May 26, 2010
How would you feel if you worked at BP?
[Photo by hill.josh]
As if it weren't bad enough that 11 oil rig workers died in last month's offshore drilling explosion, Gulf Coast residents, business owners and politicians have lost their patience with the havoc the colossal oil leak has wreaked on their shores and livelihood. Round-the-clock media reports of the drilling disaster's oily aftermath, angry sound bites from the White House, dire speculations from scientists and environmentalists, and scathing statements from rig workers who survived the explosion aren't doing much to help BP's cause either.
So how might all this weigh on BP employees?
As MSNBC columnist Eve Tahmincioglu wrote last week, "Company calamities like the ones playing out at firms such as BP, Goldman Sachs, and Toyota do more than just impact a firm's reputation and bottom line. They also do a number on employees."
In other words, if an employer doesn't do some damage control with its own people, it could have another disaster on its hands. As Tahmincioglu's excellent piece points out, disillusionment, low morale, and feelings of shame about one's employer can often lead to low productivity, which in turn can lead to more on-the-job mistakes.
In times of crisis, the company that lacks transparency with its employees and doesn't own up to its mistakes in public isn't doing much to help retain the loyalty and support of its workers. A better bet, Tahmincioglu's article suggests, is to keep workers in the loop and give them a chance to ask questions, be it through web forums, an internal website, or companywide meetings or teleconferences.
Readers, how about you? Have you worked for an employer that's undergone a calamitous disaster or PR fiasco? How did those events make you feel? Did they affect your job performance? Your perception of the organization? What, if anything, did your employer do to boost worker morale and put your mind at ease?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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