It’s a difficult time of year for employers and employees. Combined with a challenging economic environment, things might be particularly challenging. Sue Tumelty offers some thoughts on how to maintain staff motivation through January and beyond.
Unless you’ve run a business it’s hard to understand the pressures that company owners are under, or comprehend the unique emotions faced during periods of uncertainty or recession.
However for business owners, it’s tempting to think that employees receiving regular pay should simply be grateful for the security afforded them. That financial reward is enough to keep them loyal and motivated. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.
So, given the invaluable asset that loyal staff are to your business, as a business owner during challenging times one of your key priorities must be to do all you can to keep them engaged, satisfied and motivated.
Make staff feel like they belong
Employees may not be as versed in the complications of running a business. But there’s wisdom in common sense and you can fairly sure that, as a group, they’ll understand more about how things are going than you give them credit for.
As such, they’ll appreciate being given a feeling of belonging, like they’re an important part of your journey and valued as an asset.
How do you do that? At the very least by thanking them for their efforts, offering any perks you can afford and showing you appreciate them.
I’d recommend going a step further and asking for their input and updating them on your business goals and relevant news. Rather than trying to survive as a lone castaway in a stormy sea, you may be surprised how much supportive input you generate by asking for their contributions and ideas.
Managing staff during a restructure
It’s an unfortunate but unavoidable truth that many companies will need to restructure when times are as challenging as this.
You will have legal obligations to communicate with staff properly during any redundancy process which may arise. However have you considered how to discuss the future following a reorganisation?
While many managers may hesitate to share negative information with employees after such a process, it’s only fair to be open and honest with them. Failure to do so will suggest that your employees aren’t sufficiently important to warrant communication – this is a sure fire way to demotivate those people you’re relying on for the future success of your business.
How to keep employees informed, and productive
Rather than putting your head in the sand when it comes to articulating your intentions, I would recommend using good communication as a way of mitigating fears which employees will naturally have.
You should view your employee relationships as an opportunity to build rapport, so that their energies are focused on customer service rather than doubt, fear and gossip. Newer employees in particular, who lack the redundancy and employment rights of longer-serving staff, will certainly be sitting tight in times like these. So it’s vital to get them motivated and productive.
Employees will want to know that they are integral to the survival and future prosperity of your business. They will want reassurance that their jobs are secure, that the company has a direction and purpose, that any previous redundancies were taken as a last resort and were integral to the future business strategy.
As long as you can reassure them that they have opportunities to advance their careers, with clearly articulated expectations of the role they have to play, you can nurture a team of productive and proactive professionals. The alternative? Poor communication, demotivated staff and a business which will lurch from one crisis to the next.