How to toughen up your team

Internal communicators have a key role to play in empowering their workforce in times of crisis


In our present world, countries, organisations and individuals can experience various types of crises, the most important being our current economic and financial crisis. Facing crisis within organisations, whether its source is due to the external or the internal environment of the company, requires serious efforts on the part of top management to gather available resources, mobilise people and design the necessary steps to help the organisation survive. Undoubtedly the most severely affected victims of organisational crisis are employees. One common side effect of crisis is downsizing which means that some people lose their job with scarce possibilities to find employment, especially after a certain age. The remaining employees suffer from work overload and from the sense of loss which results from being separated from colleagues with whom they had spent years working together.

The strength to survive

Some other common consequences of organisational crisis include cuts in salaries, benefits and training. Employees witness job insecurity (which often leads to increased employee turnover, especially for more talented employees), loss of work motivation and lack of job satisfaction. Here we must mention the so-called ‘survivor syndrome’ which is much discussed in management literature. It refers to the low morale that hits employees who have survived downsizing and who feel that their company is unfair and that their own turn is soon to come. In order for a company to face all the above and manage an exit from crisis it needs all the support it can get from its employees. Nothing can be achieved without the following:

Nancy Papalexandris

Nancy Papalexandris is a professor of management in the department of marketing and communication as well as director of the MSc programme in human resource management at the Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece. She served as vice-rector for academic affairs and personnel of her University (2001-2007) and has represented the Greek Rectors’ Conference at the European University Association.