• Ian

How to get more out of your employees during hard times

Updated: Nov 21


These days, it seems like there's always something new to worry about. First, it was the global pandemic that turned our world upside down. Now, we're facing an economic downturn that is likely to lead to widespread job losses. In times like these, it's more important than ever to get the most out of your employees, in order to show customers your products or services are worth the expense and to pull through past your competitors. But how do you do that when your workforce is already stretched thin and salary increases aren’t possible? This blog post will present a few ideas.


But first, why might it be such a challenge to get a bigger commitment from your workforce right now? Largely, it’s the impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on the workplace, facilitating remote working and a greater work-life balance. While this has been great for employees, it now presents a challenge for employers who need their staff to be working above and beyond what they're used to. Your workforce has only just achieved a good life-work balance - can you really take that away and expect to keep your staff?


The answer is yes, but you need to do it in the right way. The key is to focus on what your employees can gain from going the extra mile, rather than what they might lose. We'll go into this in more detail later.


In terms of other challenges, if you're a business carrying out redundancies, then you're asking those employees left behind to take on more responsibility without compensation. This can lead to feelings of devaluation, resentment and anxiety - all of which will hamper productivity, rather than increase it. So, it's crucial that you manage this situation carefully, communicating with your staff about why the redundancies are taking place and what you expect from those who remain.


Finally, what about those people who only entered the working population during covid and never knew the office-life before it? They may not feel the same sense of loyalty or understanding of ‘the grind’. So how can you overcome this new set of challenges and get the most out of your employees without making them feel overworked or undervalued?


Here are a few ideas.


1. Recognise how new workers may feel and set clear expectations for all


As we mentioned, some of your newest and youngest employees may not be familiar with the "grind" pre-covid and may not feel it is fair for them to work harder or for longer hours. They might feel like they are being taken advantage of because they are new and still trying to learn the ropes.


This is a legitimate concern, and you need to be sensitive to how your new employees might be feeling. One way to ease their anxiety is to set clear expectations from the start. Let them know what is expected of them in terms of hours and work output. This will help them understand that you're not asking them to do anything that isn't reasonable or fair.


In fact, with so much uncertainty in the world, it's more important than ever to be clear about your expectations for all your employees. If you need them to put in extra hours or take on additional responsibilities, let them know as soon as possible. The last thing you want is for your team to feel like they're being taken advantage of during tough times.


2. Offer flexible working arrangements


If you can be flexible about when, where and how your employees work, it will go a long way towards showing them that you're committed to their well-being and enable them to put in the extra hours around their other commitments.


If they need to take a break during the day or work from a different location, let them know that it's okay. This will show them that you trust them to get their work done and that you understand their needs outside of work.


3. Provide additional training and development opportunities.


During tough times, it's important to invest in your employees' development. If you can offer additional training or development opportunities, they'll be more likely to stick with your company during difficult times. Not only that, but they'll also be more likely to develop new skills that can benefit your business in the long run.


4. Show your appreciation.


One of the best ways to get more out of your employees is to show them your appreciation. Whether it's a simple thank-you note or a more tangible reward, let them know that you're grateful for their hard work. This will not only make them feel appreciated, but it will also motivate them to continue working hard for your company.


5. Offer incentives for going above and beyond


Incentives are a great way to encourage your employees to put in extra effort. Offer paid time off, or other rewards for those who go above and beyond their job duties, to show you're willing to invest in their success and that you appreciate their hard work.


6. Communicate openly and often.


Your employees are bound to have questions and concerns about the future of the company. Address those concerns head-on by maintaining open lines of communication with your team. Let them know what steps you're taking to ensure the company's long-term viability and let them know that their jobs are safe (for now).


7. Set an example


As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. If you want your employees to go above and beyond, you need to set an example yourself. Show them that you're willing to put in extra effort and that you're not afraid of a little hard work. This should hopefully inspire them to do the same.


8. Foster a team environment


No one likes to feel like they're working alone. Help your employees feel like they're part of a team by fostering a collaborative environment where your employees have opportunities to work together towards a common goal. Times are tough right now and we all need to pull together to get through it.


9. Get feedback from your employees


Your employees are the ones on the front lines, so they're bound to have some great ideas about how to improve the company. Get feedback from your team by holding regular meetings or sending out surveys. This will not only help you get some great ideas, but it will also show your employees that you value their input.


With the right approach, you can have discussions with your team that result in increased productivity without sacrificing their well-being. Be sure to start by understanding what areas need improvement and where your team members feel they could do more. Then, develop a plan together that includes clear targets and benchmarks. Make sure you also check in regularly to make sure everyone is on track and address any issues early on.


It is tricky to ask employees for more when they've just managed to find a good work-life balance, but it is possible as we’ve shown. By following these tips, you'll be on your way to having a productive and happy workforce. What methods do you use to encourage greater productivity from your team? Share them with us in the comments below!

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