Motivation in the downturn — what’s working now

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

0 thoughts on “Motivation in the downturn — what’s working now”

  1. We are a boat manufacturing business. Our hourly employees are on an extended layoff due to the effect of the economy on our sales; our salaried employees have continued to work . Each month HR has sponsored an activity for the salaried employees. (1)We had a 50’s break where we made rootbeer floats, played 50’s trivia and listened to hits from the 50’s. It was a really fun time with much competition between those in their 30’s and those who were 50 and older! (2) We had an extended break one afternoon and had a Guitar Hero competition. M&M’s, chips, and Kool-aid refreshments. Hillarious and much fun!!!!!!!!!!!! (3) Everyone brought a baby photo. I enlarged them and posted them for several days. Everyone was given a sheet to guess who each photo was. It was one of the best times we have had! (4) In October everyone will have a drawing of a haunted house and they will decorate it however they like using any materials. Should be really competitive and fun!

  2. We are a boat manufacturing business. Our hourly employees are on an extended layoff due to the effect of the economy on our sales; our salaried employees have continued to work . Each month HR has sponsored an activity for the salaried employees. (1)We had a 50’s break where we made rootbeer floats, played 50’s trivia and listened to hits from the 50’s. It was a really fun time with much competition between those in their 30’s and those who were 50 and older! (2) We had an extended break one afternoon and had a Guitar Hero competition. M&M’s, chips, and Kool-aid refreshments. Hillarious and much fun!!!!!!!!!!!! (3) Everyone brought a baby photo. I enlarged them and posted them for several days. Everyone was given a sheet to guess who each photo was. It was one of the best times we have had! (4) In October everyone will have a drawing of a haunted house and they will decorate it however they like using any materials. Should be really competitive and fun!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *