How to keep your employees motivated and engaged through a crisis
When morale is high, people are productive and the work is outstanding. When it is low, though, output and results suffer.
Low morale is not necessarily due to a toxic office environment. Unexpected change, like the COVID-19 pandemic, is often a factor in a decline in employee morale. According to a survey of 2,278 human resources professionals from the American Society for Human Resource Management, 65 percent of employers say maintaining employee morale is a problem during this health crisis. Strengthening employee engagement can be daunting. However, it is crucial to face the challenge of declining employee morale head-on.
With stress and anxiety at an all-time high, businesses must consider employee engagement strategies to keep their people happy and the work environment positive. Here are several ways to boost morale and engagement in a time of great stress.
Involve your company leaders.
Including your leaders in your communication strategy is one of the most effective ways of boosting morale. Employees seek senior leaders to guide them in a crisis and to provide approaches to improve their situation.
An email, video, or virtual town hall meeting can do wonders for employees. In a recent Brandfog survey on CEO social media during COVID-19, 98 percent of respondents agree that it is vital for business leaders to communicate what they are doing to support employees, customers, and the community.
Don't try to hide problems or pretend everything is fine. Openly communicate with your employees rather than relying on managers to cascade information. Workers appreciate their employer's honesty and integrity above all.
Be as transparent as possible and use multiple channels, be it emails, meetings, or a page on your intranet. The more trust you build, the more likely it is that employees will be direct and honest with you when they have concerns.
Prioritize health and well-being.
In a survey by Ginger, almost 70 percent of employees said the COVID-19 pandemic was the most stressful time in their career. Take a balanced approach by encouraging mindfulness and employee well-being, especially amid a crisis.
Wellness initiatives such as health tips, sleep goals, and mental health workshops create a sense of belonging among employees. In addition, ensure your people have access to adequate health resources so they can get support if they are affected by COVID-19 or other health complications.
Recognize standout employees.
Focus on exceptional hard work. When employees feel genuinely appreciated, they have more self-esteem and become more productive. A study by Psychometrics Canada reports that 58 percent of employees say their leaders could better engage them by recognizing them.
Highlight bright spots, acknowledge individual feats, and recognize employees who show strong leadership. Remember, standout workers should be appreciated for their hard skills, results, and soft skills. Sending a quick thank-you note or simply noticing someone’s hard work can instantly improve their morale. Also, regular recognition can ease some of the daily stress that employees experience.
Check on your people.
Having individual sessions with employees is one of the best practices to boost morale. It may seem time-consuming, but a little effort in allowing them to express themselves brings more positivity to the workplace.
Address comments, concerns, or simply ask how they are. How do they feel about their work? Are they faced with challenges? How can you help? Are they happy at work? Also, spend the first five to 10 minutes of one-on-one meetings asking about your staff’s well-being. Simply asking these questions shows how much you value the happiness of your people.
Quarterly pulse surveys help identify how employees feel and why they feel that way. Keep the survey brief. Polls that have a clear purpose are critical tools for measuring and improving employee engagement.
Collecting feedback, though, is not enough. You need to act on it. Even if you do not implement every input, thank your employees for sending their thoughts and suggestions. If employees see that you are taking action on the concerns they cited in the surveys, they will know they are being heard.
We are in the midst of an unusual time. It is not only the concerns of the workplace that influence the morale of your people. As barriers between home and work life diminish, some employees may find their 9 to 5 schedule overwhelming. Others may have children that they now have to parent, or are looking after a loved one who is ill. Recognize that the situation of each person is different.
Now is not the time to apply rigid procedures for tardiness or dress codes. Be flexible and understanding of employees who face personal and work-related upheavals. Listening to their problems and helping them can go a long way to establish goodwill.
Keeping your people motivated and engaged is challenging during a global crisis, but not impossible. It is the small things that show you care. Give your staff the support they need to be more resilient. Having a reputation for supporting workers and keeping spirits up during the pandemic will boost your employer brand and sustain long-term success.
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