The U.S. and its citizens have endured — in some cases, continue to endure — one of the country’s worst economic setbacks in recent history. As unemployment increased, the stock market declined, the banking industry scrambled and the housing market stalled, our country’s future seemed uncertain. And, as we are pulling out of this recession, we know that its effects will be felt for years, even decades, to come.

But, optimistic water treatment professionals that I have talked to and interviewed over the years have expressed hope for better years ahead. These individuals have shared all the new lessons they have learned to do business today. For instance, although the economy wavered, certain industries, especially technology, forged ahead and helped fewer employees complete more tasks.

Some water treatment dealers have reported “not missing a step” these past few years. But, most have followed the program of reducing staff and having current employees do more with less.

Over recent years, these business owners and managers have had to make difficult decisions regarding employees. In an effort to stay in business and maintain profits to the best of their abilities, owners and managers cut staff, reduced budgets and piled work on existing employees’ plates. Furthermore, employee appreciation efforts were curbed at many companies.

The good news is that the water treatment industry, especially point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry (POE), is poised for growth moving forward. As dealers recover, along with the key economic indicators, how they reinvest in their company and their employees will be good indications of the lessons they learned during these past five-plus years.

It is now time to step back and assess how you stayed in business during these uncertain times and which employees did the heavy lifting. Managers can recognize their most valuable employees beyond monetary compensation. Recognizing these people at company events and important meetings can help their self-esteem and worth at the company.

Good, loyal employees will stay with you through thick and thin as long as you treat them fairly and understand the importance of recognizing their extra efforts.      

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