How HR can lift morale during times of high-stress

Periods of increased pressure are expected in certain industries but that doesn’t mean HR should just wait for it to blow over.

In many industries, periods of increased pressure are an inevitable part of the job – but that doesn’t mean HR should carry on “business as usual” and wait for it all to blow over.

HRD Crystal Dunlop says offering extra incentives and bolstering support for your staff during their, albeit temporary, time of need is essential if you want to avoid burn-out.

Dunlop is currently helping employees at a leading accounting firm cope with the end of the fiscal year, so she’s no stranger to added pressure.

The firm, RLB LLP, was recently recognized by Aon Hewitt as one of the best employers in Canada – so HRM asked Dunlop how she keeps everyone happy when they’re under such hectic schedules.

People count

The firm’s slogan, “People Count”, is integral to their success – and it’s more than just a catch-phrase, insists Dunlop – it’s a philosophy.

“Remembering to treat people like people – even at exceptionally busy times – is so important,” says Dunlop. “You can’t expect people to just grind work out and wait to do it again – there has to be more, you have to be having fun too.”

Family time 

Employees aren’t the only ones suffering when they put in extra hours at the office – their families do too – but RLB tries to make it a little easier for everyone by hosting family-friendly events.

“We hold fun events that help employees spend extra time with their families when they can,” reveals Dunlop.

So far, RLB has hosted family bowling nights, cooking classes and even some movie nights – complete with popcorn, sleeping bags and blankets.


Overtime and hours 

“It’s their peak season so of course there’s a lot of tight deadlines and lots of long hours,” says Dunlop, “but we monitor the hours because we don’t want employees burning out.”

And, in a move which is somewhat rare for the accounting industry, RLB actually pays overtime to professional employees.

To add to that, employees can also look forward to the summer – where they reap the rewards of putting in all those extra hours by gaining every Friday off.

Mini mood-boosters

Small things that lift employees’ spirits – even by a little – are definitely worth doing during especially stressful periods, says Dunlop.

Just some of the mood-boosters RLB has introduced to keep employees happy include; motivational Monday music, healthy snacks, an employee baby-photo wall, chocolate day, masseurs on site and a week of cookies counting down to a “huge tax-party” on April 30th.

“It’s all to encourage employees to take a break and it goes back to making People Count,” says Dunlop. “We truly believe that people are our most valuable asset and you have to look after them.”

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