During this COVID-19 environment, we are hearing from managers and supervisors that morale is one of their biggest challenges. Right now, it is a fact that everyone is doing more with less and companies are running leaner than they ever have, due to the pandemic. In this scenario, both managers and employees are feeling like they are approaching their limits, if they haven’t hit them already. To top it off, there does not seem to be an end in sight for most.
For the leaders we are coaching and in our survey results, we are hearing and seeing the same thing; everyone is tapped out to a level that we haven’t seen before. The interesting part is that most companies are expecting their employee engagement and check-in surveys results to be declining in this environment. But we are not seeing this trend. We think it has a lot to do with the results to one question. When we ask employees if they have confidence in their organization to handle the challenges of the pandemic, responses are averaging at 92%. Employees have faith in their organization to see this through successfully. As leaders, we now need to fulfill this vision they have for the organization. So, how do we keep going under these circumstances?
The following tips will help you keep morale high and loyalty strong, and you can fulfil the faith that employees have placed in us as leaders during the pandemic.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Establish a clear, positive vision, along with roles and goals for every employee. Even when the news isn’t good, or you don’t have the answer, honestly communicate with your employees on an on-going basis. In this COVID environment, we are hearing that communication within their team is high, it is more cross-departmental communication that is a struggle right now. Make it a point to reach across department lines and maintain those relationships. It will help you as a leader, as well as your employees and organization.
- Ask Questions & Listen
Make sure that communication is not only top-down, but from the bottom-up. Conduct a Pulse or Check-in Survey. Right now, at a minimum, you want to be asking questions around health and safety, well-being, communication, engagement and if they have what they need to do their job in their current work situation – whatever that may look like. Ask employees what they think, listen to their responses, and then take action. Let them know how you used their input.
- Provide Autonomy
In theory, if you’ve hired good talent, they should be able to do their jobs without a lot of hands-on support from you. Give people enough distance to do their jobs in the way they think will best accomplish their goals.
- Recognize Team Members
Whole books have been written on the importance of recognition as a morale booster. Customized, individual recognition given by a leader to an employee(s) for specific accomplishments is a much more effective morale booster than organized, institutionalized recognition programs. With so much stress in the work environment right now, recognition is of the upmost importance. Employees need to feel that their leader and organization cares and acknowledges the efforts they are putting into their job at this time. In times of change, you can’t over communicate, and you can’t over recognize.
- Be Flexible
To the extent you can, be flexible about working hours. Giving people comp time off for a job well done, or letting someone come in early and leave early says that you recognize that your team members have a life outside of work. In difficult times, people struggle with trying to achieve a work-life balance. Give them some flexibility.
- Hold All Team Members Accountable
There is nothing that will drive morale down faster than to have some members of your team not doing their job correctly, not fully contributing to the success of the team, or perpetually spreading ill-will and discontent. To keep your top performers engaged and loyal, deal directly with slackers.
Focusing on keeping morale levels high isn’t just a feel-good proposition; it is directly related to the bottom-line. Follow the tips above to help keep your employee’s spirits high during difficult times, and in good times.
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