How to Keep Employees Productive During Tough Times

Search with Ctrl + F Last updated: 2022-08-14

By Mary Bacon

Even the most successful businesses go through challenging phases. COVID-19 pandemic has left many companies financially on the edge. It can be pretty hard for the managers and employees to remain motivated and perform well in such conditions.  As a manager and a leader, you must ensure that the employees remain productive. There are several small yet significant steps you must take in this regard. You must understand that it is a process, and not all problems will be fixed at once.

Let’s dig deeper into how to keep employees productive during tough times. 

Show Empathy 

You should show empathy and be considerate as a leader. It is a delicate balance when you push people to deliver better while ensuring that they are not pushed too hard. Understanding your employees’ problems and showing empathy is the key. Without empathy, you cannot manage people successfully.    

At times, your employees will make excuses for their lack of effort. However, there are occasions when they’re telling the truth. Some people will find it hard to adapt to the new processes or get used to the latest equipment. Even domestic problems can negatively affect performance. 

You must be able to recognize when you should take it easy. The workforce will respect you for that and give it their best. Your job isn’t just to be their boss but also someone they can look up to during tough times. 

Don’t be Impatient

As a leader, you’re eager to fix problems and boost productivity. Issues such as complicated procedures, redundancies, and lack of motivation among employees damage the overall output. All of these must be addressed. 

However, take your time and do not try to fix everything in one go. Problems do not arise in one day, and neither can they be fixed in a jiffy. Pick up the graver issues first and work your way down. It will also give your workforce time to adjust to the new realities. 

Define Your Expectations

Your subordinates must be aware of what you expect from them. You must define expectations in terms of goals and objectives in the face of changes due to economic woes. You must also put Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place. The previous expectations level may not be practical with varying business levels. 

This clarity will help your staff deliver better and according to your expectations. Without a proper understanding of what is expected of them in extraordinary circumstances, most workers will fail to deliver to their potential. 

Reward Good Performance 

When your workforce performs, they must be appreciated, even if the company is facing difficulties. Good performance should be rewarded, both verbally and in appraisals and increments. These gestures show the employees that you care for them. 

Such encouragement makes the workers satisfied and becomes more productive. Not getting recognition for work can be a massive de-motivator for the workforce, especially in the COVID-19 era. 

Communicate Well

Letting your workers know about what is expected of them is not enough. The communication must be clear in all aspects, and it should be a two-way street. Your employees should be able to comfortably discuss issues with you relating to their jobs and the processes. 

You can get some priceless feedback from the very people involved in the execution of the plans and can identify how implementation can be improved. They should be able to come to you without any fear of retaliation. 

Offer a Little Extra

The employees from the Millennial Generation prefer some extra perks at the workspace. Whether it’s some free snacks in the pantry or flexible working hours, they don’t mind it. Casual dressing at work may even keep them more loyal to the company. 

It is essential to offer them a little more to motivate them to work better. These perks are not about their bad attitude but more so about feeling comfortable. People happy at work are a lot more productive. It is a little extra in terms of expenses but it’s worthwhile.   

Fix the Workspace

The layout of the workspace is essential for greater productivity. An inefficiently designed office makes it harder for your workers to achieve their potential.  You can upgrade your office space to provide the staff with all the amenities they require. 

The type of work should dictate the seating arrangements, floor plans, lighting of the work area, amenities, etc. The work requirements may change during tougher economic periods. There will be added costs associated with such changes, but it is a worthwhile endeavor to get better long-term results.

Help Employees Grow

Hiring and training able people is the first step of assembling a solid team. However, you must ensure that they continue to grow as professionals. In-house training is not enough in the long run. Participation in industry experts’ training and seminars certainly helps your workforce learn more. 

Such experience allows your employees to catch up on the latest developments and apply them in their everyday work. They will also feel more confident and energetic, performing their tasks better. It will also help the company to perform better, gaining a competitive edge in a slow economy. 

The Bottom Line

Keeping employees productive is vital for a manager. However, various genuine and perceived factors can lead to a drop in their performance. It can be tough to lead staff towards productivity, especially when the business is facing challenges. 

Employing the carrot and stick philosophy helps. However, you must ensure that the employees get due rewards and proper treatment. At the same time, you must hold them accountable for their mistakes. A good leader will always discover the right balance and achieve the desired outcomes by applying the above principles.  

Author:  Mary Bacon is a managing director at Metro Office Fitouts. Her role is to advise her clients on the best office fitout solutions that are practical and cost effective. She also likes to share her knowledge on her company’s blog.