How do I motivate my team now they are back to work?

Published: 23rd June 2020

In my first blog during lockdown I shared some tools to better equip you to manage and motivate your teams whilst working remotely.  As we are easing lockdown and more businesses reopen it struck me as to how management teams might experience challenges motivating teams as they return to work.  The new normal these past few months our teams adapted to, maybe actually appreciated working from home, spending time with family, not being in a customer facing role?


Whilst change is not always easy, our teams have found themselves adjusting and with the uniqueness of individuals some will be excited to get back to seeing colleagues, customers, being part of the business and others will be scared, worried and not relishing the thought of being out interacting with more people who could put them at risk of the virus?


So how do you motivate teams now they are back to work?


We are all motivated in different ways, however our Basic Needs have been impacted recently with salary reductions, feeling unsafe, so for management teams it is critical to go back to Basics with Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, providing security and safety with processes for teams to follow along with customers, providing equipment to protect against the virus and providing additional rest breaks to wash hands more frequently, rotating the most customer interacting roles between team members to feel a sense of support and understanding.



Many people will be Psychologically impacted by the Covid19 virus, mental health has been well documented as having a greater impact on people whilst isolated.  Therefore managers will need to spend time building their sense of belonging and potentially offering support to those who have been suffering with anxiety, much of this goes back to conversations with team members, both as a team and on one to one, it is key to listen to how people feel and where possible offer expert support, be it helpline using an Employee Assistance programme that could offer counselling, debt advice and relationship support.  However, you as manager have a responsibility to talk, listen and offer options to help your team members work within a safe environment.


I would recommend daily briefings, being more visible in the office or on the “shop floor” hosting an “open question & answer lunchtime session”.  Time is a valuable commodity and as leaders and managers you will need to focus more of your time on your teams.  Re-training is a must to build confidence back of those who have been furloughed for 3 months and whether its new procedures or a refresh on basic operations, do not judge people if they have forgotten some things, 3 months away from a job is a long time, show support and coaching to build to Esteem needs.


Recognition is a great motivational tool and this could be the opportunity to continue to build the sense of accomplishment of team members.  Think creatively about recognition, allow team members to maybe nominate a team member of the week, who has supported them during their return?


If in retail recognition for add on sales at till point, creative merchandising to enable customers to see a product without the need for touching?


It is important we know our teams and understand all may have been impacted differently and go back to basics to support and motivate as businesses get back to the new normal.



Image 1 – Maslow’s hierarchy of need Abraham Maslow

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