I recently came across a great article by Darren Dahl over at the American Express Open Forum on how small businesses can cut costs without bringing down the company morale. Though the post is a few months old, the economy continues to give many small business owners a run for their money. So, this seems like a topic that ought to be discussed.
Here are the highlights:
- Communicate. It seems that the number one most important thing to consider when cutting costs is communication with your employees. Let them know how you got into the current financial situation and make sure they know you’ve got ideas to get out. You’re more likely to win support for you plan, any plan, if you’re open and honest about how you intend to get there. When it comes to executing, be sure to roll up your sleeves and heavily involve yourself in the process. Your employees will have loads more respect for you if they know you’re not just counting on them to pull you back up.
- Tap your best resource. If there’s trouble and you’re struggling, it’s likely that your key employees are already aware of it. There’s no sense in hiding it from them. In fact, your employees spend their days in the trenches of your business, probably way more than you, and could be a valuable resource to shed some light on areas where you might be able to pick up some savings.
- Add an extra hour. When times get tough, the first instinct of most employers is to quickly axe the workforce. Dahl suggests doing the exact opposite – ask your employees to pick up an extra hour a day. Most (good) employees will see the dire situation and pick up the slack no problem, especially if it means keeping their jobs in the long run. As an incentive, offer a bonus program to be paid out once the company is in better standing. Most importantly, don’t forget to acknowledge the sacrifices your employees are making. Listen to their concerns and really make an effort to continually thank them for their efforts.
When times get tough in small business, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the needs of our team. But, it’s clear there are ways to survive that will not only keep us in the black, but also keep our employees showing up each day.
How do you keep morale up during particularly hard times?