- It’s easy for your employees to lose morale during this pandemic.
- Always communicate honestly, celebrate people and small wins, and inject a bit of fun.
- Spruce up your office, be flexible and keep bringing your team back to your goals.
Editor's update 09/07/20:
Does employee morale affect performance? Employee morale can be described as the overall attitude and satisfaction that employees have towards their workplace. There is a strong link between morale and the levels of productivity and performance. When people are unhappy and unsatisfied with their workplace and lack motivation, it often leads to bad performance and workplace tensions.
If you're currently encouraging your team to work from home, you'll know that nothing is more important than keeping your staff happy and productive, right? The last thing you'll want to happen is team members feeling unheard, isolated, and alone.
But why is keeping up morale so important anyway? Does it really affect the way we work?
Why is morale important in the workplace?
According to Christine Comaford, business leaders need to embrace employee motivation as part of their overall business strategy – something that should've been happening pre-coronavirus. However, I understand this can be difficult when you're all connected via a screen and working remotely.
As someone who works in and understands human resources, it's incredibly important to keep morale strong and your culture thriving – even more so as we ride the COVID-19 wave.
But how can you keep staff motivated during these uncertain times? Is it even possible? Along with the office change up, I understand that many businesses have also been hit financially and are having to operate a little differently, but that doesn't mean maintaining high morale should fall by the wayside.
Here are some of my top HR hacks that I use at Catalina Consultants to keep up engagement and how you can do it without having to spend too much.
HR hack #1: Always over-communicate
This one is a bit of a misnomer – I don’t think there’s any such thing as over-communicating. But it’s important you do it an open and transparent way. Don’t mask what you’re trying to say by explaining things in euphemisms or cryptic language as you won’t be making people happier at all.
Furthermore, when there's a lack of face-to-face contact and everyone is talking to each other virtually, some communication can be misinterpreted, so it's important to be mindful of this. Be clear, concise and go straight to the point with all communication.
And, whatever you do, don't stay silent. It's important to keep building and maintaining relationships even whilst working from home. Given those feelings of isolation can slowly start to creep in for team members, it’s better to speak too often than not enough.
HR hack #2: Bring those celebrations in-house
Most employers and managers know the value of a good staff function – allowing teams to not always be in 'work mode' helps build meaningful relationships and gives everyone the opportunity to relax. Think about it, those Friday night drinks – when we were allowed to gather – served a purpose, so do end-of-financial-year lunches, birthday celebrations and the annual Christmas party.
Giving people the chance to let off steam and mingle with workmates informally is one of the most important things to do when it comes to boosting morale. So, if you’re looking to save money, but still want to keep your team connected, why not virtualise your functions for the time being?
A BYO cup of tea and cake for someone's birthday, a casual sandwich together over a virtual lunch or DIY after-work drinks (have you tried a quarantini yet?) via Zoom costs nothing and will keep everyone connected and provide the opportunity to socialise.
HR hack #3: Keep communication lines casual
Few things sap morale more than the overuse of formality. And, I think that’s just what’s happened when we rely too much upon communicating via email. When used for the wrong purpose, emails can come across as too formal and cold, potentially increasing stress and decreasing productivity.
It can also kill creativity, spontaneity and leads to people spending far too much time coming up with the 'perfect response'. As someone that works with people daily, I can think of many occasions where things are communicated better face-to-face.
However, as we know this isn't possible due to social distancing and remote working. Use chat software, jump on a casual video call, or simply pick up the phone. Leave email only for when you need it – such as communicating with clients and keeping a record of conservations or documents.
HR hack #4: Encourage people to take breaks
Often when employees get worried, some will work even harder, pouring all their nervous energy into tasks. Now, extra effort is no bad thing, but if employees are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, say goodbye to productivity and producing great work.
One of the ways to immediately improve morale is to insist employees take a daily break. Make sure they have that full hour for lunch, give them the opportunity to stop staring at a screen and stretch their legs or encourage a quick workout in the middle of the day. Even let team members sign off early if they’ve finished what they need to do so they can spend time with their family.
None of this will cost you too much, but I can assure you, giving a chance for people to step away from their desks every day will certainly increase morale.
HR hack #5: Think about the office setup
Data shows employee morale and productivity can both get a serious lift from a well-designed office. That doesn’t mean going out and hiring an interior designer and installing nap pods and a designer fish tank. It could be simply a matter of re-arranging the desks, bringing down or putting up partitions, creating break-out spaces or even using adjustable desks.
None of these ideas needs to cost much but a different aspect, view or flow can help lift people’s moods. This may not apply to everyone right now – if you're currently asking your staff to work from home, let them take home their office chairs, stand up desks and monitors so they can create a comfortable working environment from home.
HR hack #6: Keep setting goals and objectives
When we're all working from home, we can start to feel a bit disconnected from our team members and motivation will decline as we start to lose sight of what we're trying to achieve.
Therefore, it's imperative to keep everyone on track to not only meet their personal goals and objectives, but those of the business as well. Ensure you run regular check-ins and one-to-ones with team members to discuss these goals and objectives as well as their tasks for the week.
HR hack #7: Let people work from home if they need to
Remote working has become a necessity for many businesses during the coronavirus crisis, but not all. If you have an employee requesting some time to work from home, it's worth being flexible and giving them the opportunity.
Remember, people's lives have been turned upside down, with some children not attending school and partners potentially losing their jobs or being stood down. Just be sure you do it the right way – ensure all tools are in place so you can make it work and that it doesn't impact the business too much. Set ground rules, check-in regularly and keep the lines of communication open and consistent.
HR hack #8: When in doubt, have a little bit of fun
Living by the mantra 'all work, no play'? I don't think so.
Yes, there are times to be serious at work, but not every waking second – it's important to bring a sense of amusement into the workplace from time to time. And, it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.
There have been studies undertaken over the last two decades that show workplaces that bring a sense of fun to the table leads to increased employee satisfaction and happiness. It gives people a chance to relax, open up and be themselves.
What are some fun things you can be doing? Consider running imaginative brainstorming sessions, take time out in the day to celebrate individual and team wins and allow people to run meetings in their own creative way. This can all happen virtually too – why not host a pub trivia over Zoom one afternoon or embrace your inner-nanna with a virtual Bingo night?
It's important to foster a sense of fun amongst teams and encourage creativity in the workplace, especially during these uncertain times.
Maintaining positive workplace vibes
Right now, we're in unknown territory and to be honest, we don't know for how long. Therefore, it's crucial for business owners and managers to prioritise workplace morale. I implore you, keep producing strategies and ideas to ensure teams remain happy, productive, and engaged – especially when people are having to work virtually.
Being alone can be an isolating experience. And, as you can see, keeping your employees motivated doesn’t always have to be an expensive exercise. In fact, for many of these eight ideas, you'll barely have to spend anything at all.
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