How is the crisis affecting the atmosphere at work?

Service Business

In times of economic crisis, it is extremely difficult to create a good atmosphere in the workplace. Employees are not sure about their future and are wary of the management's assurances that their jobs are safe. In such conditions, rumors about the company's situation very often appear, which spread along office corridors with surprising speed. Such a situation negatively affects not only the atmosphere in the workplace, but also the efficiency of employees.

Rumors - layoffs, salary cuts ...

Gossip spreading in the workplace can cover several issues. Of course, the most important of them are the redundancies provided for by the management. The question then arises among employees: who will they be firing? Will entire departments be liquidated, and thus - all jobs, or will only some selected people feel the reduction of jobs? If only some people, who will decide on their selection? In such a situation, in order to “clean up” the atmosphere a bit, the company's management should define the criteria to be used in the evaluation of employees as soon as possible.

The layoffs are of course the worst-case scenario that affects - at least for now - relatively few people in Poland. Many more workers face wage restrictions. This is particularly true for people for whom bonuses, additional salaries (the so-called "thirteen") and awards constitute an important part of their income. This is especially the case in the budgetary sphere, where the basic salary, i.e. the part that is most difficult to reduce, is very low - notes Małgorzata Majewska, an expert of Therefore, employees count on additional elements of remuneration, which, unfortunately, are very easy to pick up or severely limit. No wonder that the corridors of numerous offices have been buzzing for months with rumors about the expected cuts in bonuses.

A situation of uncertainty - will we also slow down?

It is characteristic that the economic crisis has a negative impact on the working atmosphere not only in companies that are actually at risk. The sense of danger is also strongly felt in other companies that are financially sound but belong to the same troubled industry. Their employees are wondering aloud when the "black clouds" will come over their company.

It is in the interest of the entire enterprise that such a dangerous situation for the company is ended as soon as possible, but it is not easy. It is extremely difficult to fight such rumors. Employees at a company where a catastrophic rumor is spreading will not believe management's statements. Moreover, the more earnestly and more often the management assures that the company's condition is great and that it is safe, the more suspicious it will seem in the eyes of rank-and-file employees. - assures Małgorzata Majewska, expert of

Reaction to rumors

Attitudes towards rumors about the bad situation of the company coming from everywhere can be different. Some employees will react to them with increased effort, guided by a sense of loyalty to the company and concern for their jobs. This applies especially to small, several or a dozen or so companies, in which each employee knows all their colleagues and their families perfectly and knows what they do. This may add extra motivation in efforts to save joint jobs - emphasizes Małgorzata Majewska. Especially for small businesses, this can have some effect - having one exceptionally good contract can allow them to survive the worst period.

In the case of larger companies, the efforts of one employee, such as a salesman, are unlikely to save the entire enterprise, therefore it is more difficult to mobilize employees to adopt the “all hands on deck” attitude. Instead of mobilizing for additional efforts, there is an attitude of discouragement and negation, as well as a rumor about the company's financial condition or the management's plans for layoffs.

According to many people, the circulating rumors about planned layoffs deprive them of their motivation to work rather than motivate them to work intensively and to prove themselves to their superiors. It is so, among others, because decisions on dismissals are made very often without analyzing the results of a given person's work. By the decision of the management board of the corporation, taken outside the country, entire departments that bring losses or profitable, but no longer fit into the company's strategy, are liquidated. It does not matter then whether the person fulfilled their duties well or badly. In such a situation, it is difficult to feel that, for example, by devoting your free time to working overtime, anything can be changed. It is also difficult to expect a high motivation to work from a bank employee who has just learned that his company has, for example, $ 20 billion in losses and in other countries has laid off 50% of employees, liquidating entire departments dealing with a specific type of banking services - claims Małgorzata Majewska.

Therefore, many people in companies planning layoffs (or those that are only suspected of it) adopt different tactics. Rather than devoting time and energy to their current job, they are more concerned with finding another job, arguing that they are trying to "stay ahead of the facts". Of course, whether they have such a real possibility depends on their qualifications and the general situation in a given industry. The most qualified employees, with excellent CVs, are unlikely to have major problems with finding a job quickly. People with lower competences are more dependent on the situation on the labor market.

Conflicts between employees and between employees and management are the worst thing that can happen in a company that is rumored to be in trouble. In such a situation, accusations and distrust inevitably arise. Employees assume that their colleagues are falling into the favors of their superiors to keep their jobs. Regular employees feel that their superiors are not trying enough to save the company - evaluates Małgorzata Majewska. In turn, management may assume that employees should work more and more efficiently - but not necessarily for higher wages. If such a situation is not clarified, e.g. by decisive information from the management, any remedial plans will be implemented with major problems.

Why be nervous? Work is not everything ...

Another, common reaction to the circulating rumors about layoffs or actual layoffs is a specific “re-evaluation of attitudes”. People for whom a career was the most important to a certain point and were ready to sacrifice a lot for the company, notice that other things, such as family or personal development, are also important. "If I have a job or not, it doesn't depend on me, but on a director I don't even know, then maybe it's better to take care of something that is important to me?" Under the influence of such thinking, many people decide to start a family for a long time or ... to start their own business - sums up Małgorzata Majewska.

Author: Małgorzata Majewska, expert at