How to Keep Your Staff Motivated During Tough Times

We’ve spoken a lot about recruiting new staff, but what about the ones you’ve already got? If there’s been no recruitment for a while and people are leaving, those that are left can begin to get a bit jumpy, maybe even worried about the future. This is worse if you’re a large company that has to report results and, let’s say, the results aren’t that good?

During these times, it can be tempting for managers to hide away and try to avoid dealing with staff so they don’t say the wrong thing. If you’ve been told redundancies are inevitable, then you might not want to discuss anything with staff in case you let the cat out of the bag, but this can become very demoralising. No news is very rarely good news in these instances, and a wall of silence can reduce morale and result in a loss of efficiency.

So how do you keep everyone happy?

Don’t Take Stress Out on Employees

As a manager, it can be tough. If times are hard at the company, you could be facing a lot of difficult decisions, but it’s important not to lose sight of the goals of the company, and make sure you keep focussed on turning things around. Even so, the stress can get to you, and it’s tempting to take it out on your employees.

Being angry with people, not having patience and any generally unprofessional behaviour could be counterproductive and result in a workforce that isn’t working to their best ability.

Take time to relax, make time to talk to your staff and stay calm.

Don’t Lie

A friend of mine was working at a company in a volatile industry. He was looking to get a mortgage, and one of the stipulations was that he get a written statement from his employer that his job was safe and there were no plans to make him redundant. This was seen as standard and relatively normal, and he put the request in.

Two days later he got the letter and all was good. A week later, the mortgage was approved and the house he was after was, within days, his.

Two weeks after that, he was given his redundancy notice.

The company knew he was going, but in order to keep the news from everyone else and to quell any panic that things might be going wrong, they lied to him.

This is never the right idea. Lying serves no purpose and in fact, it put my friend in a tough situation.

There’s a misconception that by telling one person one thing, you protect the others, but when the truth does eventually come out (and it will), it could cause even more stress among your workers.

Praise Hard Work, but Not Too Much

You should be praising the work your staff do anyway. But, during hard times it can be tough to keep on with the rewards, but it’s essential you do. If you’re the sort of manager that typically goes out of their way to help and praise, but suddenly you’re in meetings all the time and walking around glum, it will give the wrong impression.

Conversely, praising too much and over-compensating can also give the wrong impression, so try to strike a balance.

Have an Open Door Policy

If there is a worry that announcements will be made, you should go out of your way to be available to anyone that needs to chat. Information and clarity of communication is vital during these times and any attempt to hide will give the wrong message to your staff.

Although you obviously don’t want to be bothered all the time, try to be there as much as possible.

Attack Rumours Head On

When the rumour mill starts, it’s essential to squash them immediately. They can get out of hand and cause a lot of worry among staff, so do your best to ensure all rumours are reported. Make it a policy to check with staff and ask them what they’ve heard so you can deal with it.

If you have a large office, regular communication is key to ensure all rumours are dealt with and the truth is kept at the top of the agenda.

Above all, keep calm, keep your staff informed and maintain the truth at all times.