Maintaining Employee Morale During Hard Times

16 Feb

Do you sometimes get the feeling that your business is in a slump, and your employees are feeling the effects? Unsure of how to keep up the morale even during the toughest of times? That’s why there’s this list right here of easy ways to stay positive and keep employees happily at work even during those slumps.

Downsize the Problem

Whatever you’re going through as a business owner and whatever the business itself is facing, no matter how big the problem, don’t reflect it to the employees. They’ll know that something is off, but try to downplay the issue a bit. Don’t say things like, “I don’t know how this will ever get better.” Instead, choose things like, “Things are tough right now but we’re pulling ourselves out,” or “Things have to get worse before they can get better.”

Don’t keep employees in the dark when you’re having an issue, but try to stay positive about whatever is going on. Send a message of hopefulness and encouragement to your employees instead of panicked freak outs that things will never improve.

Show Simple Gratitude

If an employee does something particularly well, acknowledge it. It doesn’t have to be some big, grandiose gesture, but it can be something as small as sending an encouraging email or leaving a note at their desk saying you appreciate what they’ve done.

Even if budgets are tight, try to treat an employee or group of employees to lunch or breakfast once in a while to acknowledge the positive work that they’ve done. Keeping the morale high starts with you, the business owner, and one of the easiest things you can do is send a simple thank you to your employees.

Radiate Happiness

Even if you’re struggling as a business owner as your business itself struggles, keep a look of happiness on your face. Don’t go moaning and groaning around the office. Stay positive, and keep a smile on. It will spread to your employees.

Watch your body language and appearance, as well. Don’t let them reflect what you’re actually feeling in a slump (chances are, you’re feeling pretty crappy, but you don’t want to let that show). You’re the captain of your ship, always dress and act as if nothing is wrong.

Celebrate Holidays

Even if you can’t afford to offer paid time off for the moment, make sure you make it a point to celebrate holidays at the office. Offer up simple gestures to your employees that will break up the mundane tasks of their daily work. Maybe bring in lunch for your staff, or make it a casual day, or have them bring something in to mark the holiday.

Try to avoid having employees work on major national holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas, as this will only further decrease the morale. Major holidays should always be celebrated with time off, but for the smaller ones that pop up throughout the year, celebrate them in the office. Even look up more lesser-known holidays and celebrate those – National Pancake Day is February 28th, so bring in the fixins for pancakes and have a brunch at the office on that day! Ballpoint Pen Day is June 10th, so bring in an obscene amount of ballpoint pens for the whole office to use. It’s as easy as that!

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Don’t lock yourself in your office alone to mope around during hard times and shut yourself off from the rest of the world. In fact, do just the opposite. Make sure your employees know that you are available for communication and are willing to talk about anything that is going on. The last thing you want to turn into is the boss that everyone is afraid to talk to.

To take it one step further, even schedule weekly meetings to keep employees up to date with what is going on with the company. Map out a timeline, explain where you are now, and set goals for where you want to be in the future. Do so in a positive way. Treat whatever setback you are facing as just a minor storm that will pass.

Create Monthly Awards

Have a little friendly office competition each month for who is doing the best work of all of your employees. Create an “employee of the month” or even “employee of the week” award, design a certificate that can be printed, and start an employee wall, where you frame and hang each employees’ honor.

Not only will this help motivate each and every employee in your company, but it is a cheap and quick way for you to acknowledge the work that they are doing, only furthering the morale levels. Offer other small incentives that go along with the honors, like maybe your employee of the month gets the closest parking space in your parking lot for that entire lot, or maybe you take them out to lunch on the day you name them the recipient.

Conduct Employee Surveys

Formulate a survey to send around to employees once a month or once every two months or so, and have them fill out questions about how happy they are working for your company. Have them fill it out anonymously for the most honest and accurate results.

Leave a space on the survey for open employee feedback – a place where each person can offer up their advice on how to improve employee morale and what you, the business owner, can do to help that. Try to send the surveys electronically, have the employee fill it out on the computer, then print and return to you – that way they don’t have to worry about things like their handwriting being recognized or anything that might stop them from being 100% honest on their surveys.

Keep a happy working environment is the responsibility of the business owner and operator, and is critically important during tough slumps in business. With these simple ideas, you can improve and maintain your employee morale, which will in turn help your business pull through whatever it is that’s setting you back.

Sara Stevens is a freelance writer who works closely with Maintenance Partner, a company that offers specialized facility management software, and she knows the importance of maintaining a positive environment in any small business.


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