Whether we like it or not employees bring their personal problems to work, and emotions run high in the workplace. Tough economic times can make the situation worst unless management is pro-active about the situation and creates a relaxing upbeat environment.
During times of difficulty, it is especially important for employees to feel like winners. It is difficult to be productive in an environment where employees around them are dropping out like flies at a summer picnic. Fear and apprehension run high, and they are feeling they will be next.
This is a time to make sure you are totally in touch and "in tune" with their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Implementing advisory groups or committees to address these concerns is an effective proactive step. A committee will allow all employees to open up and offer their opinions on how to handle morale issues. This makes them feel like their opinion counts and it also gives them a feeling of being "attached" rather than "detached" sitting around waiting to get their pink slip. This proactive move will also increase productivity by removing fears of layoff.
Corporate america is slowly shifting to a coaching style of leadership and moving away from the traditional management style. A coaching style has been proven to be more effective because it encourages employee buy-in instead of creating the departmental rules and enforcing them.
It's important to keep in mind that employees are a company's number one resource. Frequently management loses sight of this fact and places too much focus and emphasis on "what" the company manufactures (it's products) instead of placing the emphasis on "who" runs the company (it's people).