How to Motivate Employees

For the most part, people are adapting to their temporary working environments. Still, there is a fear that productivity and/or customer experience will suffer as a result. Motivation is a key factor for performance. In order to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t hijack your team’s enthusiasm, leaders must know how to motivate employees.

When it comes to leading your new workforce, make sure you are taking steps to maintain employee morale.

How to Motivate Employees: Step 1

Stay calm.

It may feel like the world is falling apart, but it’s our job as leaders to safely and confidently guide employees, clients and other stakeholders through this storm. Establish a communication schedule to your various audiences and consistently provide updates through each, respective channel. Make sure the information you are sharing is purposeful, helpful and straightforward. Don’t assume people understand the details. Without all the facts, humans are prone to anxiety. So, you’ll want to cover the 5 W’s—Who? What? When? Where? Why? Lack of communication can result in unfounded conclusions and angst. So communicate early and often. Share the challenges the business is facing, and how the organization plans to overcome them. Provide company benchmarks and regular status updates. Supporting an open dialogue grows confidence and generates greater solutions.

Good news or bad, you are building trust and credibility as a leader. Be steadfast, confident and stay positive.

How to Motivate Employees: Step 2

Be genuine.

Beyond the importance of transparent, frequent communication, leaders must be genuine. Virtual reality maybe helping us manage our workforce from afar, but it’s vital that we speak earnestly to the reality of our “here and now.” Being a leader does not mean you are emotionless. So remember, that keeping it real, helps us all. As humans, we appreciate knowing we aren’t alone in our struggles. Sharing real-life challenges makes you more relatable. Not everyone is working from home gracefully. There’s no need to pretend we don’t all stumble from time-to-time. We’re all in this together, remember? It’s stressful to maintain a sense of normalcy when conducting business unusual. And, humor can be a helpful remedy. Share a less than glamorous reality of your new work environment with your team. Knowing that you accidentally video-chatted the executive team during a sing-along with your kids (with full-on toddler screams as your only back-up) may bring a shared sense of “normalcy” or at least a smile to those who’ve had their own embarrassing mishaps.

Above all, be sincere. Trustworthy leaders are relied on for their honesty. Grow confidence in your workforce tomorrow by building on a foundation of integrity today. Your future workforce will thank you.

How to Motivate Employees: Step 3

Let go.

I get it. There’s a fine line between letting go and leading. But, part of building trust is relinquishing control. And in this current environment, emotions are at an all-time high. It’s important to regulate stress levels. Exercise reason. If it’s not reasonable to continue initiatives that were planned at the beginning of the year due to reduced staff, hours, manufacturing/logistical delays, then it’s time to reevaluate your team’s goals. You should be asking if the goals that were established in January are even relevant in today’s climate. If the answer is no, then chances are the initiatives won’t yield the intended results anyway. And, adding a heavier workload to those who are already feeling taxed can cause rapid burnout.

Being inflexible does not make you a better leader. In fact, it demotivates. Of course, you must establish goals and maintain healthy productivity levels for business continuity. But, trying to maintain control over an unknown situation, is not reasonable. More so, it can negatively impact your staff and your bottom line. Stifled teams often produce uninspiring results—not the positive outcomes you are seeking. That’s not good for our people or our businesses. Knowing how to motivate employees starts by evaluating your business objectives. Consistently reevaluating those objectives is key to leading your new workforce.

How to Motivate Employees: Step 4

Get creative.

Giving up some control can also make way for more creativity. So, once you’ve redefined your business objectives, start creating. Engage your team to find alternative routes. What has changed within your business environment? Where does the future lead? When faced with challenges, we often find ourselves pushing past the limitations we knew in the past. Fostering creative thinking—at all levels—means providing a platform by which all voices can be heard. Are you listening? How are you responding? Even the smallest successes can build morale. Encourage new ideas and reward those who are seeking them. Productivity and service goals will fall in line when employees are happily engaged in their work.

Creative problem solving comes from thinking outside the box. Make sure you are giving your team the space and tools to color outside of the lines.


Jaime Miller
Jaime Miller

Previously serving as Atrium’s Director of Communications, Jaime Berghout, is genuine people enthusiast with over a decade of experience guiding business operations, culture and corporate affairs. Understanding that community and connectedness are as essential to business strategy as they are to the people who implement it, she is passionate about creating content that engages diverse audiences and influences meaningful messaging.