How to Strengthen Morale in an Uncertain Time
Unexpected change is hard on company morale. Not knowing how long that change will last can make it even more difficult for your team to thrive.
It’s important for an organization to strengthen its position from an operational standpoint in these times of uncertainty, but not at the expense of employee morale.
“Morale is no back-burner issue, especially during this time,” Paul McDonald says in Forbes. “If employees feel unmoored and unsupported, they are not likely to be productive.”
Before you work on fixing low morale, you have to determine if it exists and how widespread it is.
You can’t rely on your team to self-report how they are feeling as they may worry that it will reflect negatively on them. If you were in person, you might be able to tell by body language or facial expressions, but when you’re working remotely, you have to pay even more attention to signs of low morale.
Some examples of red flags include decline in work quality or decreased communication from your team. McDonald also points out that unusual communication practices can be a red flag.
“Late-night emails and employees who always seem to be online are not necessarily signs of a dedicated, engaged team,” he says. “It may be that staff struggling with an overwhelming workload do not feel comfortable alerting you.”
McDonald offers four ways to boost morale for your team.
Show what you’re doing to stabilize the business
Though your team probably knows what is going on in their department, being away from the rest of the organization can be hard and transparency can help those uneasy feelings. Make sure you are sharing how you are keeping employees safe.
“Reiterate that the company’s mission and values continue to guide the organization,” McDonald recommends. “Explain how they provide the foundation for the changes and hard decisions the business has made and is making.”
Increase communication—with all key stakeholders
“Make communication efforts clear, consistent, and timely, and only share information that target audiences will find most relevant,” McDonald says.
Provide resources to those who need it
During disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, many people have been asked to do more than they normally would at work. Don’t forget to help your team with that increased workload by asking what they need to do their jobs well.
“Interim resources can be a lifeline for fully tasked teams until key projects have been handled and workloads subside for a while,” McDonald explains.
Embrace empathy—and remain human
This time of crisis is hard for your team in ways you may not even know. There are things you can do to help ease the burden such as providing flexibility when possible and showing you are willing and able to listen to their concerns.
“Staying in touch with, and acknowledging, employees’ concerns and feelings is, perhaps, the most important way to ensure morale stays strong as the business navigates through this uncertain time,” McDonald says.