Module 2.1 – How to motivate workers in tough times

When times are tough, and everybody at work is nervous, managers must help employees/Team stay engaged, focused and motivated.

Here a few ways to help maintain productivity:

Everybody handles stress differently, so managers need to take a one-on-one approach. Talk informally with employees/Team members to find out what each needs to stay on track.

Keep your door open. Employees may need frequent assurances. Give them access to your time and be honest with them. Don’t be evasive or promise anything you can’t fulfil. Be candid but also let them know there are things you can’t discuss.

Don’t bear down on employees because you’re stressed out. Ordering employees around like a drill sergeant is counterproductive. Offer direction while allowing employees to come up with their own processes.

Praise and recognize hard work. There are plenty of simple but effective ways employers can recognize hard work, including emailing an appreciative note. Encourage other employees to follow your lead. Organize recognition of achievements or good work.

Help employees fulfil career goals. Sit down and find out what employees want to get out of their jobs and the company in general. If the employee wants to take on more responsibility or move into a different department, investigate the possibilities and get back to them with options. Offer clear paths each time. If advancement requires further training and development, then tell them about tuition assistance or scholarships the company may offer, if they offer anything. At the very least let them know your own experience and routes of personal development that enabled you to gain a position in a managerial role.

Move dissatisfied employees. Some employees can’t be motivated and their discontent can draw a disproportionate amount of time and energy away from managers. They can also bring down the morale of an entire team/unit. Ask how you can help improve their work experience. Offer to move them into another work area, a different department or even a different company.

Plug leaks. Intercept rumours immediately since they can grow into unsubstantiated concerns that can lower productivity. Especially when working in areas of a hostile environment as tensions can build much quicker.

Plan ahead. Set long term goals with employees to show they have a future role with the company. Monthly appraisals detailing areas of improvement and also highlighting their strong points are a good method of achieving this.

Get out of the office. Get on task with the team/a team you are in charge of. Take the time to be immersed in the environment that you are sending your subordinates into. Not only will this give you a greater insight into the work/role they are doing it will also gain you respect and trust within your team.

Keep your own worries to yourself. As a manager, you have two difficult jobs: empathize with employees and deal with your own stress. It’s important to keep your feelings private since your own apprehension can panic employees.


  • Set long term goals with employees to show they have a future role with the company.
  • Keep your feelings private since your own apprehension can panic employees.
  • Praise and recognize hard work.