During tough economic times it’s natural for employee morale to be low. Maintaining Employee Morale In Difficult Times has a direct impact not only on the individual employees, but also on the company itself, so it’s important to be proactive in keeping morale high. Fortunately, there are many low and no cost ways to help keep employee morale high.

Show appreciation. Employees are more apt to stick with a company through tough times if they feel valued and appreciated. Even if budgets are tight, try to treat an employee or group of employees to lunch or breakfast once in a while to acknowledge the positive work that they’ve done. Or, give people extra time off. It doesn’t cost a company money to make an announcement over the intercom that everyone gets to go home an hour early on a Friday afternoon. Or, if you can’t afford to offer paid time off, make it a point to celebrate holidays at the office—for example, celebrating with pancakes for the staff on Shrove Tuesday. These small gestures, particularly when unexpected, help to please and motivate people.

Be Available for Communication. Don’t lock yourself in your office alone and shut yourself off from your employees. In fact, do just the opposite–make sure your employees know that you are available for communication and are willing to talk about anything that is going on. Try to schedule weekly meetings to keep employees up to date with what is going on with the company–map out a timeline, explain where you are now, and set goals for where you want to be in the future. Do so in a positive way and treat whatever setbacks you are facing as just a minor storm that will pass.

Conduct Employee Surveys. Formulate a survey to send around to employees once a month or once every two months and have them fill out questions about how happy they are working for your company. Have them fill it out anonymously and leave a space on the survey for open employee feedback – a place where each person can offer up their advice on how to improve employee morale and what you, the business owner, can do to help that. Know that no matter what is done, some employees will be disgruntled. Don’t allow a few negative people to bring down the entire company and try to see the positive side of the feedback that you receive.

Employees are the most precious resource and giving some time and thought to maintaining staff morale may be one of the best long-term investments you can make.