Recent events have left companies scrambling to boost employee morale. Struggles with technology, balancing work and home life, fear and anxiety and social distancing measures are just some of the factors employees now face. These are situations that are unique to this time in history. As a result, 65 percent of employers say maintaining employee morale has been a problem during COVID-19. (1)
Fortunately, there are six steps that organizations can follow to improve the morale of their staff.
- Provide Health and Wellness Resources
One of the biggest fallouts of difficult times is the deterioration of health and well-being. Telltale signs that employees are struggling with their physical, mental or emotional health include a negative attitude, incessant complaining, the emergence of a toxic culture, resistance to work as a team and a “lone ranger” mentality.
Providing resources to help employees improve their health and wellness is easier than one might assume. There are plenty of complimentary resources available online due to the mental and emotional repercussions of the pandemic. It may take a bit of time to locate and organize them for distribution, but the investment is worthwhile. Why? It will pay off with employees who are engaged, productive and motivated to perform well.
- Celebrate Successes
The absence of recognition for employees who excel in their work in some way can lead to missed deadlines, an increase in mistakes, a rise in customer complaints, declining service levels, quality control issues, lagging response times to inquiries, flimsy excuses for shoddy work, a general feeling of anxiety and blame games.
Disturbingly, 42 percent of employees said they get less recognition when working from home. (2)
Companies can avoid this scenario by fostering environments that motivate employees to solve problems creatively, demonstrate leadership actively and set positive examples for their peers. Effective ways of creating this type of positive corporate culture include setting goals, holding one-on-one meetings (in person or virtually) to see how people are doing and checking in with employees to find out how they feel their skills are best leveraged in the present circumstances.
- Offer Flexible Work Arrangements
Giving employees a bit of leeway in their work arrangements and schedule goes a long way in helping them remain refreshed, energized and ready to devote themselves to the job. 32 percent of remote workers indicate that the biggest benefit is a flexible schedule and 26 percent indicate it is the ability to work from anywhere. (3)
Options include working four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days, working around obligations they may have such as home schooling their children and advancing vacation time to allow them to take “mental health days.”
Uncovering signs of employee burnout may take a bit of effort, as opposed to stumbling on it by accident. Leadership should pay extra attention to employees who act as caretakers, who have certain health concerns and who appear overwhelmed in any way. Examples of the latter include a haggard appearance and a sudden decline in work performance.
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Employees must feel that leadership is approachable, transparent and values the contributions that employees make. Yes, leadership should display strength and confidence in the company’s direction, but at the same time, they must be relatable. It is much easier for people to align themselves with those who can understand and empathize with them.
In addition, clarity about the how the business is faring is reassuring, even if the news is not always ideal. It is human nature to crave knowledge about the current state-of-affairs and what the future may hold.
Rampant gossip and rumors, as well as resentment and division among employees, are all signs that internal communication is faltering.
- Maintain Connections Between Teams
This is especially important in virtual environments, with 20 percent of remote workers struggling with loneliness. (4) When employees cannot share the same physical space, tools that facilitate collaboration, video conferencing, team chats and text messages and project management tools become critical. Daily check-in meetings may also help, although these meetings should never infringe on employees’ personal time. Schedule the meetings during their designated workday, whatever that is. More importantly, make these daily check-ins worthwhile and essential instead of time wasters.
A general sense of distrust, misunderstandings, a lack of communication, a lack of follow-through, psychological harassment (for example, urgent requests that happen late at night) and managerial “spying” (via excessive emails, micromanaging screen recording tools) are all signs of alienation among teams.
- Make Safety a Top Priority
Many people have experienced a natural sense of fear during the pandemic. When employees operate out of fear, they will inevitably falter in their performance and become focused on their anxiety instead of excelling in their work. It can also lead to sharp increases in the rate of employee turnover – which is one of the costliest issues a business can face.
Companies should implement safety precautions to let employees know they are valued and that leadership places their well-being before profits. These precautions include providing masks, making social distancing easier and taking measures to deep clean and sanitize the office. Training employees on how to follow these safety protocols is also helpful. Leadership should be sensitive to concerns employees raise and anticipate concerns they may have.
Leadership should be on the lookout for safety violations, injuries, illness that spreads throughout teams and avoidance of certain employees or managers. However, leadership needs to balance safety with concern about overemphasizing fear and creating fear mongering. This may be a difficult task but leadership should be mindful of their own fears, biases and perspectives when making decisions and not let those influence what is best for the greater office population.
A low staff morale will eventually drag down the entire organization. Making employees feel safe, comfortable, heard and valued is especially important during uncertain times. By following these steps, companies can ensure their business overcomes the obstacles before it.
Uncertain times call for creative thinking. Contact Gavel International to be inspired with solutions that connect and engage your people.
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