There’s no need to mince words: We are all feeling stressed right now. It’s a difficult time for everyone, wherever you’re located. And yet, while we take precautions and do our best to stay safe while helping our neighbors, friends and loved ones, we also have to continue moving forward with work. When faced with such a serious, stressful situation, it’s completely understandable that employee morale would take a hit.
Of course, improved morale is good for your business. But more importantly, it’s important for your employees and their families if you can improve morale, even a bit, in this difficult time.
This advice can help:
Depending on the size of your business, you may know all of your employees very well. Or perhaps you don’t know them on an individual basis. That means your employees could be dealing with family or friends who are sick. They could have financial worries due to the stock market hit, or due to a spouse losing his or her job. And they’re likely stressed or at least concerned about their own risk of getting sick.
With so much on their plates right now, it may make sense to alter or even forgive entirely some of your rules or policies that would stand in an otherwise normal world. That could mean not watching the clock to see if people are logging on right at 9, or allowing people to get work done on their own time. Allowing your team to miss a day when they are feeling overwhelmed, or being forgiving if someone has to deliver food to an older parent and can’t make that team meeting.
If you can give a little leeway -- and show some humanity -- your employees will not forget it once life returns to normal.
Communicating with your team should always be a priority, but it’s especially important right now. In fact, you may even get to the point where you feel like you’re over communicating -- and that is probably when you’re at the right place!
From keeping your team informed of any internal changes (especially if it involves cutting hours, salaries and even workers) to updating them on state or local guidelines that affect your workplace -- relevant information to your business is essential.
But don’t be afraid to go a little further. You may want to reiterate details about social distancing, relevant health information in your specific area, and you may even want to help your team by sharing information about which stores in your area are carrying important necessities like toilet paper, frozen food and more.
When so many people feel stressed and even trapped in their homes, constant, effective communication can help them feel less alone.
Although everyone is dealing with stress right now, it’s okay to have a little fun. Have you ever stopped by a virtual “happy hour?” They can be fun! Encourage your team to get a glass of wine or a beer and log in at 4:30 next Friday to talk about the best shows they’re streaming, the funny things their kids did that week, or something else.
Are you using Slack? Consider using the #random channel to start fun conversations, tell (work-appropriate) jokes, share memes, and more fun stuff. Play games, group “watch” Netflix -- the possibilities are endless!
Many of your employees are likely dealing with a very different scenario at home as well as work. With spouses and kids most likely at home too, it is tough for many parents. Plus, as I mentioned above, your team may be caring for older relatives, cooking extra meals for family or friends and dealing with other added stressors during that time.
Choose someone in your company (it could be an admin, HR, or any member of the team) to create and manage your employee crisis resources. This person should compile, disseminate and be sure to update your list of resources so that your team always knows where to go for assistance or information.
With messages (and misinformation) available across the internet and beyond, your resource can put minds at ease and be truly helpful during a difficult time.
We need breaks throughout “regular” workdays, and we especially need them during today’s stressful days. But your team is likely getting lost in work or doesn’t want to appear as if they aren’t working hard while at home.
Be sure to encourage your team to take regular breaks -- not just from their screens, but to get out and go for a walk (local restrictions permitting), meditate, stretch or do something else that will help ease their minds and provide a true break.
This will help ease your employees’ stress, and they will absolutely remember it once we’ve moved on from this difficult time.
Although we are in uncharted territory right now, it’s important to remember that we will get through this difficult time. Hang in there, and do what you can to take care of yourself and your team ❤️