Staff ordinarily stay motivated and excited when they are up for promotion or when business is good. But when cash flow is down and decision-makers have to deal with stressful situations, the negative effects on employees can begin to take its toll. In hard times, managers need to be extra careful about how they keep their workers focused and involved. Each person handles stress in a different way, so a one-on-one approach is especially important. Here are six important ways to keep staff motivated during trying times.

1. Remain consistent

Business leaders should make decisions in a consistent way. Their employees should trust that all decisions are made for the right reasons and will be changed when there are good reasons to do so. A business owner shouldn't be moody or have a favourite person on the team. Ego has to go if a group is going to be successful. So make your people feel special and supported by giving them these kinds of psychological safe zones, starting with consistency. This will ensure you remain reliable in their minds and promote trust among the team.

2. Above all, be honest

There should always be trust between a business’s leader and those who follow. Trust builds and maintains relationships, but also has to be earned. When people on a team trust each other, they are ready to deal with even the most difficult of situations. Without trust, however, the future is uncertain. Politicians and other people in power can manipulate people by being economical and dishonest with the truth, but once the truth has been destroyed, it is almost impossible to bring it back. So even if the message isn't popular, in the long run, it's much better to be honest and open. 

3. Listen to your team 

It's important for staff to feel like they have a say in what's going to happen, this lowers stress and boosts morale. It is both important and helpful to make informed decisions by talking to the people who do the work every day and working with their feedback. Bearing in mind that while you hold the bigger picture in mind, using their skills and knowledge can save you time and money long term. 

4. Praise and incentivise 

People thrive on incentives just as much as businesses do. So think about how you can use rewards to motivate your team and promote appreciation. Rewarding these things on a regular basis will drive change from the bottom up and across levels and hierarchies, making the business not only ready for the recession but also ready for what comes next. Incentivising lets staff know they are appreciated and also builds a strong culture among employees, increasing customer loyalty, and improving the brand's reputation in the market.

5. Give your staff options

There are a number of ways to cut costs without reducing the amount of money in the incentive purse: Hybrid work models that cut down on both operational and travel costs, making better use of technology, helping employees learn how to better manage their own money, and long-term incentive plans are just a few examples. Leaders should double down on thinking outside the box when things are tough instead of risking valuable incentive programs that have worked in the past and are now more than just a "nice-to-have." 

6. Don't just think of money 

Motivation comes from a complex mix of internal triggers and outside forces. Employees are moved by a lot of things besides money, like trust and responsibility, good working conditions, personal growth, strong relationships, and the chance to make a difference. The Virgin Group gives its employees the chance to use their skills to help people in poor communities and developing countries become successful entrepreneurs. This is a great example of this alternative thinking. Contrary to what most people think, external rewards like money, status, and pleasure, are only the second most important thing. Low tides and recessions are times when workers need more space, resources, and care, all of which are in support of their personal motivations. 

The bottom line

Recessions are events that not only change businesses and also shift the lives of those who work there. So instead of hunkering down and cutting the corners required to keep your team motivated, rather rethink the first-order principles that your organisation is built on. If done right and from a good place, you can succeed in building a  hopeful new chapter in the team's journey, which will see you through the recession and beyond. To fund your business’s next incentive strategy in the next 48 hours, contact Merchant Capital today. 

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