How to Inspire and Motivate Employees in a Downturn (Hiring Manager Series)

How to Inspire and Motivate Employees in a Downturn (Hiring Manager Series)

Posted on 10 August 2022

If there is one thing the entire world can agree on, it’s that the past few years have been a bumpy ride — and that’s putting it mildly. From the beginning of the pandemic to the current recession, it often feels like we’re only just managing to keep our heads above water, and we’re still not in the clear. Job uncertainty is sustaining its all-time high, and many people have suffered losses of all kinds, from financial to personal. So, if your employees are dragging their feet around the workplace and talking dispiritedly about their place in the world, it’s time for you to put on your clown costume, paint your face, and jingle around your office with bells on your shoes.

We’re joking, of course. Here are some great ways to inspire and motivate your employers, without having to make a fool of yourself.

Create a stable environment

In uncertain times, it is important to find yourself an anchor. You can be that for your employees. If there has recently been a round of redundancies, or if the company has experienced an exodus of employees for whatever reason, bear in mind that the people left behind may be feeling unsettled. When your colleagues start to leave, it is only natural to feel a little flighty yourself, especially if you’ve built close relationships with them. Many companies have had to downsize during the pandemic, and many people have had to leave their positions for personal reasons. All this uncertainty takes a mental health toll, which can lead to depression and an overall decrease in motivation.

Try to be someone your employees can turn to. If they have questions about their future in the company, act as liaisons between them and upper management. Assure them that someone is looking out for them and addressing their needs and queries.

Practise Good Team Resource Management

Who are the people in your team, what are their skills and are you using them to their fullest potential? A great way to inspire greatness in performance is to help your staff remember that they are capable individuals and that you see their worth. Conversely, take a look at the workload and determine if an overload is part of the reason for employee burnout. Encourage your team to voice out any concerns they may have, and listen if they tell you something can be done better. This is another way to boost morale — assuring your staff that they have been heard and that their opinions and observations are valid. Their perspective could offer real solutions to problems you may be faced with.

Be Flexible

One of the biggest lessons of the pandemic is that a lot of work can be done anywhere, so long as one has a computer and a good internet connection. If your business was able to survive your employees working remotely, there’s no reason not to continue this now. Study after study has shown that productivity often increases when workers benefit from flexible working arrangements. When you trust your employees to manage their own time and workload, you also help foster a sense of autonomy. When we as individuals feel like we have control over our lives, we’re less likely to feel helpless and more likely to feel empowered.

Let them know it’s okay to push back

If your company, like many, has had to downsize, the people who are left may be expected to pick up the slack. Encourage your employees to speak up if they cannot meet certain deadlines. Ask them for their help in weeding out those practices that are non-essential and redundant. The benefits of this are two-fold — it lets your team know you are looking out for them, and it is a good opportunity to streamline your workflow and make your team more efficient. Bear in mind that it can be scary for the more junior members of your team to make their voices heard, and upper management may not be used to being said ‘no’ to, so on your part, you should stick to your guns and shield them from any fall-out that may occur.

Fill in the gaps

When team members leave the company, it can have an impact on the social dynamic of the workplace. It is important not to let other teammates stew in the absence of their colleagues. Make personal connections, and touch base with everyone affected to see if they’re doing okay. Reinforce team relations by taking a day out for an activity. Bowling, Laser-Tag, and Escape Rooms are great for building team spirit. Celebrate a birthday, or send around a card to congratulate someone’s newborn. This will help to foster a sense of continuity and camaraderie. We’re all in this together, and life goes on.

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