EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Weathering the Storm

January 22, 2009

Build a happy place

Keeping up workplace morale helps retain workers through toughest times

(Continued)

Think strategically

Most entrepreneurs, don't look up from their business long enough to think strategically, Parent said.

"Time has to be spent on strategy," she pointed out.

It's important to ask the question: "'Where do I want to be in five years?'"

Employees, too, benefit from knowing management's long-term vision. Parent believes businesses are more likely to retain good staff when they know the company has big plans for the future.

"Employees are more likely to be excited about the business and want to be part of the team," she said.

Thrive through change

"All the research on change and morale points to trusting, communicating, participation," Parent said. "It is a leap if you have a business that doesn't generally do this, and it is a risk that management has to take. These are different economic times and we need to try different things."

Parent said people absolutely can thrive through change and perform better after a change.

"I have found that people who participate, (who) are optimists and are clear on their roles are the ones most likely to thrive through change," she said.

QUICK TIPS TO BUILD POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT

For management:

Address stress

Create a culture of optimism and empathy

Communicate honestly

Define clear roles

Gain participation

Think strategically

For employees:

Build social support with team members

Have an outlet for stress

Participate in change

Understand your role or help define it

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