Common questions on boosting employee morale in uncertain times
Mona and Maddie from our people team answer 10 common questions that business leaders and HR are facing during this incertain time, from how to boost employee wellness and morale, to maintaining a great company culture.
Question 1. How do you include everyone in your workforce?
I’ve got a mix of tech-savvy and not so tech-savvy employees who aren’t connected through email, Zoom, etc., as well as a mix of ages and physical abilities.
To make people feel included, you need to reach them. If your employees aren’t connected through email or video calls, the only methods at your disposal might be telephone and post.
At the very least, you need to communicate business and coronavirus related updates to everyone. And you can do this over a company-wide conference call or by sending a simple letter. You should also try to wow employees when you reach them. Sending a care package customised to their personal situation or a ‘Thinking of you’ postcard will make a huge difference to their morale.
It’s paramount to remember that when you’re dealing with a mix of ages and physical abilities, you won’t find a one-size-fits-all activity. We recommend setting one objective and then have multiple ways for people to get involved.
For example, if you want your employees to stay connected, you can have various activities with the same goal in mind:
- Burpee challenge: Employees record themselves performing their burpees and share the video on your instant messaging service
- Team running or step challenges: Set a target for your runners to meet each week and have them share the results
- What/who I’m grateful for this morning: Randomly ask one or two people each morning to answer the question and share it across the company
- Virtual water coolers: These are virtual spaces where individuals looking for a break can join over video call and see who’s there – a great way to get to know new people!
- We’ve Got Talent: Why not take the opportunity to learn about your colleagues and enjoy their talents – this could be anything from poetry to painting and singing to dancing
Q2. How do we keep workers on forced unpaid leave engaged and our company culture alive?
Just because they are temporarily out of the day to day running of the business, they are still your employees and you should continue to engage them like every other employee. Make sure you update them on business development, include them in fun social activities and be available for them should they have any questions.
Given that these employees will now have more time on their hands, it might make sense to use this opportunity for training. Offer free online resources or suggest areas they can upskill so that when they return they are bringing something extra to the table. This will benefit themselves, the business and help keep them motivated by giving them purpose while on leave.
Q3. What are your tips for engaging the ‘quiet ones’?
We’re doing lots of social activities digitally for our employees, but there are ones who consistently don’t attend. I don’t want them to feel isolated.
Some people won’t want to engage in social activities. Even prior to coronavirus, I’m sure you had some individuals who never attended them as well. It’s not a bad thing, some people prefer it that way.
Times are different now and they might be more open to activities you plan. Ask them for their recommendations on how to engage people at work as they’ll most likely suggest ideas which appeal to them. They’re then much more likely to get involved with those activities.
Q4. What ideas do you have to motivate employees who can't work from home?
I have some staff members who feel that they’re being treated differently to others who can.
This is extremely difficult. I’ll assume that these employees are critical to the running of your business, and if so, you need to make them feel as safe as possible. Examples of this might include:
- Allow them to travel to work outside of peak hours if possible
- Provide guidance on how to self-distance at work
- Provide them with Personal Protective Equipment if possible
You also need to recognise and thank them for their efforts privately and publicly. Explain to the rest of the organisation the impact that these workers are having on the business. You could even surprise them with messages, emails or video recordings from the rest of the staff thanking them for keeping the business going.
Q5. How do you think people will react to being in a busy workplace environment when we can all return?
I’d also like to know how managers can keep those employees motivated as my worry is people will get ‘first-day anxiety’!
Most people will likely love being back at work with their colleagues, even introverts might appreciate the physical environment in a new way.
The biggest challenge might come if flexible working and working from home requests are denied to your employees. We’re now in the biggest remote working experiment and with so many people forced to do it, employees are starting to see they don’t need to be in the office every day.
In an effort to motivate employees, managers and organisations will have no choice but to be more flexible. We’d recommend reviewing your flexible/remote working policies now so that they’re ready to go when we’re all back in the workplace.
Q6. How do you set the expectation that just because someone is working remotely doesn’t mean they’re accessible at all hours?
Create a routine and stick to your working hours, making sure you’re online during that time so your manager and team can get in touch if they need you. Start and stop working at defined times and follow your normal work routine. If you usually get into work at 9am, don't log on until 9am. If you usually leave at 6pm, log off at 6pm.
It’s also a good idea to use your calendar or instant messaging status to show colleagues if you’re available or not. We all have to work harder to collaborate and work together right now, so if you’re busy on a call then make sure you’re transparent and block out the time in your calendar.
Remember, this works both ways. If you want to keep your work correspondence during work hours only, you should only contact colleagues about work during those hours too.
Q7. What’s the best way to support employees who need to home-school their children?
We’ve got a lot of team members who are trying to balance home-schooling their children and working demanding full-time roles.
Organisations need to be understanding about this. Remember, parents won’t have much choice at this time so don’t make them feel guilty about needing the flexibility to help their children.
They’ll likely need time throughout the day to provide their kids with instructions and help them with their studies. The more support you provide them, the more loyalty you’re building with that employee. Additionally, this is not the time to frown at children in the background of any video calls!
Q8. How do you inspire managers to boost team morale when they’re busy and say they don't have time?
If you look around your organisation, you’ll see that the managers who are focusing on their people are also those with the most engaged and productive teams.
Remind managers that a big part of their role is engaging their teams and really hold them accountable. If you have a survey tool, make sure to read and interpret the results often – even on a daily basis.
Share the results with your managers and highlight the feedback which relates to morale. And share the great things other managers are doing too! Sometimes a little bit of competitiveness goes a long way...
Q9. How would you recommend checking in on people’s wellbeing when they say there’s no support?
We want to help all of our people and see that a lot of us are experiencing increased anxiety during this time.
It really depends on the severity of the situation. It’s probably quite common now for employees to be feeling anxious, some may be under stress about family, working from home or the general coronavirus situation. In most cases, listening to them and being supportive will go a long way.
For others, the situation may be more severe. It’s important to remember that we’re not health experts. If you’ve done your best to support them and still don’t see an improvement, utilise your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and refer your employees to it.
If you don’t have an EAP, encourage employees to talk to their GP or refer them to specialised charities equipped and trained to provide specialised support.
Q10. What's the best thing you've learned since the arrival of coronavirus, either individually or as a company?
It’s definitely been a reminder of how adaptable we are as a race. In a matter of days, all of us needed to change the way we did things. Employees have risen up to the challenge and in most cases have surprised everyone and themselves what they can accomplish with limited resources.
Light has also been shone on the generosity of people and in an ironic way, this situation has brought the entire world closer together. We’re now speaking to neighbours for the first time, helping strangers in need, reconnecting with old friends and distant relatives!