Team motivation techniques for when times get tough

8 min read | Karen Young, Director of Hays Accountancy & Finance UK&I | Article | Wellbeing Retention | Staff engagement

Man in office talking to four work colleagues

Learn key team motivation techniques to employ in the good times – and the tough times. Karen Young, Director of Hays Accountancy & Finance, shares her top techniques to get your team motivated.


Team motivation techniques: Key insights

When your organisation is going through tough times, your employees will feel the pressure. Whatever the cause, uncertainty can affect the motivation and productivity of your employees. 

Likewise, 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 
  • unmanageable workloads. 

However, this is the time when you need your team at their best, and you’ll have to ensure you remove any doubt about where they stand.

So how do you keep your team motivated, productive and loyal?


Team motivation techniques: Background

Although encouraging employees to be more proactive can bring many benefits to an organisation, not all employees are willing or able to take the initiative at work. Why? Many potential reasons, including a lack of time, uncertainty over standing out, or losing face if their efforts fail.

Because of the potential cost, an employee is more likely to show their proactivity when they are confident, learning, and energised by their managers. Where possible, managers should spread the message of team motivation through their actions. Try to:

  • Empower employees to take success into their own hands
  • Challenge assumptions and spread positive messages
  • Foster trust between workers and management
  • Encourage workers to make build job security
  • Reward initiative-taking – even if it might not have worked.

How can managers do the above? That’s where my top team motivation techniques come in.


Open up communication

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.


Inclusivity by design

Transparency about the challenges your business faces 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.

How can you stop 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.


Recognise initiative and performance

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 times 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. Employers then act surprised when their workers look for a new role. Don’t let this be your downfall.


Encourage a work/life balance 

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 treat them to a nice lunch. These small gestures should help keep their spirits up.


Open up progression opportunities

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 
  • team training sessions
  • free online training tools. 

Allow staff 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.


Spread positivity

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. 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 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. Exclude negativity. Being positive will impact your employees’ attitudes towards their work, as well as their overall motivation.


Champion a consistent routine

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: 

  • team meetings 
  • one to ones 
  • weekly reports. 

Keep these in the diary, and stick to them. Steadiness will help your staff settle into work more easily, diminishing any negative energy.


Team motivation: Next steps for your business

Every company will face problems, but how you keep your team motivated in this crucial time is one of the things that matter most. Using the above tips, you will hopefully get rid of insecurity, helping your team feel appreciated, happy, and loyal.

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


About this author

Karen Young

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. She is also a trusted industry voice on career planning and market insights.

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