Lockdown 3 has plunged many of us back into uncertainty and, for many, back into remote working situations. Now, worries and doubts are starting to creep in once again, and we are seeing low levels of energy at all levels within a business. 
According to a survey conducted by Human Resource Management, 65% of employers said maintaining employee morale during COVID-19 is a problem – but how do you remedy this? 
Here are 10 ideas to boost employee morale without breaking the bank: 
1. Let managers set the right tone 
Give managers the mandate to allow their teams to take time off to avoid burnout – there needs to boundaries between work time and home time to keep a balance. 
Give managers the tools to recognise and reward their teams – this can include online recognition, shout outs, a budget for tokens of thanks delivered to home addresses. Saying ‘thank you’ and showing gratitude for employee’s efforts will go a long way. 
Give your management team the information and the ability to communicate freely and often about business performance and future plans – reassurance and honesty from an employer will usually be returned with loyalty and commitment from an employee. 
2. Be clear about expectations 
Explicitly outlined expectations give employees an understanding of how their roles may have changed, and even something as simple as when to log-in each day will help to reassure them. Some employers allow more flexibility, while others require a more structured schedule when working remotely. Letting your employees know what is expected of them will reduce stress and anxiety. 
If you don’t already have one, create a Remote Work Policy and share it with your employees for reference. Continually update it as things come up, and let your team know each time there is a change. 
3. Provide and encourage feedback 
Feedback can be difficult, especially when you’re an avoider of conflict (most of us!). However, it’s a crucial tool to have in your toolbelt. It offers transparency, defines goals, and builds leaders. 
Companies that implement regular feedback experience a 14.9% lower turnover rate. 
To give feedback correctly: 
• listen to the person to whom you are providing feedback. Understanding their thought process is essential because, in most cases, the employee already knows they could be doing better. Always focus on performance and not on personality; after all, you aren’t discussing them, you’re talking about what they do. 
• Be granular. “Good job” isn’t showing them what was right, instead explain what exceeded expectations. Giving them direction to help them continue the positive things they are doing helps them know what they need to do to change for the better. 
• Try to be open to receiving feedback yourself; after all, this is new to you too. Giving and receiving feedback is NOT about you. It’s about making your team better and getting through this together. 
4. Check in with your colleagues 
Make sure to stay connected in and across your teams with regular video calls and check-ins to allow everyone to stay in the loop and share any concerns. Try to encourage virtual bonding by giving your employees access to a variety of remote working tools, including team chat, text, live chat and project management software. You should also consider bringing together wider teams through online events and meetings. While you may be tired of Zoom quizzes at this stage, there’s plenty more options with a little imagination! 
5. Allow employees to have autonomy and flexibility 
I know it can be difficult to believe that if you aren’t watching over their shoulder and they are at home, they aren’t working, but the truth is that remote employees tend to work more, not less. Providing employees with autonomy increases employee engagement and productivity and makes your team feel more valued. If you’re clear about expectations, trust that they’ll meet them. 
Giving your staff more opportunities to work flexibly will not only show that you have trust in them but will also allow them to shape their day in a way that they’re most productive. 
6. Resolve issues quickly with a phone call 
Not to beat a dead horse but, this situation is new for many of your employees. There will be hiccups along the way. Practice patience and empathy acknowledge that things aren’t going to be perfect, and will be different but, don’t hesitate to address issues as they arise. Nobody can correct something they aren’t aware is a problem. There are often misunderstandings via written communication, and sometimes, you need to pick up the phone (or dial into Zoom) to resolve issues quickly. 
7. Align with company culture and values 
Just because your workforce is now remote, doesn’t mean your core company values and culture need to change. Define for employees your organization’s mission from the perspective of the current situation. Review and adjust goals as needed. If you have a weekly get-together, keep it, and do it virtually. Find ways to encourage employees to practice your company values every day. After all, the fundamental, most important things never change, no matter the situation. 
8. Host virtual lunch and learns 
Another great way to keep your team engaged is by tasking them with hosting a virtual lunch and learn for your team on an ongoing basis. 
Whether it’s weekly, monthly, or any cadence you choose, assign each person a time where they can research something relevant to your industry that they find useful and interesting and have them present it to the team. 
This way, they can learn and practice key soft skills all while keeping connected with the rest of the team. 
Or you can mix it up and ask people to choose a topic that they are knowledgeable about from, fishing to chess to martial arts to favourite holiday destinations. You’ll be surprised by all the unexpected things you can learn about your colleagues! 
9. Share good news 
As we find ourselves plunged in and out of various levels of lockdown, it can be easy to start thinking that the negatives outweigh the positives. This means that it is now more important than ever to share good news across your business, whether it’s something business related like a strong financial year, a big win, or something more personal and closer to home like a new baby or a wedding. It’s surprising just how much one positive snippet of information can give someone hope or brighten up their day. 
10. Give employees access to wellbeing resources 
As supporting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace becomes increasingly prevalent, it’s important that your employees know how to access help and support as and when they need it. If your workplace has resources available, ensure that these are kept in a place which is accessible to all, such as your company intranet, and communicate their whereabouts frequently.  
It’s also worth sharing the details of free resources that are available to the public, including the Samaritans helpline. 
Read our tips on managing a team remotely here. 
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