Navigating the ins-and-outs of a career is challenging enough in normal times, but 2020 introduced a whole new layer of workplace stress. Employees not only had to worry about health issues regarding the pandemic, but also had the additional stressors of working from home, child care, job security, and many other newfound challenges. This largely had a negative impact on overall employee morale.
Having high employee morale is important for companies as it can lead to increased productivity and lower turnover rates. This makes addressing the morale issues that arose during the pandemic an essential task for 2021. Fortunately, with vaccines in production, it is easier now more than ever to have a positive outlook on the coming year. Yet, with life not returning to normal anytime soon, it is necessary to find ways to support your employees in the meantime.
There are several steps you can take to address morale issues among your staff. Here are four ideas on how you can create and promote a positive employee experience in 2021 for yourself and your team.
#1: Prioritize Health and Safety
Throughout 2020, people have been dealing with threats to not only their physical wellbeing but also their mental health. Helping employees navigate these difficult times is fundamental in creating a culture that supports company morale.
With COVID-19 cases still rampant, the best way to keep your employees safe is to allow them to stay home until a vaccine is widely accessible. However, this isn’t possible for all jobs, so if your team is going into the office, do whatever you can to maintain safety at the workplace. Most importantly, have plenty of personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, available for employees to use. Also, be sure to enforce appropriate distancing measures to ensure that people stay at least 6 feet apart. Be strict about these rules and don’t deviate from them. It’s important to demonstrate to your employees that you care about their health.
In the event an employee does become sick — with coronavirus or any other illness — it’s essential that you have well-established sick leave policies in place. Make sure to communicate these clearly with your employees, so that they understand the support that is available to them. If you wish to go the extra mile for a sick team member, you can have much-needed Nyquil, Mucinex, and other over-the-counter medications delivered to them in minutes. This way they can rest up and focus on feeling better. They’ll certainly appreciate the kind gesture and that their company supports their wellbeing.
#2: Prevent Burnout in Employees
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the traditional 9–5 schedule. Remote work has taken over many companies’ former work models, and will likely continue to a certain degree even in a post-covid era. It’s crucial to revise old policies and create new ones, in order to prevent employee burnout.
Use the start of the New Year as an opportunity to reevaluate your remote work policies and see if there are opportunities to better them. When possible, allow your team to follow a more flexible schedule, so that they can work during hours that they are more productive. Employees appreciate this added flexibility, especially if they are juggling working from home with children and other responsibilities. With the help of a simple time tracking system, employees can easily record their working hours, making this flex-schedule possible.
Additionally, encourage workers to take vacation time during the first part of 2021. Many people might hesitate in order to save their PTO and use it after the vaccine is widely available, but it’s important to let them take time off sooner in order to prevent burnout. Avoiding work-related burnout and stress will only improve your employees’ job satisfaction and morale.
#3: Celebrate Individual and Team Milestones
This past year has been tumultuous for companies worldwide. The pandemic has hurt sales and revenue, leaving many companies struggling to stay afloat, leading to high levels of stress and anxiety regarding job security.
To help fight against this fear, it is important to show appreciation for your employees’ hard work. Leaders should be sure to celebrate company wins when they occur, no matter how big or small, in order to boost morale. Share these wins with your team as they occur. By reinforcing these victories, you create a more positive atmosphere and it also reminds employees that there are still successes to be had, even in difficult times.
Second, emphasize individual accomplishments. Make time to applaud people when they succeed, and for reaching certain milestones. Find fun ways to celebrate these accomplishments, as this can also help people feel more connected, even when working remotely. Taking the time to recognize individuals on your team will go a long way in creating value for your company.
#4: Communicate Well and Often
It can be frustrating for employees to feel like they are being left in the dark about important decisions that are made at the managerial level. To counteract this, communicate any news on reopening dates, health-safety policies, or any other important operational news that directly impacts your staff. Even though dates and information may be changing day-by-day, your employees will appreciate the transparency with the updates, and it will help alleviate some uncertainties. By sharing information as soon as it is available, you can also help reduce some stress and prevent potentially false information from spreading.
Having open lines of communication with your employees also enables your staff to share any concerns or suggestions of how to make the current situation easier for them. They might have an idea of how to navigate remote work easier or suggest a better tool that will benefit communication and collaboration. Giving your employees a platform to voice these concerns or suggestions will help them feel more in control — something that can be beneficial during times of uncertainty.
Boosting your employees’ morale at the start of 2021 will only help your company prosper. These four strategies will hopefully help you and your team succeed in the modern workplace. Happy New Year!