Hays UK jobs and employment blog



When times get tough, how do you keep your team motivated? 

By Karen Young, Director of Hays Accountancy & Finance

When your organisation is going through tough times, your employees will be feeling the pressure. Whether due to fluctuations in the industry or the impact of a wider economic and political sphere, uncertainty can affect the motivation and productivity of your employees. So how do you keep them loyal, productive and motivated?

Challenges in your business may cause hesitation around the very things that keep your staff positive and happy in their role. These can be things such as job security, financial benefits or a manageable workload. However, this is the time when you need your team at their best, and you’ll have to ensure you remove any doubt of where they stand.

Here are a few tips to mitigate these problems:


Set an open environment for your workers as soon as any change or challenges arise. Encourage them to be as honest as possible about any concerns they might have and be equipped with a fully prepared answer. By reassuring your employees you will avoid the risk of them jumping to incorrect conclusions via office gossip. This is particularly important if there are going to be any redundancies or budget cuts, or if you are planning to hire additional staff. They should be able to come to you with any questions they might have regarding the current situation.


Transparency about the challenges your business are facing is not enough. You should try to make effort to get constant input and feedback. Organising team meetings to discuss ideas and solutions is a great way to create an environment where people can openly speak up and contribute.

In a recent leadership blog, our CEO Alistair Cox goes into more detail on how to keep your best people from leaving. In this case, actions speak louder than words; if your team do not know that you have their best interest in mind they will look elsewhere. However, if they feel like they are needed, they will continue to grow and develop without any desire to leave.


Little things sometimes make the biggest impact. Whilst financial benefits may not always be possible there are other ways to ensure your team know if you care about their career. Especially during the time of uncertainty, it is vital to give credit where it’s due to keep morale high.

Throughout my years in the recruitment industry, I have seen one too many good employees complain about feeling underappreciated and demotivated, hence their desire to look for a new role. Don’t let this be your downfall.


An overworked team cannot stay that way for long without their motivation dipping. We all have to work a little (and sometimes a lot) harder when our business is under pressure but it is necessary to give your employees the balance they need. Working long hours can take a hard toll on your team. Offer to let them have the time back if possible or even if you treat them to a nice lunch. These small gestures should keep their spirits up.


Your team should feel constantly empowered to progress within their role. Although budget could be an issue, there are several ways to develop staff such as mentoring and free online training tools which build their skill sets. Advise them to attend seminars and webinars that will help them expand their knowledge within their field. With the encouragement to do better for themselves, they will naturally work harder towards team goals.


Tension is most likely to rise during difficult times and it is important to create a healthy environment for your staff to work in. Stay happy and talk informally whenever you get the opportunity - the chances are this will lighten the mood while your team are under pressure. Even if it’s something as small as asking about their weekend plans or how their evening was... every little thing counts!

Your attitude in the office will reflect on your employees; it’s not just what you say but how you say it. Although you also may be under slightly more stress, you need to keep in mind that you are the leader and not take this out on your team. Use your status to spread a happy vibe and exclude any negativity. This is will impact your employees’ attitudes towards their work as well as overall motivation.


Regardless of the difficulties within your organisation, it is important to keep working life as consistent as possible.

Continue ‘business as usual’ tasks as routine, such as keeping team meetings, one to ones and weekly reports in the diary. Steadiness will help your staff adjust to the situation with more ease and diminish any negative energy towards their future.

Every company will face problems, but how you keep your team motivated in this crucial time is one of the things that matter most. By using the above tips, this will hopefully get rid of any insecurity and help them to feel appreciated and continue to work hard.

To find out more, or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Karen is a Director and recruiting expert at Hays Accountancy & Finance. She provides strategic leadership to a team of 400 accountancy and finance recruitment professionals across 100 UK offices. With 20 years of finance recruitment experience, Karen has a track record of recruiting top finance talent for businesses across a range of industry sectors, and is a trusted industry voice on career planning and market insights.


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