Do you recall the last time you worked in your office? As we’re fast approaching the one year mark of COVID-19’s debut, many employees are still finding themselves working from home. Remote work was somewhat common before the pandemic set in, but now it is the norm for a large percentage of the population. While there are many perks that come with working remotely, it comes with its fair share of challenges.
One in particular is centered around employee morale. In an office setting you’re able to see your co-workers regularly, take lunch breaks together, engage in water cooler conversations and bounce ideas off each other. These interactions help to keep employees engaged with and connected to their co-workers and job tasks.
When employee morale is down, you may notice a change in behaviors. Employees may not be as motivated to work hard or they may even experience changes in their mental health. This is why it’s crucial to protect your workforce from falling into these patterns and do your part to maintain morale, even from a distance.
Communication is Key
If you’re not seeing your employees face to face on a regular basis, lines of communication can become crossed. Now more than ever, your team is counting on you to over communicate. Keeping your team in the loop, especially when it comes to changes that directly affect them, will provide them with a sense of belonging to the organization, even if it’s from a distance. This applies to everything from company announcements, to new procedures that are being rolled out and even to internal news such as the birth of a colleague’s child.
Checking in with your employees to see how they’re feeling physically and emotionally is crucial during this remote work period we’re in as many people find they are more isolated than ever before. Schedule a recurring time to meet with each team member individually just to check in, this small gesture can really make a positive impact on morale not only for the individual but for the entire team.
Sing Their Praises
In addition to keeping lines of communication open, recognizing and praising your employees for their hard work and dedication during these uncertain times can take morale from zero to 100 quicker than you might think. When you were all in the office together, the opportunity to give an in-person shout out probably occurred constantly. There are many different options when it comes to shouting out your employees even when you aren’t in office together.
Now that you’ve switched to remote, you can be more creative with employee recognition. Whether it’s a verbal shout out in a company-wide virtual meeting or a written post on a Confluence page, praising your team members publicly not only makes them feel appreciated but gets their dedication and skills out there for the rest of the company to see.
Take the praise one step further by sending those employees who are going above and beyond a thank you in the form of their favorite treat. When it comes to those team members who are local, you can do a socially distant drop off.
Want to be completely contact-free? Have their surprise delivered! This allows you to choose what you want to send based on the individual you’re sending it to. If you’re rewarding a team member who loves wine, opt for an alcohol delivery service. Find out what their preferences are ahead of time and plan the delivery for a Friday afternoon so they have the weekend to enjoy their well-deserved beverage.
Set Them Up for Success
When your employees are not given the proper tools they need to complete their daily tasks, they will become frustrated. This frustration will then lead to a decrease in both productivity and morale. Avoid this by providing your team members with the tools they need to succeed. Some of these tools can be as simple as the proper video conferencing software or an ergonomic desk chair. If they have a comfortable and safe workspace, they can focus on various tasks throughout their day. Consider offering a stipend for employees to use to invest in home office equipment, or a monthly reimbursement to cover their technology expenses such as internet service.
Touch base from time to time to make sure your team not only has access to the proper tools but also knows how to utilize them to their benefit. You can even offer optional ergonomic trainings for employees to learn how to optimize their remote work space. In addition to raising morale, your team members will feel more organized and productive.
Encourage Them to Unplug
One of the biggest struggles of remote work is never truly being able to unplug from your responsibilities. When your employees are in the office they can close their laptops at the end of the day and leave work at work. While working from home they may be tempted to work long into the night to accomplish everything they were unable to get to that day.
Making it a point to encourage your team to unplug and maintain a healthy work/life balance is an essential part of your role during this time. Reiterate the importance of using PTO, and let your employees feel safe in taking a mental health day if needed as this is important to both their emotional and physical health. Try motivating your employees to take small breaks throughout the day by suggesting they block time in their schedules to go for a walk or meditate. Some companies have even been going as far as gifting employees with additional days of PTO to ensure employees have adequate time away from their screens.
Company Perks Tailored To Remote Work
While shout outs, extra PTO days and special rewards are great ways to boost morale among your team, have you ever thought about providing them with discounts on stuff they actually use? Pre-COVID many employers offered incentives such as discounted gym memberships, mobile phone plans, and parking stipends. Why not continue this trend and adjust it based on remote work?
As people are spending more time at home, and often balancing childcare and remote learning needs, they may be struggling to keep up with housework and meal preparation for their families. Offering a house cleaning stipend or a meal delivery service could alleviate some of their stress and allow them to be more present in their work.
Push Them to Connect With Each Other
Are your employees on specific teams and often feeling siloed from the rest of their co-workers? If so, this is the perfect opportunity for you to push them to interact with people outside of their “group” through team building exercises. Whether it’s a fitness challenge, a trivia game on a Friday afternoon, or a coffee meet up once a month, getting face-time with people outside of their immediate teams will provide your employees with a nice change of pace and push them outside of their comfort zone a bit.
Although the workplace is looking quite different these days, it’s still important to keep the morale at a high rate among your employees and team members. Keep in mind that employee relations is a team sport and bringing everyone together and keeping spirits high is possible. For more on how you can make 2021 a great year as an Employee Relations professional, check out this post on the blog. How will you incorporate these tips into your team’s plan to boost morale while working remotely?