65% of employers say maintaining employee morale is a problem during COVID-19. Learn how to boost your employees’ morale, engagement and productivity during COVID-19 by addressing their biggest concerns and challenges!
6 Ways to Boost Employee Morale During COVID-19
Keeping employee morale high: A challenge during COVID-19
As cases of COVID-19 increase, so do feelings of doubt and anxiety among workers. With mandated quarantine and remote working policies in place, many employees find that their everyday routines have been flipped upside down.
According to a survey of 2,278 HR professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management, 65% of employers say maintaining employee morale is a problem during COVID-19.
For many employees, this may be their first time working from home for an extended period of time. Even many work-from-home veterans may feel off-balance as they face social distancing during all hours of the day instead of their usual eight or nine.
With the rise of uncertainty and change, some employees might be experiencing bouts of low morale. As an employer, it is important to understand that this is a natural consequence of a global crisis. However, there are a few things that you can do to boost morale among your employees and promote a positive employee experience.
How to improve employee morale during COVID-19?
Here are 6 great ways to boost your employees’ morale during COVID-19:
#1 Celebrate accomplishments and milestones
It is no secret that COVID-19 has created struggles for many companies worldwide. With substantial drops in revenue and fewer sales, many companies are just trying to stay afloat during this pandemic. Given these difficult times, it is important for company leaders to recognize company and employee wins when they occur.
Aim to share business-related wins with your team on a frequent basis, even if they are small. This could include a new sale that was made, a special story or comment from a customer, or a new partnership with another company.
It is important for employees to know that there are still opportunities available and successes to be had during this crisis. This will keep their motivation and spirits high during this time.
Second, consider sharing employee wins with the team. This not only boosts morale, but it also increases a sense of connectivity as people are physically distant.
Employee wins could include someone’s work anniversary, a promotion, or a more personal accomplishment such a recent engagement. Acknowledging some occasional non-work-related news is completely acceptable. Employees are human and have lives outside of their job. Acknowledging other milestones shows that you care about your employees’ personal growth as well as their professional growth.
💡 Check out 20 Awesome Employee Recognition Ideas!
#2 Improve access to resources
In order to maintain a good employee experience, ensure that your employees have the proper resources to do great work. They might now require additional tools to work effectively in a remote environment. For instance, all employees may now require a new video calling software, a VPN, a headset, or a different laptop and monitor setup. Ensuring that they are comfortable in their remote working environment is the first course of action.
Additionally, consider providing your employees with wellness resources during this crisis. It is no secret that stress levels have skyrocketed since the announcement of COVID-19. From worrying about one’s health to worrying about job security, some employees might be feeling overwhelmed at times.
Don’t neglect your employees’ mental health during this pandemic – be sure to provide them with adequate resources so they can acquire support if they need it. Whether that is highlighting and encouraging them to use the benefits that they have available, hosting virtual exercise sessions, or sending them links about stress relief, these are some ways to show that you care during COVID-19.
💡 Check out our Guide for HR Professionals: How to avoid burnout and retain your employees?
#3 Increase flexibility
As barriers between home and work life diminish, some employees may find that their regular 9-5 schedule is impossible to sustain. Some employees might have children that they now have to manage 24/7, while other employees might find themselves caring for a sick loved one. Providing flexibility when it comes to work hours might be helpful.
If some employees need to begin work earlier or need to work in the evening, let this be an option. Additionally, if some employees aren’t as responsive when it comes to answering emails or messages, consider cutting them some slack. We are in the middle of very unusual time.
Experimenting with new working dynamics during this pandemic may prove to be fruitful down the road. According to a survey by Zenefits, 77% of workers highlight flexible work arrangements as a major consideration in their job searches.
If companies can implement flexible work policies now and sustain them beyond the COVID-19 crisis, they might have more success appealing to job candidates and acquiring talent down the road.
Additionally, some employees may find that their vacation plans are now canceled due to travel bans. If employees cannot take their planned vacation time now, allow them to bank it for the future when the crisis is over. Many workers may find that a vacation is very much needed once COVID-19 passes!
💡 Find out what the future of work will look like: Is flexible and remote work here to stay?
#4 Revisit healthcare options
As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase, many have considered how they can maintain good health and keep their loved ones safe. Some employees might be managing young children, some might be caring for a frail parent, and others might have their own health complications that put them in a vulnerable state. For many employees, stress has grown as news of fatalities spread throughout the media.
As a company leader, now might be a good time to revisit existing healthcare programs and consider additional measures that can be taken to protect employees. Are there ways to provide your employees with online counseling services or virtual appointments with healthcare professionals?
If thoughts of illness consume the minds of workers, then it will be challenging for them to remain productive and optimistic during the workweek. Ensure that your employees have access to adequate healthcare resources so they can gain support if they are affected by COVID-19 or another health complication.
If you would like to provide healthcare support for employees, but don’t know where to begin – that is completely fine. COVID-19 is a new virus and even the most qualified experts are learning more about the nature of the disease as the days pass. To gain insight into your employees’ needs, just reach out to them. Consider setting up a survey to ask questions about their health concerns.
Perhaps the consensus is that mental health needs to be prioritized, or maybe employees need assistance supporting the seniors in their life. There is no shame in getting feedback from the workforce. In fact, many employees may appreciate that their opinion is considered in the decision-making process. Checking-in with others is certainly proving to be a best practice during this pandemic.
💡 Discover 8 Key Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs!
#5 Communicate properly
It’s critical that company leaders avoid public panic during COVID-19. In most cases, employees admire company leaders and look to them during times of crisis. If a company leader is exuding stress and frustration, it is likely that employees will model this behavior as well. As such, leaders should try to remain calm and manage their emotions when communicating with their employees.
While it can be easy to turn inwards in times of panic, it is critical that company leaders avoid this behavior. Right now, it is important that company leaders communicate frequently and share honest updates with their workforce. Consider hosting a bi-weekly or monthly “COVID-19 Meeting” where you discuss your plans as the crisis evolves. Employees can use this as an opportunity to ask questions and gain clarity about their work situation.
Keeping employees in the dark will only enhance feelings of worry and concern. This is also a great way to eliminate any false rumors and gossip that is circulating during these times of uncertainty. Taking a short amount of time to keep employees in the loop will demonstrate great leadership and certainly be appreciated by staff.
💡 Check out 3 inspiring examples of great leadership during COVID-19 and learn from Airbnb, Marriott and Walmart!
#6 Encourage virtual bonding
When your workforce is separated, it is critical that efforts are made to keep employees engaged. Fortunately, there are many strategies available to keep your employees connected – no matter where they are located.
Fortunately, video software such as Zoom and GoToMeeting make virtual interactions easy. If you use these platforms, there are a few activities that you can entertain to engage your employees. First, consider splitting employees into pairs each week and encouraging them to take a “virtual coffee break”. This not only emulates a common business activity, but it is a great way for employees to get better acquainted with those that they don’t normally work with.
Next, consider blocking off time each Friday to host “virtual beers”. This is a great way to end the week on a positive note. Finally, consider having a “virtual lunchroom” open at noon each day. Some employees may miss having lunch with their colleagues and this is a great way to keep the tradition going.
Does your company use a messaging platform to connect with each other? Many companies utilize platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts to keep connected. If these are already used within your operations, consider creating a new channel related to COVID-19. This is perfect for allowing employees to discuss any COVID-19 related banter and news that they discover.
Not only will these activities promote engagement among employees, but staff can use these meetings as opportunities to share their own tips for managing quarantine. From communicating tips for keeping kids occupied to discussing favorite shows to watch on Netflix, this will certainly boost the office camaraderie as employees are physically apart.
💡 For additional ideas, check out our article: Employee Engagement - Why is it Important and How to Build it?
Maintain high employee morale beyond COVID-19
Maintaining high employee morale is certainly challenging during a global crisis, but it’s not impossible to achieve. It’s the little things – like strong communication, increased flexibility, and good access to resources – that show that you care.
Consider working with your leadership team as this pandemic progresses to implement some of these programs. This will certainly put your company in the best situation for maintaining a great culture during this pandemic.
Additionally, when the crisis concludes, your company will be in a strong position to retain talent and hire new employees quickly. Having a reputation for supporting workers and keeping spirits high during a crisis will certainly boost your employer brand and support long-term success.
About the author
Megan Doleweerd is a Marketing Coordinator at InFlight. InFlight is an Employee Experience Platform (EXP) that optimizes existing software investments to resolve bottlenecks that result from overly complicated applications creating friction for candidates and employees. InFlight uses analytics to improve the user experience, reduce training and support requirements, and streamline workflows for existing HCM, ATS, Financials, and other applications.