Employee “Stress Tests”: Invest Now in Human Capital

The recent banking Stress Tests just revealed that an infusion of $74.6 billion in capital will be necessary for banks to withstand the recession. Shrewd managers might be well advised to follow suit with their employees and conduct a “stress test” of their own.

The goal? To similarly determine how their staff is withstanding the recession, the downsized workforce and the oversized workload. I can’t think of a better way to “invest” – only it’s investing in invaluable human – not banking capital.

Performing a “wellbeing audit” of employees is not a costly, timely or complex proposition. By proactively checking in with your team, keeping an “open door” policy, being a good listener, and letting the team know that it’s okay to make mistakes, you’re off to a very good start. A humanized workplace versus a sanitized workplace is a lot more enjoyable for everyone.

Recently, in the Society for Human Resource Management’s publication, SHRM Online, we explained why it makes good business sense to reach out to your team, especially during difficult times. The alternative is fear and mistrust – an environment that encourages what I call Terrible Office Tyrants™ (TOTs).

From a future recruiting standpoint, when we’re in recovery mode, every resume will become a valued commodity. Employees (and customers) have long memories, and in every industry there are key players that somehow make the field very small: good to remember if you’re in a recruiting capacity.

Imagine a workplace that becomes so “efficient” and de-humanized that you walk past the conference room and witness an apparition of robotic staff winding up with: “LOL”, “Well, IMHO…”, “K”. You walk down the hall, and a colleague apologetically bumps into you, gasping, “OMG!” (P.S. Did you read that as letters or three words?) Let’s hope for a more humanistic style of management before this happens!

National studies commissioned by Lynn Taylor Consulting suggest that the recession has created a lot of pent up tension from overworked staff – which will hopefully ratchet down soon. When the rebound occurs, employees will be sure to seek those environments that invest the most in collaboration and human capital. Will that be yours?