Personal Finance

Ways to keep your employees motivated during crisis


Happy employees. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The world has changed dramatically over the past few months due to the coronavirus pandemic. A few months back, driving business results, inspiring and motivating employees and strategising how to beat the competition was a lot more straightforward. Things have changed significantly since then and we are now in a situation where every business is fighting to stay alive.

Companies are deploying survival strategies to keep themselves afloat by effecting pay cuts, redundancies and sending employees on unpaid leave. What do you do if you need to motivate employees and the bonus that was promised is now a far off and seemingly unreachable dream? What do you do if you are barely making ends meet as a business and need now more than ever for your employees to be motivated?

There are a few practical strategies that businesses can implement during this time to keep their employees motivated and drive stronger focus to achieving business results.


The current uncertain environment has led to an increase in anxiety among employees. It is important to communicate as much as possible on what the company’s plans are including what the current performance is, the mitigating interventions that the company has put in place to salvage the situation and what employees can do to help. Anxiety is heightened by fear of the unknown and the imagination running wild with worst case scenarios so the more information that is shared on the situation, the easier it is to manage the anxiety. The frequency of communication at the company wide level will need to increase during this period to allow people to ask questions and have them answered in an open forum. While leaders may not have all the answers, the questions will be a useful indicator of what the concerns are and will help them think through possible solutions later.


A powerful way to motivate employees would be to work out a bounce back plan for the business. The plan should not simply include the bouncing back strategy but should also include the requisite rewards to employees as business slowly recovers. In instances where pay cuts have been effected for example, a graduated plan depicting salary recovery as the business bounces back would be very useful. Employees knowing that every 10 percent in sustained business growth will be accompanied by a five percent salary increase will provide clarity for them as well as motivate them to keep pushing for results. There is a possibility that employees are worried about employers maintaining the slashed salaries even beyond possible business recovery and this would be an effective approach to managing any anxiety around this.


There is a very thin line between personal and professional life in our current situation. While many would have imagined that working from home is less stressful, the lengthy hours behind the screen without a break easily take a toll on the human body and mind. Businesses that are really serious about the well-being of their people can put in place a policy directive of a maximum number of hours per day that their employees should be on call to ensure work life balance and retention of high-quality output. Innovative ideas can not be generated by a tired mind and now more than ever, innovation is required for survival. Having eight zoom meetings per day is simply not effective and neither is it healthy.

Providing a platform for the team to come up with a plan on ways of working for example blocking particular hours of the day as a team to focus on home schooling is likely to be highly appreciated!

Kindness really is a superpower! Now more than ever, kindness is a superpower. Many employees are experiencing loneliness during this time especially those who live on their own. It is an excellent time to enhance relationships by checking in on your team through one on one conversations that are not business related and investing in thoughtful gestures for example surprise gift deliveries.

A special gesture that will cost practically nothing is a handwritten note saying thank you delivered directly to your employee’s doorstep!

The writer is a talent strategist.