The pandemic completely changed how the world functioned. According to ILO Monitor, 114 million people lost their jobs globally. Such a severe health crisis followed by employment loss is unlike anything we have experienced before.
From astrophysicists to primary school teachers, nearly every professional had to switch to a remote work environment almost overnight. And understandably, positive employee morale took a hit amidst all the chaos and fatalities brought by Coronavirus.
There is no doubt that working from home offers a plethora of benefits for both the organization and employees. The organization can considerably reduce operational costs, while employees can work from their homes’ comfort and save up commuting expenses.
But it’s been over a year since the pandemic started, and there is no certainty about when it will come to an end. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that HR managers offer employees the support they need. And here are some effective ways your organization can do that.
1. Refrain from Laying Off Employees
Mass layoffs have a serious impact on employee morale. While the employees who managed to retain their position may feel a moment of relief, they are likely to live in fear of being next in line for losing their jobs.
As previously mentioned, tens of millions of people lost their jobs because of the pandemic. If your organization has reached a point where it’s necessary to downsize, you should consider alternatives to mass layoffs.
You can suggest reducing work hours or transferring idle employees to other departments. It can also save your organization from going through the exhausting process of layoffs.
2. Keep Employees in the Loop
Humans are naturally wired to resist change. And considering how rapidly things have changed because of the Covid-19 outbreak, your employees might be on edge about how their roles will change.
It is crucial to keep the employees in the loop about the organization’s plan of action for the pandemic. Otherwise, employees might resort to gossiping and believing false rumors, which can propagate unnecessary panic. Employees will be able to concentrate on work rather than getting distracted by what’s transpiring through the grapevine.
The leaders and managers should make it a point to communicate facts clearly. In a crisis, the best way is to lead with truth. If the organization is struggling and may have to take downsizing measures, your employees should be prepared for it.
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3. Follow Safety Guidelines
This pandemic can only be contained if everyone is following health and safety guidelines issued by official healthcare authorities. Whether you work in an industry where telecommuting is not possible or you’re planning to resume in-office operations soon, the health and safety of your employees should be a top priority.
Equip the workplace with basic amenities such as hand sanitizers and hand soaps. Furthermore, it’s important to rearrange the office layout to make sure there is adequate distance between employees. And of course, wearing masks should be mandatory.
4. Offer Essential Medical Resources
The constant fear of contracting Coronavirus or infecting a loved one can be a great source of stress. This is the time to think about offering your employees additional medical resources. Providing employees better medical coverage will be appreciated by them and boost employee morale.
5. Host Virtual Get Together
With traveling restrictions and social distancing measures, many people are unable to see their family or friends on a regular basis.
Therefore, with all the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, your staff is experiencing isolation like never before. Lack of social interaction can have a significant impact on a person’s mood, well-being, and productivity.
The HR department must find creative ways to host virtual get together for employees. From Happy Hours on Fridays to Trivia Night, planning virtual events every week can help you ensure high morale. You can also explore virtual team-building activities to improve collaboration and communication among team members.
6. Establish Better Channels of Communication
The way this virus has affected the world was completely unpredictable and unexpected. With fake news and other false information circulating on the internet, HR should take the initiative to provide employees with reliable information from official sources. Creating and sharing a weekly newsletter containing information regarding the pandemic can help alleviate anxiety.
Clear communication plays a key role in seamless business operations. Establishing better two-way channels of communication is all the more important now. HR managers should take on the responsibility to routinely talk to individual employees to address their concerns.
Meeting with too many people can make it difficult for some of the staff to share their thoughts. It would be best to follow the 2-pizza rule for meetings to quickly resolve issues and ensure that no one is left behind.
7. Improve Flexibility
It’s quite possible that your employees are taking care of a child, a sick parent, or dealing with their own health issues. Leading with empathy is indispensable in these testing times. Rather than expecting employees to immediately respond to every email or Slack message, allow them more flexibility to manage their schedule.
Several organizations have introduced a flextime work policy. This involves setting a number of core work hours and giving the employees the freedom to choose their starting and ending times.
A compressed workweek is another great alternative to conventional 9-5 work hours. This allows employees to complete their standard 40-hour workweek in less than five days and enjoy a long weekend.
8. Prioritize Work-Life Balance
When employees are working from home, it can become difficult to distinguish between work and personal life. Employees may continue to work, despite completing their work for the day.
Managers and supervisors should avoid asking for updates or calling employees after work hours. Just because they’re at home doesn’t mean they have to be on-call 24/7. Prioritizing work-life balance is necessary to avoid burnout.
Just saying that you care about your employees’ mental health is not enough. It should be an essential part of your company culture. Lead by example and share different ways you are taking care of your mental health. Regularly check in with your employees with a simple ‘how are you?’. Just like email personalization makes customers feel special, it’s also effective in making employees feel seen.
9. Celebrate Personal Wins
These days there isn't much optimistic news to look up to. When every day feels the same, your employees can fall into a funk. This can severely impact their productivity and quality of work.
The HR department can introduce some positivity into employees’ day-to-day lives by celebrating personal wins. Start a newsletter and ask employees to share their achievements, no matter how big or small. Whether a staff member adopted a kitten or someone got to meet their family after months, it’s worth sharing!
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10. Encourage Time Off
Since employees are working from home and probably can’t travel anywhere, why would they need leaves? Well, even if employees are not going to Europe on vacation, they still need time off to rest and revitalize. Encourage employees to utilize their paid leaves.
The Bottom Line
The anxiety and stress of these uncertain times are seriously affecting employee morale. Disengaged and unmotivated employees will produce poor quality work, which can be detrimental to your business. This pandemic is an opportunity for organizations to showcase how much they value their employees.
About Author: Becky Halls is a Co-Founder of Hyperise, a Hyper personalization toolkit for B2B marketers. She’s an experienced Growth Marketer, passionate about product design/development and online marketing.