How To Boost Employee Morale During Difficult Times​ [Free Top 10 Tips Checklist]

It’s no easy feat to achieve high employee morale. It takes more than a salary to ensure that employees are motivated and engaged, and during COVID-19 employers have faced different challenges to maintain employee morale.

The good news is that after the first six weeks of lockdown, one in three HR professionals believed that employee morale was higher than it was before COVID-19.

As many employees continue to work from home, and some gradually return to the workplace, it may become more challenging to maintain morale.

However, there are some actions employers and managers can take to boost workforce morale in difficult times.

Why Is Employee Morale So Important?

If employees are engaged and invested in their roles and the company they work for, it can impact productivity, efficiency and loyalty.

Many factors can affect morale, including leadership, manager and peer support, work environment, trust, culture and how valued employees feel.

Low morale can result in increased business costs due to the high turnover of staff and potentially increased employee absence. Therefore, businesses must look to increase employee satisfaction and engagement to improve productivity and lower costs.

We’re going to share ten tips you can use to improve employee morale during difficult times.

Download Your Free Employee Morale Checklist

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Quickly download this free summary checklist of these 10 tips to help you boost employee morale after the global pandemic.

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10 Tips To Help You To Boost Employee Morale During Difficult Times

1. Gather employee feedback

Before a company looks to improve morale, it firstly needs to consider the current state of morale and how much change is required. This can be done company-wide using tools such as employee satisfaction or pulse surveys, which gather employee feedback anonymously. Once the company has the staff input, it should be reviewed and communicated to employees. Areas that require improvement must have action plans in place. 

2. Talk to individuals

Managers can also gather employee feedback from regular one-to-ones with team members. During lockdown and as remote working continues, there is still an opportunity for managers to ask for feedback from individuals during their one-to-one meetings. If managers can gain gauge morale, it will be easier to consider what needs to be put in place to increase engagement to retain current morale. Again, this is only beneficial if the feedback is reviewed, and solutions are offered. There’s an adverse risk to morale if employees give feedback, and the results are left unactioned.    

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

There is probably no such thing as too much workplace communication. Whether it comes from the top of the business or a line manager, effective communication can aid morale. Employees should be informed about business achievements and change so that they are invested in their employer, but also feel part of the company they work for. 

4. Communication during COVID-19

Currently, with so much change in the way employees are working, businesses must update their people about the potential return to work options, health and safety measures in the workplace and other business-related issues that affect employees. Morale can be enhanced if employees feel like they are kept in the loop, especially at present. The old adage of ‘No surprises’ is relevant when looking to keep morale high.

5. The importance of employee contribution

Employees need to understand where they fit into the company. It’s vital that each employee knows the business strategy and mission and how they and their job can contribute. Such knowledge can increase employee pride and trust in the company they work for and gives them a bigger picture idea of their purpose, which can boost morale and engagement. As employees work remotely, it’s easy for them to lose sight of the bigger company, so management must remind them how the business is performing and how they and their team are contributing. 

6. Virtual morale boosting

With an increased number of the UK workforce working from home during COVID-19, it has created the challenge of ensuring morale from a distance. When employees start returning to work, there may be some employees in the workplace and others working from home, but morale still needs to be boosted in split location teams. Regular team meetings allow all the team to come together regardless of location. Managers can use the sessions to boost morale by offering praise and acknowledgement to individuals and updating the team on company-wide performance and COVID-19 initiatives. 

7. Recognition and rewards

Social events can also be held virtually to encourage engagement and show recognition. Some companies may send small gifts to an individual’s home to show thanks for a job well done, or there may be company ‘Shout out’ initiatives to recognise performance or attitude. A team lunch or drinks may not be possible in person but can be carried out together virtually. They might also be an opportunity for employees to introduce the team to their pet or home office, which can be a light-hearted way to build a team and encourage bonding. A scheme could be introduced where team members praise each other once a week or month so that morale comes from teammates as well as management. 

8. Offer flexibility for employees

COVID-19 has shown us that homeworking can be productive in many different circumstances. Some employees will have managed their job around childcare, and others may have worked different hours. This influx of working from home has allowed many employees the flexibility they may not have had in the past. Employees need to feel like the company trusts them to continue to work flexibly. If they are required to return to the workplace, employees should feel like they can still have flexible work options on occasion.

9. Build a team

Teambuilding may not seem a priority during COVID-19, but it’s an important time to ensure teams are working effectively together and supporting each other. As lockdown eases, face-to-face offsite team building is becoming a closer reality, however in larger groups, or teams where not all members can meet in person, virtual team building can build morale and engagement. 

10. Hold a remote offsite

Managers can organise a specific day for team building and put it in the diary just as it would be if the team were all meeting in person. It may only need to be half a day, but it’s essential to organise specific sessions for team discussions about business changes and updates, team bonding activities and social time. Again, managers should share successes and achievements and be clear about the next steps and team and company objectives.

11. [Bonus Tip!] Managers need support too

While it’s crucial for managers to focus on their teams during difficult times, they also need support to boost their morale and prevent stress or burn out. A recent survey showed 48% of employees had fewer one-to-ones in lockdown, and 38% reported that the frequency of their manager one-to-ones had significantly dropped. Managers have had to adapt to managing their teams differently, and they will also have their own personal challenges. Employers must ensure that they are looking after line managers during COVID-19 and offer praise and appreciation to support their wellbeing.

Often, it’s small things that can raise morale. Equally, little things can adversely affect it too. Company-wide and manager-led communication are vital to inform employees and ensure they are invested in the business. Company changes or messages must be delivered to all employees at the same time to ensure trust and transparency. Managers who have a challenge of managing teams virtually can build team morale, but they need support too. Companies must ensure that they are also communicating with managers and supporting them during difficult times because if managers have low morale, there’s a risk it can transfer to their teams and affect their wellbeing.

Download Your Free Checklist

Remember to download this free checklist of the 10 tips to boost employee morale during difficult times​.

Your Next Steps

COVID-19 has significantly changed the way we work, and these changes will continue to shape the workplace environment. 

If you’d like a little help or just an independent outside perspective on how to put these 10 tips into action, get in touch with us here.

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