During a recession logic dictates that managers need to work twice as hard at keeping their staff motivated, as not surprisingly, recessions cause people to be concerned about their jobs, security and future and as a consequence can become distracted at work.

However, a survey of over 1,600 workers by the campaign Keep Britain Working*, published last month, suggests that over half of all UK Bosses are worse at motivating their staff since recession began.

The survey cites some pretty appalling behaviour from bosses including bosses who:

  • Made staff clean toilets because they had sacked the cleaners to save money.
  • Advised a worker that people were queuing up for their job
  • Chanted “hit this target, keep your job…hit this target, keep your job”

The survey also identified that one in three bosses have increased their criticism and blaming of others, while one in six have started shouting and raging.

High levels of motivation and engagement from staff is even more important during a recession.  These are precisely the times when you need people to go the extra mile, be a bit more flexible and adapt to changing conditions.

Therefore organisations do not want managers who crumble under the pressure, shout, scream, blame others and demotivate them.. They need managers to

  • Demonstrate confidence and self belief that while times may be tough now this will pass.
  • Have a clear and positive vision for the future of the organisation –something that everyone can hang on to and focus their efforts on.
  • Lead by example – if managers want their staff to make sacrifices the have to be the first ones to do so.
  • Communicate clearly – listen and understand staff concerns and try to action them.
  • Collaborate with staff and help them to adjust and adapt to change.
  • Continue to challenge everything that the organisation does, looking for ways to improve and reduce costs.
  • Search for opportunities for further leaning development and growth.

Improving motivation will ultimately lead to greater productivity and help people make the most of any new opportunities, which should give the organisation a much better chance of long term survival.

* Keep Britain Working was founded by REED, the recruitment specialists. The campaign is backed by a broad range of businesses, the Prime Minister, the Mayor of London, all three of the main political parties, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC).