How to keep your employees motivated during quiet times

All businesses go through quiet periods. If you are in charge of a group of employees, you are bound to encounter slow days when there just doesn’t seem to be much to do. If left without direction, even the most diligent employees may lack the motivation to keep themselves busy during these periods.

While busy periods will vary between industries, winter is generally a slow time for many businesses. And particularly, bad weather can exacerbate this trend by discouraging or even preventing customers from getting out. This can lead to lower footfall for brick and mortar stores, and so these are especially susceptible.

If you’re concerned about your employees’ motivation levels during quiet periods, here are some ideas of ways you can encourage them to keep up their energy and their productivity levels.

Why is it important to stay motivated when things are quiet?

Dips in employee motivation can be seriously problematic for the business. Short term loss of motivation can lead to long-term productivity issues, and companies with higher levels of employee engagement are proven to be 22% more profitable. You may think temporary lapses will have only temporary effects, but that isn’t always true.

Beware the knock-on effect

A lack of motivation can be contagious - once one employee starts slowing down, the entire team will likely follow suit. This means that ensuring everyone has something they can be doing is important so that dissatisfaction doesn’t spread from one quiet area of your business.

Inertia breeds inertia

There is a danger that, if you allow your employees to relax too much during slow periods, it will be much harder to motivate them again when things start picking up again. Your team will get into a rut that will be difficult to drag them back out of. Keeping employees busy, even if it’s not for productive activities, will ensure they stay at the pace you need from them.

Boredom leads to dissatisfaction and disinterest

For a team to work efficiently, it needs to be happy and enthusiastic about the work it’s doing. When you allow your team too much leeway in slow times at work, the hours will drag and boredom will settle in. This will ultimately lead to your team being generally disinterested about their work, even on the days when it’s busier.

How to encourage the team to stay motivated

It’s a good idea to have some strategies in place to tackle demotivation when it inevitably sets in. As a leader, your team looks to you for inspiration. In fact, studies show that employee engagement is primarily driven by their belief in senior leadership. Try implementing some of these ideas next time things slow down at work, and you’ll be amazed by the change in your team.

Touch base

Use the time to check with the team as a whole. Touch base on your current overall strategy. Spend some time brainstorming new strategies. Listen to any concerns or questions your team may have. It may be rare that you all get to sit down together and talk, so use the time to reconvene and reassess your plans going forward.

One-to-one check-ins

39% of workers do not feel they are appreciated at work. As well as realigning your team as a group, you should ensure time is given to individuals as well. Use some of the downtime to meet with each of your team members for a casual chat.

This will give them the opportunity to voice private concerns, and you will get the chance to give feedback in an appropriate setting. Taking the time to meet with your team members individually will signal your appreciation for each and every one of them.

Make time for training

23% of employees believe that training and development opportunities would improve their overall motivation. This is hardly surprising. It’s hard to stay motivated at work with no tangible prospects for career progression. If you predict a period of down time in the foreseeable future, plan a training day and invite your employees. Alternatively, if there are individuals who will be busy, consider training courses they could attend or complete. They may even want to shadow someone from another area of the business to get a better idea of how the organisation works.

Get out of the office

Most office workers spend 40 hours or more inside the same building. The monotonous surroundings can become dull and draining, leading to a loss of creativity and inspiration. Just getting out of there for a short time can be invigorating!

Treat your team to a nice lunch out of the office or just suggest a short walk around the block—exercise is excellent for employee wellness. You’ll all come back feeling refreshed and enthusiastic about getting back to work, and a change of scenery may even spark some new ideas.

Have a little fun

If there really is nothing going on, don’t be afraid to admit it! Use the time for some light-hearted fun that can help your team to bond. Try an impromptu employee awards ceremony, or a work-related employee quiz. Any fun team games will help your employees work on their communication and teamwork skills while still feeling like they’re letting off steam. Rewarding good performance in these games with light-hearted awards can be a great way to show recognition as well.

Make use of downtime for intangible benefits

Employee engagement is one of the cornerstones of a profitable, successful business. Engaged employees are more likely to meet their targets and exceed expectations. Use slow periods at work to check-in with your team, reward their hard work, and encourage them to continue working in a proactive and enthusiastic manner.

You may not be able to directly link the time spend on these activities to sales and profits, but there will be longer-term benefits to communicating and enjoying yourselves. Remember, as a manger you are your employees’ primary source of motivation. If you set the right tone, your enthusiasm and innovation will be contagious.