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Dealing With Reality in an Economic Downturn

There can’t be anything more stressful in today’s marketplace than coping with an economic downturn. Gas prices are sky high, which impacts the cost of goods and services in all industries; large corporations are laying off workers; the housing market is struggling to rebound; and employees are wondering what will happen next.

Human Resource or Personnel departments are dealing with management teams planning on how to be more cost effective and looking at budgets to determine where they can trim costs. Employees are looking at how to balance their home budgets against rising costs in all commodities, while dealing with organizations who are not in a position to give increases to accommodate the cost of living increases.

All of this creates STRESS. What is the answer? There is no quick fix but there are ways companies can assist employees looking at monetary crisis.

* Talk to your insurance broker and ask if they have any programs you can present in-house to your employees to discuss:

- Wellness and health cost saving techniques

– Financial planning

– Budget preparation

– Access to financial assistance

* Communicate with your employees to make sure they are comfortable and aware of what is going on. It stops rumors and makes the employee feel a part of the process.

* Survey your clients to let them know you care and you are looking to be a resource to them during the rough times.

* Look at your budget and see where you can effectively save time and money, without compromising quality and service.

The last thing you need or want is stress over a possible lawsuit. Make sure you are in compliance where needed and if you don’t know for sure, get someone with experience to do an audit to make sure you are doing all you should be doing. If you have an Employee Manual, make sure you are following your own policies. If you don’t have a Manual, look into putting one in place.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance. Stress will continue to be there – you just need to learn to manage it.

Cathy Baniewicz has over 30 years experience in human resources. Her career began at Beatrice Foods Co., where she progressed to Assistant Director of Affirmative Action and Corporate Personnel Manager. Prior to joining EffortlessHR, Cathy was Assistant Director of Human Resources at Golden Eagle Distributors, Inc. (Budweiser). Cathy has her B.A. degree from DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, and MBA from George Williams College, Aurora, Illinois. Cathy obtained her Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification in December of 2004.

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