Have you been wondering how to improve employee morale during the pandemic?
A recent study conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management said that maintaining employee morale in the face of COVID-19 has become a serious concern for 2/3 of all employers.
And it’s easy to see why.
Parts of the US are seeing new outbreaks, while others are raring to open up. Many employees have had to deal with chronic stress, fear, and grief. And with a second spike for much of the world looming, we might be in for another wallop.
As someone who hires people and manages a team, you’ll know first-hand the ways that low morale can affect your performance.
Here are 8 tips for how to improve employee morale during the pandemic.
Offer unambiguous, consequence-free channels of communication
As in any relationship, communication is key.
When lines of communication shut down, it’s an instant sign of trouble. Problems don’t get communicated, resentments calcify, and people succumb to pessimism and gloom.
Your workers could be facing many problems, including stress at home, dealing with sickness, the loneliness and isolation of social distancing, big workloads, or the fear of being let go.
Let your employees know that you care about what they’re going through. Offer a time and place for them to air their struggles. Encourage constant and consequence-free communication. Let them know that you’ll work with them to help solve their problems.
Restate the employee’s value to the company
In tough economic times, it makes sense that people are worried about job security. Many companies are having to make tough decisions to reduce staff to save the bottom line. Even those who survive the culls won’t feel entirely secure.
Managers of teams and divisions should take every opportunity to communicate a person’s value to the company. This could be done in a bunch of ways:
- Team or department-wide messages: Sometimes a nice email can make all the difference. Take the time to identify areas where your team has done well.
- Personal chats: It can mean a lot for someone’s manager to take them aside and tell them how well they’ve been doing. This can give a great boost in confidence and can help them feel more secure in their job.
- Positive reinforcement: If a member of your team does well, tell them! Everyone wants to know that the work they do is seen and valued.
- Acts of trust: Sometimes, giving people new responsibilities can be the ultimate sign that they’re valued and that the organization wants them around for the long term. If you know your team member is staying, and they’re not overloaded, give them a new task.
Allow flexible working where possible
COVID-19 has made working from home the new normal for many people. With tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and the good ol’ fashioned phone at everyone’s fingertips, working remotely has never been easier. If it’s possible, give your workers the freedom to work from home to help keep them and their loved ones safe.
However, the pendulum can swing too far in one direction. Being couped up at home for weeks on end can have a deleterious effect on someone’s mental health. For many, being away from coworkers and the activity of the workplace can seriously damage their motivation and wellbeing, and feed feelings of isolation and loneliness. If it’s safe, allow people to work in their regular workplace a few days a week. Figure out what balance works for your company and team.
Stress levels are high. And when people are stressed out, they don’t take care of themselves as much as they should. But there are many tools out there to battle the constant stress that COVID-19 is causing.
- Exercise: Exercise is one of the most effective tools for maintaining wellbeing and managing stress. You could encourage a cycle-to-work scheme so that people get a daily dose of necessary exercise. Nudge them to take walks during lunch breaks. Simply getting up from your desk and doing a few stretches can do wonders for your focus and productivity.
- Meditation: Activities like mindfulness meditation have been shown to elevate mood and increase mental health. If someone is working at home, encourage them to take a few minutes out and breathe. If they’re at work, offer them a free space where they can go and sit for a moment of quiet contemplation.
- Healthy eating: Good diet is vital for maintaining your health, both physically and mentally. If you can, offer healthy eating options at your workplace filled with fruits and vegetables.
Celebrate the small stuff
During stressful times, it’s important to recognize small wins. Have financial losses leveled out? Is there talk of hiring new people on the horizon? Did you get a slight bump in your metrics? Did your team come to work motivated and ready to meet the challenges of the day? These are all things worthy of hearty pats on the back.
If you can, help financially
While your organization is probably going through some tough times, small gestures of support to your employees can make a massive difference to their lives and their outlooks. It doesn’t have to be increases in pay, necessarily. Offer a free weekly lunch to your workers. Sign up to a scheme that offers them discounts on gym memberships or at certain retail locations. You never know what small gesture is going to have a big impact.
Take care of yourself
At the end of the day, you can’t help others until you help yourself. Make sure you’re getting all the support you need, whether it’s professionally, physically and mentally. In the same way that you show up for your team every day, make sure to show up for yourself when you need to.
It can be hard to improve employee morale, and how you go about it can make all the difference. For more tips on hiring and management, visit our InfoHub.
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