How To Build Employee Morale In Tough Times

If you find yourself tensing when there’s a knock on the door, postponing meetings with employees, or thinking of credible ways to feign illness to avoid the office altogether, something’s wrong.

When things aren’t going so well with your business, you have to take the bull by the horns and deliver the bad news to your employees.  However, the good news is that it’s not all bad news.  It’s also all about building morale and helping the whole team turn things around.

Here’s how to bring out the best  in your employees when business isn’t so good and not only boost the bottom line but also boost employee morale. 

1. Active Office

If you’re so upset you can’t sit still, don’t.  Take your employees to the gym–or, heack, set up some sort of exercise space in the gym.  An obstacle course could suffice–be sure to create teams and create prizes for the winner.  This will activate adrenaline, serotonin, and oxytocin, putting your team in the right mindset.

2. Be Creative

Creativity inspires, builds emotional commitment, and can promote optimism when business isn’t so good.

Creativity exercises involve conversations, which are likely to have more brand impact than marketing campaigns. There’s also creative art.   Have your team members take notes with markers, have them sketch out ideas, create vision boards, and redefine your company culture.

Employee engagement is key, and creative types of engagement are the best kinds at times when morale is low.  While creativity is important at all times, it’s your best tool when times are hard, since its morale-building effects are nearly certain.

3. Be Consistent 

Consistency and the trust it builds is very important for potential tough times.  Sticking to your guns, following through with certain core principles is crucial.  It’s true that you will have to adjust to tough circumstances, and some of the creativity measures mentioned above are new and different.  But that doesn’t constitute coming across as wishy-washy or susceptible to panic.

4. Be Social

Encourage your team members to collaborate with you in networking, community, or charity events.  One of the greatest facets of running a business is the opportunity lead and encourage others to tap into their full potential and maximize their performance.  One of the character growth components of this is that it causes you to put your employees, and customers’ needs over your own by truly getting to know them.

5. Simplify

Overthinking and introducing complications, more procedures, etc. , in the face of bad business will only frustrate employees.  Simplicity can be defined as smarter streamlined innovation, collaboration.

6. Encourage Learning

As with creativity, encouraging learning amounts to trying to take active steps to get out of trouble.  It’s not about waiting for the market to change or hoping for better luck.  While some of the gains your organization will make from new skills or abilities your employees take on might be tangential, the effort itself is an end unto itself and will have effects on morale. 

Always remember the most successful leaders build a competitive, creative, social environment where credibility thrives.   Leadership means understanding how to cope with hard times as well as smooth sailing.


  1. Dwight E says

    Great post! I agree with the point of being sociable, some of our neighbors before they moved out I would bring food, doughnuts to just to be sociable and remind them that I liked them. If I had business that would help them, I would send it their way. Just being a nice guy means a lot to so many people.

  2. says

    This is a timely post… But sometimes it can be hard to lead when you are going through a rough patch. How does the business owner get strength and inspiration in order to lead?

  3. says


    Thanks for the compliments on the post, it is greatly appreciated. Being a people person and building relationships is the most important detail for small businesses, and often the one detail that is overlooked. Thanks for sharing your experience. Looking forward to engaging in further conversation and getting to know you better.


  4. says

    Thanks for the great question. It can be overwhelming and incredibly difficult for business owners to have the inspiration and courage to change. The one piece of advice I would give you is to ask “What if” VS. “Why not.” By changing your mindset you can change your results. Its important to have fear of regret rather than fear of failure. Inspiration can come from the places least expected, a neighbor, a colleague, a friend, a parent, a child, or motivational videos, books, CD’s or live events from Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Jim Rohn, Les Brown, Jim Lutes, Dr. BreakThrough, Myself (Melissa Krivachek) or others.

    I can relate to being in a position of fear, frustration, and anger, not having money to invest in the business. One of my greatest assets is using the resources I do have to be resourceful because if you can solve a problem with a checkbook you really don’t have a problem to begin with. I would invite you to connect with me personally and we could talk more about the temporary challenges you may be facing, and how you can overcome your obstacles and become your best-self and have a company, brand, product/service you can be incredibly proud of, and passionate about. My contact information can be found in the author bio or send me an email at
    Warm Regards,

  5. Opata Olende says

    I love this article because I believe that focusing on bringing the best out of your team really is the key to success in small business (and large business).

    Great insights!

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