Forget the Free Snacks: Here’s How to Actually Boost Morale During a Crisis

February 3rd, 2021
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Employee morale has become a big issue during the pandemic.

Studies and surveys abound on the subject, including one that FlexJobs and Mental Health America conducted recently. They found 75% of employees have experienced or are experiencing stress-related burnout. Top reasons: a lack of separation between work and life, larger than normal workloads, and worries about job security. Employee mental health is taking a nosedive, too.

It’s no wonder — so much about everyday life and working life has changed, and may never return to the way things were. Add to that the CDC recommendations for celebrating the holidays only with members of your own household cancelling visits with grandma, the dire warnings about hospitals filling up, record numbers of cases of COVID spiking throughout the country, and the general fatigue people are feeling about dealing with this crisis. You can all but assume your employees are feeling blue, stressed, or burned out. That can take a toll on productivity, which is the last thing companies need right now.

So, what do we do about it? Whether the country is in a crisis or not, it’s HR’s charge to tend to morale in the workplace. Pre-pandemic, relatively simple things like free lunches or half-day Fridays went a long way to nurture employee morale and contribute to building a strong company culture. Today, with everyone working remotely, pizza in the breakroom isn’t a possibility. But even if it were, these times call for stronger stuff. Shoring up morale in the time of COVID means more than free snacks and a beer fridge. Here are some ideas I’ve been hearing from our clients.

Start your weekly Zoom meetings with good news. It’s a tactic coined by the workplace operating strategy EOS. Each meeting participant shares the best thing that happened at work and in their personal lives the previous week. Starting on a high note sets the stage for a productive meeting and, frankly, just makes people feel good. Not having weekly Zoom meetings? Get on that. The “face-to-face” aspect goes a long way toward combatting feelings of isolation that can come from remote work.

Weekly companywide newsletters. Written by your CEO or other top brass, the newsletter could include updates on the state of the company, achievements, personal “good news” shared in meetings, and other positives. The idea is to tie everyone together and remind people they’re working on, and achieving, shared goals.

Zoom happy hour. Getting together on company time to share a cocktail or mocktail is a great morale builder.

Enforce off-the-clock time. One downside to working at home is you’re always at the office. For some people, it can mean never turning off the computer, always checking emails and other work communications, and in short, never getting away from work. Burnout quickly follows. It’s important to let your remote workers know it’s OK, and even mandatory, to knock off for the day and enjoy the work-life balance that working at home can provide.

Invest in their future. These are uncertain times. Many employees wonder whether they’ll have jobs when the dust settles, and nothing can erode morale faster than worries about job security. While you can’t guarantee people they’ll be able to keep their jobs (layoffs happen in the best of times), you can invest in their future. Look into paying for online upskilling programs in which people can get the skills and knowledge they need to move up the ladder and enhance their careers. Offering outplacement to employees that you’ve had to lay off is another powerful way to invest in their futures. It shows outgoing employees you’re not cutting them loose with no safety net, and shows survivors they’ll be similarly helped if another layoff happens.

Soma is usually taken 3 times a day and at bedtime. Follow your doctor’s instructions very carefully. This medication should only be used for a short time. Soma (Carisoprodol) is only part of a complete treatment program, which may also include rest, physical therapy, or other pain relief measures.

There is an end to this pandemic, and it’s being stored at -95 degrees Fahrenheit. But it will be months before the vaccine is available to everyone. Even with a vaccine, it’s looking like remote work, or a hybrid of remote and office work, will become the norm when the dust settles. Tending to the morale of your remote workers will continue to be a top issue for HR in the months and years to come.

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