“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 29 percent of Americans can work from home” – The Atlantic
While COVID-19 continues to affect people around the world, all we can do is keep our distance and work (if able) to maintain a sense of normalcy. Even if you’re among the 29% of Americans who, thankfully, can still work from the safety of your home, you’re probably still feeling the stress of this pandemic. You might not feel it from a financial standpoint but it’s still having an affect on your health (especially your mental health). If ever there was a time for HR to try and boost morale, it’s here and now.
Communication Still Goes Both Ways: Listening and Empathy
You’ve probably read an article or two by now about managing stress during this challenging time. These tips may be helpful for HR professionals in order to reduce anxiety while staying productive and unified in a now-digital workplace. Employers should pay attention to how they handle their employees’ needs during this fragile time and HR personnel should be at the forefront, trying to boost morale. Both should reflect on how employees are feeling and adjust the workflow and workload accordingly.
Here are some points to keep in mind.
Employees want to feel understood
We’re all going through this together so if you’re a boss, manager, owner or HR professional, make sure to try and relate to what employees are going through during this time. When they feel like you understand the emotions and tribulations they’re experiencing, it will help build trust and loyalty.
Employees want to feel appreciated
Make sure you recognize your employees’ efforts. Working through this pandemic can make it difficult to focus on work tasks and projects so ensure that “good jobs” and “thank yous” are a constant reminder of your appreciation. Even if things are taking longer to get done and people aren’t as productive as they would be under regular circumstances, acknowledge accomplishments.
Employees want to feel a sense of community
Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of something. Use this time to build your corporate culture and shape your work community. When employees feel like they aren’t alone, they’ll be more grateful and supported. This may help keep them motivated to continue to work.
Keeping these in mind even after this pandemic subsides will help your workplace become a more positive, connected place.
How to Boost Morale 101
In the meantime, HR should take the necessary steps to rebuild morale in employees for a boost of encouragement. The use of virtual tools has helped many companies stay connected. But keeping in touch is the first step to true connection. Knowing what’s going on reassures and paves the way for injections of fun and levity to truly boost morale.
1) Regular Check-Ins
If you’re a manager or supervisor who has a group of employees below you, make sure you’re taking the time every day or every other day to check in with them on an individual basis. Ask how they’re handling working from home, about their health, their workload, etc. This small gesture can go a long way. Not only are you checking in with them, it helps them make sure they’re checking in with and taking care of themselves.
2) Flexible Schedules
For some employees, working from home is hard. They may have children who need homeschooling or share a space with someone else who’s also working remotely. Be flexible with hours and work with employees individually to see what times work best for their adjusted schedules and demands. Some may not be able to work a normal 9-to-5 shift. Allow them to choose what will help them ensure their work gets done in the most efficient way.
Stress the importance of taking breaks when working from home. Anxiety and stress levels are through the roof for most people so encourage workers to walk away from the computer, get outside, do some stretching, etc. Breaks are also an opportunity for some of that fun and levity. Encourage them to have a dance break. Send them a funny video to make them laugh.
4) Digital Happy Hour and Other Virtual Events
This goes back to the point of building community within your workplace. If you can, schedule a fun, work-free, virtual meeting to catch up with everyone. You can use this time to get to know each other and create a stronger bond. This could be a happy hour, themed events, or even a webinar of some sort. Some companies are holding weekly discussions of the latest TV and movies they’ve watched or books they’ve read. The key here is that it isn’t about the work, it’s about the people.
5) Helpful Tips in Company Emails
If you’re sending out internal emails to all staff, add bonus bits to the end, like tips for maintaining health and wellness. Offer ideas for how to make working from home more productive. You can try to frame the advice in an amusing way, like using a classic advice-column structure and even encourage questions or address FAQs (preserving anonymity, of course). The more lighthearted and useful the content, the better. Everyone could use some advice on how to make this situation easier.
6) Out-of-Work Challenges and Activities to Keep the Mind Busy
We could all use a break from watching the news and sanitizing our spaces. Fun challenges are a great way to get your mind off things. You can organize these through company emails or other internal communication systems. These challenges can include fitness, cooking, baking, reading, puzzles, crafts, etc. Make it focused on something other than work and devise a prize for the winner. Bonus points if you can get employees to post about the challenge on their social media channels.
There you have it. Some quick ways to help boost morale and keep employees feeling understood, appreciated and a part of a community. These actions may seem minuscule, but can make a great impact in employees’ lives. Some of these activities can provide fodder for a highlight reel or post-crisis celebration. Even for those companies whose teams can’t work remotely (whether they’re on leave or still showing up as part of an essential business), these options to boost morale still largely apply. Many things are going to change forever because of the current crisis. With a little help, you can try and make a happier and more unified team one of them.