"Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally stale." - Vincent Lombardi

In the midst of this recession in our country, company sales are down, layoffs are eminent, job security is dictated by numbers, and the remaining staff is overworked, overwhelmed, just trying to keep things going. And to top it off employee morale is at an all time low.

So, how do you keep employee morale up in a down economy?

Getting and keeping clients happy right now is always a number one concern, but what are you doing to make sure your employees are happy and productive? Your team members want to know two things: they want to know they matter, and they want to know, (and feel), they are making a contribution. If you, as a team leader, are grumpy, resigned, and basically on auto pilot and not paying attention, then what kind of message are you sending?

Now is the time for you to be having conversations to find out what excites and motivates them, what keeps them going. Because if you don't, you could lose your key people and that is definitely not something you want happening in any type of economy. Plus keep in mind that businesses thrive on building and keeping win-win relationships, customers, and employees.

You can have all the incentive plans in the world in place in your business, but if you don't know what makes your staff tick, you are dead in the water. If you want to know what it takes to keep them happy campers, then you are going to have to ask them.

There are three kinds of motivators: money, time, and recognition. Which one puts a smile on your team's face?

Here are 2 basic steps to keeping your employees from going mentally 'stale' and unproductive:

1. Ask questions and be willing to listen to their answers. Keep in mind you are building trust with your employees. If you have valuable employees, you want to do your part to keep them happy, productive, and working as a cohesive team. Remember it costs more to hire and train new employees than to retain the great ones you already have in your business.

2. Be willing to make the changes necessary to create a happy, productive, positive environment for your employees. I'm not just talking about buying coffee and donuts for the team every Friday here. You need to know each individual's particular personality and what they need to hear or get from you - basically which one of the 3 motivators I mentioned above that gets their creative juices flowing.

You've heard the saying, "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Well, the same is true for your team. They are the foundation that keeps your company viable through thick and thin. And when it is all said and done, by knowing the motivators that keep your team satisfied, you will create more sustainable results and greater success in your business in every economic condition.

Author's Bio: 

Cookie Tuminello, ‘THE Team Builder of the South,’ has been empowering CEO’s, managers, business owners, and team members and igniting productivity since 1999. To find out more about this sassy, savvy and successful coach, get her FREE Report “50 Ways To Go From Overwhelmed To Empowered” and receive FREE weekly success tips, visit www.cookietuminello.com