Keys to Motivating Your Employees in Rough Economic Times

Managers are always struggling to ensure their employees live up to their potential. One of the biggest reasons employees aren’t as productive as they could be is that they are discouraged with their work environment. This is particularly true during an economic downturn, so employers will need to be especially diligent about keeping their employees motivated during a recession.

team meeting
Motivating employees with fresh ideas – like having a meeting outside, perhaps? Image by Office Now

The recession officially ended in 2009, but the economy still hasn’t fully recovered. You may have seen many of your employees are discouraged with the state of the economy and those concerns may be playing out in their work. There are some factors you should take into consideration to keep your employees happy during this economic downturn.

Don’t Accept Silence as Motivation

Many managers assume that employees are happy if they aren’t voicing any concerns. They simply write off any unproductive employees who don’t speak up as being unmotivated.

Some employees aren’t comfortable telling their managers when they have concerns. This is especially true during a recession. Employees are usually particularly cautious about protecting their jobs when they hear of many people who are being laid off on a regular basis.

Make sure you take the time to speak to your employees and gauge how happy they are. They will be more loyal and productive if they see that you care about their needs.

Do Communicate Changes

Employees are always concerned about changes in the company during a recession. They are likely to be afraid that their pay may be cut or they may lose their jobs if the company needs to reorganize.

You must do everything you can to assuage your employees that you won’t keep them in the dark. Communicate any major changes with them and assure them that you will keep their interests in mind.

Don’t Use Money as a Motivating Tool

Far too many managers believe that their employees are primarily motivated by money. Everyone is going to be motivated by different things, but studies have shown that few employees are strongly motivated by money. A bonus or pay raise might be a way to encourage employees for a few months, but that drive will fizzle out after a while. Most people will get burned out and reach the point where money ceases to encourage them to work harder. The best motivating ways to motivate employees are:

  • Giving them work they feel passionate about.
  • Assigning them tasks they feel lets them make a difference.
  • Showing appreciation for their work.

Money still plays a role in motivating employees, but you can’t use it as the only driving factor. This is especially important to keep in mind during a recession, when your company likely has less money to share. Focus on building relationships with your employees and making them feel they serve a viable role in the organization instead.

Motivating Employees in a Poor Economy Can Be Difficult

Economic downturns can create negative vibes through your organization. You will need to work twice as hard to keep your employees happy and productive. Invest the effort in them, because creating happy employees should always be a priority for any business owner.

About the Author: Kalen Smith is an entrepreneur and business advice columnist.