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By Tushar Kad

Five Top Tips for Managing COVID-19 Workplace Morale 

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a first-of-its-kind challenge that is directly impacting life, governments, communities, and business across the globe. The world has rarely witnessed such a united force trying to bring together innovations that we have never seen before. 

Organizations across the globe are redefining the “normal.” While this “new normal” is being established as we speak, it has put an incredible amount of stress on people that are part of the change.  The change has also had a tremendous negative impact on organizations that are losing business and thus also impeding their ability to provide continued employment to their people. There is an ecosystem of smaller organizations around the larger organizations that co-exist and are interdependent. When larger organizations get impacted, the ripples are felt by the smaller organizations around them. This as a result impacts the entire industry. 

However, the supernatural scale of this still-surviving tragedy has also pushed organizations big and small to respond and fight back. The crisis has put organizations to test, forced to adapt at an unimaginable pace. People in the organizations are the engine that is driving the change and thriving through the unprecedented calamity that we refer to as “the COVID-19 Crisis of 2020.” I’m going to focus on a key element that is driving this change – remote working.

Remote working among many other things can disengage people from their leaders, team members, customers, and potentially the very purpose the organization exists. Adjusting to this new way of working can trigger an astounding amount of stress. When people are stressed, their performance suffers and they become disengaged. Companies that don’t address these issues head-on will see extremely unmotivated, tired, and unhappy teams. This will have several negative side effects on the organization which will ultimately threaten the growth, success, or even the very existence of the organization. 

As an HR leader, I’ve learned that having the right intent, knowledge, and tools during these times can immensely enrich relationships with team members and managers, lighten people’s spirits, and boost productivity.

I understand working from home brings new challenges to employee’s lives. Nine-to-five workday parameters become less clear when emails, video meetings, and phone calls are happening at all hours of the day and night. Clearly, in the shelter-in-place fog, some of us are forgetting the difference between 9:00 am and 9:00 pm. 

The good and bad of “Working-From-Home”

Rather than feeling good about not commuting, many are feeling overworked and stressed. Many of us are juggling concurrent demands from work, kids, and significant others with unclear engagement rules. And while technology such as VPN makes it possible to work from virtually anywhere, those unfamiliar with using technology that securely connects corporate systems and applications from home can feel stressed.

Here at Simeio, we were really quick to be able to put some enormously effective practices in place to better our people’s work-from-home situation to remediate the blur between work and home-life boundaries. Here are five key strategies to help keep people motivated and morale high during this unprecedented time of remote working. 

  1. Learning and Development
    A great way to keep the team’s morale up is through online training and professional development. Training is an investment in sharpening skills. When people gain confidence, it helps them understand their importance to the company, and strengthens their sense of purpose.

    People want to be the best at their jobs. And, as employers, you need them to be the best. Online training and professional development courses help them to excel, and in turn, help the companies they work for outperform the competition. Online courses that instruct people on how to optimize their time working remotely will equip them with the necessary tools to best approach their day.
  2. Health and Wellness
    Keeping people healthy and focusing on their wellness helps keep their minds fresh and active. Sponsoring free online yoga, exercise, and dance classes, not only invigorates people to be more productive, but it also helps encourages having a positive frame of mind.
  3. Communication 
    Communication is critical for keeping people engaged and informed. This can be accomplished through frequent company-wide and department-level online meetings that allow people to ask questions about anything on their minds. For multi-national companies, having regional virtual meetings can keep people informed about the business within their geographic sphere.

    These meetings can motivate and inspire, by helping people feel connected through seeing the business beyond their personal projects, and gaining a better understanding of the company’s vision. They can also allow people to share their projects and customer wins that are contributing to the company’s goals.
  4.  Team Building
    Team building is an important ingredient in helping individuals grow together by supporting each other’s strengths and skills. Having regular team meetings through social networking services, like Yammer, are a great way for people to share their experiences and learn from others during this unusual time.

    Encourage people to share their views and ideas on team projects and even the company. If their ideas are practical and beneficial, implement them. And don’t forget to let the team know about their contribution.
  5. Encourage Creativity and Fun
    Creating an environment that includes creativity and fun activities helps lift people’s spirits. At Simeio, we’ve introduced multiple contests and events that bring people together in a way that builds camaraderie. 

    It’s also important for managers to show their staff that you’re not just their boss. Tell them a joke. Set up casual one-on-one video chats. Get to know your staff on a more personal level. 
    Until we get back to whatever will be the new normal, there are many things companies can do to help people cope with today’s lack of normalcy as they work-from-home. While wearing pajamas at work and not commuting may be comforting benefits, the additional stress people have due to the pandemic requires a little creative thought and extra help from their employers.

Hope you find these tips helpful. Stay safe and stay strong.