“If we cultivate gratitude, a sense of humor, and we then use
that to contribute in some way in our jobs, then we’re cultivating
positive energy and giving that back,” said KGNU radio talk show
host Duncan Campbell.
“Give attention and concern to others and other activities,” he
“And do what you can for the good of the whole,” Borysenko
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