How to keep employees motivated in difficult times


In many sectors, there are more job vacancies than candidates, and in some cases, this is putting pressure on employers to settle for second best. This shortage of skills is often referred to as a ‘war for talent’. If you’re an employer and are struggling to recruit the perfect people for the roles you have available, one of the things that will help you stand out is how you treat your people.



One of the biggest assets you can offer as an employer is to keep employee motivation high in difficult times. If you’re short of talent, the chances are that your good people are under more pressure than normal. For this reason, keeping your team motivated won’t only help you retain the good people you’ve got, but it could stand you in great stead for attracting new people in the future. But this isn’t an easy task.

Running a business is (more than) a full-time job and in the ideal world everyone would just get on with what you want them to do. But the world of teams and staff is rarely perfect. So, what can you do beyond offering an appropriate salary, good working conditions and financial rewards from time to time?

Here are 4 key things that we at Motivating Words think will help you keep employee motivation at the forefront of thoughts in difficult times:

  1. A shared vision. When times are difficult, employees often feel left out. It could be that your management team are dealing with things that simply can’t be shared with staff, but it’s important not to allow rumours to run riot or for people to feel under threat. During difficult times, employees are more likely to feel vulnerable and de-motivated. A great way to deal with this is through an open communication policy and a shared vision. When employees feel involved they tend to be more motivated.
  2. Recognising high performers. While a level playing-field is great in theory, the fact is that some employees put more effort into their duties than others. Again, this is a phenomenon that often comes into play during difficult times. Certain employees will rise to the challenge when times are tough and will pull out every stop to do what they can to help turn things around. Others will do all they can to be negative and take their foot off the gas. If you see this happening, it’s important to make sure that the people who are going the extra mile get rewarded.
  3. Realistic expectations. One of the most demotivating things anyone can face is having a list of tasks or roles that simply aren’t achievable. It could be that you’re going through difficult times and people are short on the ground, so fewer people are available to do the work? Or, it may be that you’re having to adopt new methods to turn things around? Either way, it’s important that your expectations are realistic in order to keep your employees motivated in difficult times. There’s nothing worse than having a workload that you know, that even with the best will in the world, simply can’t be achieved.
  4. Giving the chance to shine. In most companies, there are people who have great ideas and could hold the key to turning your business around. It’s essential to have a system in place that allows these people to shine. Not only will it motivate them; it’ll encourage others to be more innovative and inventive too.