How to motivate your staff in trying times

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Lisbeth Calandrino

It’s hard to stay motivated when you have problems you’re not acknowledging. Many of your employees who may seem fine on the surface are walking around with underlying fears and concerns they are not disclosing. When people are feeling this way, they have less energy for getting work done and staying motivated.

Even though your business may be flourishing, and you’re feeling safe, you can’t help but notice there are others who are not so lucky. It’s likely you and your staff are wondering how and when this influences our lives and our businesses.

If you’re feeling uncomfortable, it’s not unusual; living under these types of conditions can cause underlying anxiety even for people who are generally not fearful. On the other hand, if you’ve been confined during the last four months and are now venturing outside into more togetherness, you may see the world in a new and somewhat frightening way. Even people who have been going to work during the pandemic are feeling uneasy being around others and wondering if they are following safe protocols. If you’re relying on your employees to consistently go out and meet with others, you can understand why they are feeling concerned.

My friend who works as a flooring salesperson told me he had reservations going into customers’ homes during the pandemic. He has noticed that not everyone is keeping a safe distance, and that makes him concerned about his own well-being. I’m sure he is not alone. Talk with your employees about their concerns going into customer’s houses and meeting shoppers in the showroom. They may have people at home with underlying conditions, and they’re afraid of bringing the coronavirus home.

The good news is we are a resilient race, and we will get through this. In the meantime, it’s wise to acknowledge what is happening. Discuss how people are feeling and their concerns. If your employees have children, they may be having child care issues or problems with kids in college. Several of our local colleges have expelled students who are disobeying the safety protocols, and rightly so.

Talk with your employees about their issues of child care and how they are handling school. My friend’s son is going to school part-time and taking the rest of his classes online. The uncertainty of his schedule is making it difficult for her to go to work and manage her flooring business.

Another friend who owns a flooring store has an elderly parent living with her who has been having emotional issues during the pandemic, and she has had to spend more time at home. Business has been good, but she is having trouble managing.

Find out what concerns your employees have about their family. I suggest you discuss financial issues individually with your staff. Has anything changed for them during the pandemic?

Lastly, find ways to recognize and acknowledge your employees and yourself during these times. Recognize their job performance and resiliency during this difficult period. Sometimes we spend so much energy dealing with problems and “what might happen” that we forget the great job we are doing. This is the time for leaders to lead with more compassion and empathy so employees feel safe and cared for.


Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at [email protected]

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