How to boost employee morale during difficult times
Ensuring the overall wellbeing of employees is at the heart of a morale boost. In times of emotional and social crisis, mental and professional wellbeing takes a prominent role at work. It is important that employers proactively respond to employees’ critical needs to make them feel secure.
With the current trend in employee expectations, factors such as compensation, which has boosted morale in the past, has become old news whereas expectations have increased by multiple folds in terms of enhanced benefits, focus on health and wellness, and long-term security. Additionally, these expectations have brought forth insecurities that are largely influenced by the current situation.
A takeaway from last year is that our engagement model needed to focus more on the development of the employee to address their professional wellbeing. Additionally, with disruptive changes such as long-term virtual work, the need of the hour was an empathetic approach to provide emotional support and act on employees’ apprehensions swiftly to build resilience.
Based on our experience since last year, here are some of my thoughts on how to boost employee morale:
- Communicate with authenticity: In recent times we have realized the true power of transparent and continuous communication. Miscommunications are common when we are connected virtually. Without the subtle cues of in-person meetings such as eye contact, employees may find their leaders less approachable and be less likely to voice their thoughts and concerns. In tough times, employees expect their priorities to be understood and addressed proactively. Letting them know that we are all in it together, keeping virtual doors open for one-on-one meetings, listening to their concerns frequently, and acting on them will go a long way. Frequent communication will ensure real-time updates and address issues on the ground. One important tip – focus on communicating what the employees wish to hear and not what you want to communicate.
- Lead with empathy: In today’s progressive world, employees don’t need a supervising manager, but someone who can lead them towards a shared vision. It is essential that managers equip themselves to handle virtual teams on a foundation of trust by listening more and showing more empathy. Managers also need to support employees to take ownership of their tasks, allow ideation of how projects can be delivered on time, and encourage the highest level of collaboration. Empathetic and trustworthy leadership is something that employees look up to during crises. Regular, timely connect sessions, both formal and informal across all levels, will help retain the strength of relationships and bonds. An important factor that separates successful companies from others is a sense of belonging to the team and organization.
- Offer Flexible Benefits: Changes in scenario demand that employee benefits be regularly revisited and moderated as per the current needs. For instance, emergency medical support, varied insurance schemes, and vaccination leave days are suddenly topics of focus. Make policies more flexible, providing greater choice to employees. Create awareness and popularize the available benefits and the advantages that the employees and their families can avail. Ultimately a robust basket of policies can serve as a reassuring safety net for employees facing the stress of uncertainty.
- Implement Flexible Learning Tools: For any organization, a focus on the growth and development of their employees serves as insurance during uncertain times. A future-ready workforce also addresses the demands of a constantly evolving business. Enable employees to take complete ownership of their development by offering a plethora of learning opportunities. Adapt the right tools and technologies that strengthen a continuous learning culture and support employees in their learning journey. Employees need to build trust in the organization’s commitment towards their career aspirations. Mutual efforts bring in synergies for a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee.
- Focus on Health and Wellness: With health being the top priority, employees need to be able to make the time for their physical fitness as well as their mental wellbeing – including switching off from work to recharge. Giving employees the ability to balance their priorities and make time for family and hobbies can help give them the much-needed mental space and rejuvenation to recuperate from the growing demands of virtual work life. Finally, a shared sense of humor can help teams break the monotony of work and strengthen their bonds.
The pandemic is a human tragedy that is playing out across the globe. People are experiencing unprecedented levels of disruption in both their personal and professional lives. In such times, it is important to establish enhanced connections with employees and create opportunities for teams to share their experiences in personalized ways. Acting upon feedback makes employees feel heard and valued. This builds trust in the organization and creates a conducive environment for employees to thrive and win together.