As the COVID-19 pandemic shows little signs of slowing down, the battle is becoming as mental and emotional as it is physical. While people are still concerned about actually contracting the virus, they’re also starting to feel the toll of months spent at home, heavily altered “returns to reality,” and facing the fact that the “end” of this crisis might still be a ways off.
Essentially, the pandemic is taking its toll on morale as well as on physical health.
Of course, as we face this together, it’s important to recognize what we can still do to lift each other up and improve morale within our own spheres of influence. As a manager or business owner, you might be wondering how to do the same for your employees, as they try to cope with immediate and long-term effects of the pandemic.
Here are a few things to try to help keep employee morale high, even in the midst of an unprecedented crisis.
One of the most important things you can do for your employees is make sure they feel valued and supported during this difficult time. There are various ways to do this, depending on your company and employee needs.
- Be aware of their specific circumstances, and try to be understanding when those circumstances stand in the way of a typical work day.
- Provide consistent financial support to your employees as is possible (make sure to look into government lending programs if you’re concerned about company finances).
- Offer resources related to counseling, therapy, and other mental health services. If possible, offer to pay for these services.
- Offer generous sick leave for anyone who might contract the virus.
- Provide masks, hand sanitizer, or other protective products to your employees. Even if they aren’t physically coming into the office, these things will help keep them and their communities safer.
Plan for the future.
Continue to make plans for the future of the company, as is practical. Seeing you plan for the future will help your employees feel more secure in their employment and in the company’s stability. You could even plan future social or networking events, to give everyone something fun to look forward to.
Make sure you have channels in place to keep communication strong among your team members. Ongoing chats, regular video conferences, and more can help create a sense of togetherness and camaraderie, even while you’re apart. Along with this, be available to your employees when they need you. You can play a big role in helping them navigate this crisis, simply by being available to answer questions, offer encouragement, and help maintain some semblance of normalcy.
Set expectations with clients.
Everyone has had to adjust their expectations because of the pandemic. Take the time to reset expectations with clients or anyone else who is depending on your employees. Talk to your employees first about what reasonable expectations might be, and then communicate this to your clients. Doing this will help your employees feel valued, and will hopefully keep them from getting too overwhelmed by their workloads.
Reward from afar.
Continue to reward your employees, whether through verbal praise or monetary rewards. You could buy lunch for everyone, send handwritten cards, pay for a movie rental, contribute to a home office chair, or anything else that might make their time at home more comfortable and help them feel appreciated and rewarded.
Keeping employee morale high is hard enough, even without the pandemic complicating things. Just remember: your employees need to be seen, appreciated, and valued. If you can keep that mindset and help them feel those things, morale will continue to be high, and your team will be as strong as ever on the other side of the pandemic.
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