How to boost employee morale when sales are down

When I first purchased MyCorporation from its previous owner, I realized I had some serious work to do to boost employee morale. No one seemed particularly cheery, and lacked work ethic. Thankfully, buying the company brought a great opportunity for change. Luckily I had been working as a MyCorp employee prior to making the move to buy. I knew my employees personally, and so I knew what needed to happen to improve. With this in mind, I began to completely change how things were run to try and amp up employee morale and keep everyone positive.

boost employee morale

Through this I quickly discovered that it’s a whole lot easier to keep employees happy when sales are up. In fact, it’s almost effortless to keep the team pumped up when sales are through the roof – the sales team is happy for the extra commission, and everyone else is happy the business is making money.

However, when sales slumped, I had to work hard to generate that same enthusiasm, though thankfully I eventually figured out how to do just that. So the next time your team is feeling a little down in the dumps due to numbers, try using one of these four ideas that I implemented to boost employee morale!

Offer incentives.

Reward smaller victories, like someone doing an awesome job at a big presentation they’d been prepping for, with little gifts. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, but small tokens of appreciation let your employees know that you’re noticing the effort they put in. It’s a nice way to say “Keep up the great work – it doesn’t go unnoticed!” Even something as small as a Starbucks gift card or a lottery ticket is a nice little treat to make a day feel special. When employees feel appreciated, they feel like their work has meaning.

1. Don’t hide the numbers.

There are some businesses owners that like to share everything with their employees (including other employees’ salaries), and then there are some small business owners that keep the details of their business pretty much to themselves. I fall somewhere in the middle, in that I think being up front with your employees about how you’re doing financially is important. Even if numbers are low, I always practice an open policy with my employees.

employee morale

I think it’s great if my employees want to know how the business is doing, and I feel everyone should be on the same page when it comes to where we are with sales. So each month we hang a large thermometer on our front wall, and we color it in as we get closer and closer to our sales goal for the month – numbers and all on display. If you don’t want to be quite so open with your numbers you could do something similar with a vague representation of success, like percentages. Either way, displaying your progress and tracking it through the month as a team is a great way to get your employees excited about your business’s progress.

2. Celebrate the team accomplishments.

Though offering individual incentive is a great way to motivate employees separately, when it comes to small business, it’s important to keep the “big picture” in mind. We can get distracted by focusing on our own tasks, forgetting that we are all individual cogs working inside and for a larger machine. You don’t have to reward the team just when hitting a sales goal. You can reward the team for practicing a strong sense of teamwork, or contributing to a positive work environment.

Team celebrations

If you have a week where it just seems everyone is working hard and keeping a great attitude, despite sales being down, let your team know you notice. I like to bring in bagels or doughnuts at the end of the week when I feel like we’re all really clicking.

3. While you’re at it, celebrate whenever you get the chance!

One of the best ways to boost employee morale year-round is to celebrate the little things. In our office we celebrate anniversaries, baby showers, birthdays, graduations, holidays… you name it and we’re probably eating cupcakes in honor of it. There are not too many weeks out of the year where we’re not celebrating something, or at least enjoying leftovers from the last celebration.


Some business owners worry that excess can lead to a distracted work ethic, but I’ve found that it keeps my team happy and motivated to come to work, no matter what our numbers look like. Work is work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop and enjoy yourself every now and then and stay professional.

Photo credit: akaitoriMrHicks46, ,joncandy

Deb Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

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