Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses have had to overcome so many extra challenges, especially regarding getting employees to come back to work, boosting employee morale once they’re there and keeping employees motivated, even if they’re working remotely.
So, we have asked the incredible CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to share their own best tips for increasing employee motivation and morale. Their answers are presented below, in no particular order.
You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Encourage Openness and Honesty
In a time of so much uncertainty and change, employees want to know that you care and that they are valued. As they begin to transition back into the workplace, give them the space to provide open and honest feedback. Whether that's in sharing how they feel about new procedures and protocols, or in expressing their own concerns and uncertainties - prioritizing the mental health of your employees will make all the difference between a smooth or a difficult transition.
Right now, what workers require is guidance and interaction during all this confusion and anxiety. Employees are looking for advice and encouragement from their leaders, particularly when the emotions are running high. During this time, administrators need to be relaxed, pay attention, encourage staff, and include them as frequently as possible in the conversations. Don't step back from taking responsibility or talking; people need details and need affirmation in a moment like this.
3. Weekly "Cheers" Meeting
From the start of the pandemic, we have been conducting weekly team zoom meetings in which we don't discuss work but rather, chat as if we were on a summer patio. Sometimes, drinks are welcome and we all cheers from our respective homes. It's important to maintain a connection between employees, and to continue to feel like a 'team'. It's important to hear about others' personal experiences during this time and connect on a personal level. We have other earmarked time to address work related matters.
We sent all of our employees a care package where they received food for their family, coffee, and lots of company swag. We are sending a second package with some more goodies, including some branded face masks, more sanitizers, cleaning supplies, and important information about how to get back to work safely. Weekly, we email our team with lots of updates and motivate them as much as we can from afar.
5. Silver Linings of COVID-19
Show your team the silver linings of working in isolation to keep them motivated. Make them aware of the perks of working from home, such as following no dress code and spending more time with your family in this alarming situation.
Make them reassured that working from home in isolation will not only allow them to avoid less interaction with people, but also allows them to look after their family. Moreover, I always urge my team to listen to motivational lectures and read books while working.
Rameez Ghayas Usmani of PureVPN
6. We MUST Re-Onboard Employees
Over the last 120 days or so, there have been changes big and small in your company. Now is the time to bring people together, in a round table format, to identify what has changed in terms of communication methods, policies, procedures and work arrangements and talk about it. Decide what has worked, what has not and get rid of any sacred cows that are holding people back from moving forward. Now is the time to gain opinions from all staff and be ready to pivot. That is how you move forward!
7. Thriving With Measurable Tasks
At Latana, we're all about data, but also about a positive and friendly workspace. Keep your employees happy by assigning small, measurable tasks, but also leave enough space for creativity. People love to have the freedom to do things their own way, and this is essential in a collective workspace.
Joy Corkery of Latana
The way we are staying motivated during the pandemic is that we are viewing this as the opportunity of a lifetime. What better time to buckle down and get a ton of stuff done that we wouldn't have had the time for if things had stayed the same. We are not taking this time off or lightly one bit. We are actually working more and going to hit the ground running once this is all over. Instead of sleeping in, getting fat, and going on vacations, we are training, eating right, and staying fit!
Keeping employees engaged and connected is especially important when they are physically apart from each other. During the COVID-19 pandemic, employee safety has been our number one concern, but we also want to make sure that people still feel like they’re part of the group. Each month, our company sends out care packages filled with snacks, masks, wellness products, and fun surprises. These packages have increased employee happiness and created an experience that we can all share together.
10. Encourage Breaks and Balance
As employees adjust to working from home, many may find their work-life balance blurred. It's easy to work through lunch, work late, and remain available during off hours when working from home. But, this can quickly lead to burnout.
Encourage employees to maintain a good work-life balance and take breaks as needed. We've found success in implementing an optional weekly yoga hour where employees can take a break and stretch together. We also offer a weekly virtual happy hour our workers love.
The difficult times such as we are facing now are the best opportunity for a drastic change in how we work. If you used to be micromanaging and monitoring every step of your employees, now is the time to motivate them by allowing them to take responsibility and deliver their best.
Step back, take a look at your business and what your team members best at. Capitalize on their strengths and help them show their bright sides in the most appropriate tasks and areas of responsibility.
12. Flexibility and Empathy Wins
Pandemic or not, most of our team already works remotely. While they don't have to physically come into our office, their families and schedules are still affected. Their daycares are closed, there's uncertainty with the coming school year, and people are juggling parenting while also working. We communicate with our team regularly through group and one-on-one Zoom meetings. Based on these meetings, we've set up new SOPs that are flexible in order to help during these unprecedented times.
13. Be Attentive and Compassionate
Anyone holding a leadership position at their company need to be attentive to their employees' needs and compassionate about the struggles we are all currently dealing with. Leaders of the company should be consistently reaching out to their employees, letting them know that they have people there for them during these tough times. Leaders should also be hosting some type of virtual get together at least once a month to maintain a sense a sense of community and boost company moral.
Small businesses have been hit hard during the COVID crisis. Fortunately, one of the hallmarks of small business owners is resiliency. Small business owners must remember they are resilient and be willing to see opportunity during this time. What we focus on expands. If you focus on the challenges this crisis has caused, you'll miss opportunities. Consider reminding your staff to explore, experiment and increase their knowledge during this time. This can generate a new perspective.
Music is magic. It can completely transform someone's level of energy and happiness. At least once a day, offer a Dance Party at work by playing upbeat, fun music. You could even supply goofy hats, pom poms, and other props that everyone could use to go crazy while the music plays.
Everyone in the office has probably been sitting at their desk for way too long, so it's a fun way to get a little exercise and get people stretching and moving.
If you have to be at work, make it fun!
Carol Roth is a national media personality, "recovering" investment banker, dealmaker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation.