Business owners have a tough balancing act when it comes to employee motivation these days.
It can be tricky to keep the workplace humming in these grim times: Morale and productivity are down, you may be working with reduced staff, and there’s no budget for perks. And anything that looks like managers are pushing employees too hard now is a sure way to have people jump ship once the economy improves.
Even some well-intentioned moves can backfire if nervous employees are reading the proverbial tea leaves for signs that their jobs may be in danger.
Here are three proven techniques to get the most out of your employees without busting the budget — or their chops.
- Lead by example. Employees mirror what they see upper management do — especially in uncertain times. If employees see you and other top managers working as hard as ever, they get two messages loud and clear: That their project or department is still a company priority, and that whatever changes the company may be going through, job expectations haven’t changed.
- Cheap carrots still work. Maybe you’ve had to cut back on some perks, but the most motivational thing you can do — dole out liberal praise — is free. When workers feel like anyone’s job may be at risk, anything you do to show them that their efforts are recognized and appreciated is a huge morale booster.
- Use a ‘hurry-up’ offense. — If business is slower, employees may pad the amount of time it takes to do a task simply to make themselves look busier. It’s a basic ploy to make them feel their job is more secure. Taking a little extra time to ensure work is top-notch is one thing. But some employees may fall victim to do-just-enough-itis. Be sure to set specific deadlines for each task or project — and always have a future or stretch goal for them to shoot for.