By Rieva Lesonsky

If your employees are like most these days, in the past 12 months they’ve probably been faced with more work, fewer perks, and lower pay than they enjoyed this time last year. How can you keep them motivated despite these challenges?

Communication is key. But although you might think that entrepreneurs naturally do great at keeping the channels of communication flowing, that’s often not true. Yes, their companies are small and have fewer layers of management—but that also means everyone (including the boss) is spread thin, and you can often run out of time to keep people in the loop.

Still, it’s essential to make communication a priority. There are many ways to go. You can hold regular staff meetings, send out email updates, or just walk around and talk to your people on a daily basis. This last method works best for many business owners, because it lets you get in one-on-one time with your workers.

These days, a bit of appreciation goes a long way. It only takes a moment to let someone know you recognize a job well done. Whether you stop by their desk, shoot them an email or write a brief note, recognition will go far toward building employee loyalty—something you’ll need when the recovery gets underway.