Staff forgotten in firms’ survival bid

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BUSINESSES are forgetting about their staff as they try to weather the recession storm, a study has found.

Human resources experts Gary Rees and Sally Rumbles say business failure is directly related to senior managers not understanding or caring that change can knock a workforce off its feet.

Mr Rees and Ms Rumbles, of the University of Portsmouth Business School, argue in their study that while many organisations have serious concerns about the impact change is having on their business, very few were worried about employees or their welfare.

Mr Rees said: ‘We are alarmed at some of the results.

‘Employees are an organisation’s most valuable asset and collectively have the power to help businesses survive and thrive in bad times as well as in good.

‘Employers and senior managers need to stop foisting continual change upon their staff in a bid to stay viable as a business.

‘The secret is not to ignore the fact change can threaten the staff who, in turn, can become exhausted, cynical or depressed, which destabilises the organisation.

‘In the past three years the global economic crisis has sparked unprecedented change with businesses traditionally considered as solid, crumbling before our eyes.

‘Businesses know things are hotting up for staff, but they don’t know what to do about it.’

Some organisations are now taking stress tests to see how fit they are to survive more change with less money.

But the researchers say firms are less willing or able to judge if the people they employ are close to burnout.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) estimates it costs the UK £28bn every year to pay employee absence due to a wide range of mental health issues.

Ms Rumbles said: ‘Continual change can feel like bereavement and employees need time to recover and adjust after change, not be thrust again and again into new periods of uncertainty and new initiatives and restructuring.

‘Businesses need to plan change, execute it and then tell staff the turmoil is over.’

The researchers say employees need to believe their lives are meaningful, and that what they do has significance.

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