Workplace blogs
Workplace blogs

Motivating Employees During Difficult Times

While doing another T.V. interview on “motivating employees during tough times” and “using humour in the workplace to boost morale”, I was asked if there are too many media stories about what people need to do to keep their jobs during these difficult times.

My response was something along the lines of: “As soon as the media starts asking the old are-we-beating-this-issue-to-death question then there’s probably a good chance that, yes, indeed, we’ve probably crossed some tipping point.

Here’s a nutshell of some of the other comments I’ve been saying in recent interviews:

– “Hello. It’s nice to be here.” (I’m a polite interviewee.)

– “Humor  in the workplace is needed now more than ever for a whole raft of reasons. Humor can lift morale, even if just temporarily, stamp out stress, and improve communication and even trust in the workplace.”

– “Humor during tough times can give teams a sense of unity, a sense of “we’re all in this together” -ness.”

– “The slowdown in the economy is a chance for the great organizations to become even greater by focusing more than ever on their core values and on offering great customer service.”

– “There are still many success stories out there, that the mainstream media doesn’t pick up on. Pick up a copy of Inc. or Fast Company magazine and folks might feel a little less discouraged.”

– “We need to keep some perspective: I know there are a lot of people and organizations hurting out there, but for some organizations, especially in my home province of Alberta where we’ve seen a wild, wild, west mentality over the last few years, the “slowdown” is really just a return to “normal speed” before the boom.”

– “Black humor is on the rise, as one would expect. Like seasoning, a dash of black humor in the workplace can help, but add too much and you threaten to poison the entire workplace stew.”

– “Workplaces need to celebrate now more than ever. Not in outlandishly extravagant ways, but they do need to celebrate, even if the celebrations are a little more low-key, and the milestones a little less grand.”

– “Motivating employees during tough times involves pretty much the same things it does during the good times, only you need to communicate perhaps even more so. An inspiring vision, modeling core values, treating people with respect and dignity, building trust, showing appreciation and recognition, celebrating successes and giving people a chance to do meaningful work that makes the best use of their talents are still the hallmarks of a highly-motivated workplace.”

– “Those workplaces that don’t panic and keep their eye on the long term picture will be the ones that survive and will be ready when the economy picks back up.

– “Finally, at both an individual and company level, it’s not enough to be good, or to be “the best.” You’ve also got to be different if you are going to stand out from the herd and be heard when the going gets tough.”

Which is why “survival of the funniest” might not be a bad slogan to help us navigate through these challenging times.

Michael Kerr,


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