Fostering Team Morale Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Here's how you can encourage a feeling of togetherness and unity even when apart.

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These are uncertain times. Uncertainty breeds fear and fear is a hard enemy to beat. Much of the world is still grappling with the ramifications of the Coronavirus pandemic. Our daily lives have been disrupted, and our health, routines, social circles, and work have all been forced to adjust. Unfortunately, there’s no roadmap to help chart a path forward.

At the start of the pandemic, many businesses made the difficult decision to shut their doors and others adapted by giving their employees the option to work from home. But, while this better ensured business continuity, there were still downsides.

The transition to remote work promised peace of mind that the spread of the virus would be contained. But when the initial novelty of working from home wore off, many employees felt overwhelmed, dissatisfied, and frustrated.  

All this begs the question: How do you keep your employees motivated? How do you ensure that overall morale remains high even through such a stressful and tumultuous time?

Here are four tips to bolster team morale and ensure that your employees don’t lose themselves to the anxiety of the situation.

#1. Team Building Exercises

It can be challenging to reinforce the mindset that you are all still a team when people are isolated from each other. Feeling like a valued member of your team is essential to promoting morale, and to keeping your employees engaged and motivated.

One of the ways that you can foster team mentality is to offer fun workplace competitions and teambuilding activities. When you give everyone the chance to interact and let off a little steam, even virtually, it will help them feel less disengaged and provide something to look forward to.

The main goal of team building exercises is to replicate the feeling of being in the office. It can be easy to lose motivation and feel like you’re on an island by yourself when working from home. It’s important to give everyone the chance to connect and be reminded that they’re not alone.

#2. Communication

As the familiar adage goes, communication is key. Communication might just be the most important tip on this list. We’re still facing many daunting implications of COVID-19, and what the future of the workforce might look like. We need to know where we stand with our jobs.  

It is essential that you practice open and honest communication with your employees during this time. As their leader, they will look to you for instruction and assurance. Keeping them up to date with the company and its plans moving forward helps ease any confusion and stop the spread of disinformation.

Daily communication is also important as a way of gathering the team together, whether through online group calls or one-on-one sessions. By doing this, you open the door for any concerns or issues to be addressed, and for your employees to feel that they are heard and understood. Having daily team meetings will also give you a chance to set goals, offer encouragement, and bring everyone onto the same page.

#3. Empathy and Understanding

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been greatly varied. Some have taken a relaxed approach, while others remain fearful. With schools and daycares closed through the end of the year, parents have needed to balance childcare while also working from home. There is also the very real threat to the health of loved ones, especially those most susceptible to the virus.

This is also a time of fluctuation. A time when plans change quickly and unexpectedly. It’s important to allow your team the space and time they need to take care of personal matters, or to take time off if needed.

These extenuating circumstances will hopefully be short-lived. However, we need to remember that we’re all just human beings trying to make sense of a difficult situation. Our compassion and the way we treat one another will be remembered long after this is over.

Take the time to check up on your employees, not only to discuss their work, but also their emotional and psychological needs. When your employees feel supported and understood, it will have a positive effect on morale

#4. Employee Appreciation

Make sure your employees know how grateful you are for their work, their commitment, and their flexibility. An underappreciated employee, especially one that is separated from the rest of the team, can easily flounder in a stressful situation.

It really is as simple as saying thank you. By acknowledging how difficult the situation is, and calling attention to exceptional work ethic, you encourage the whole team. Reminding employees how much you appreciate their dedication and commitment can provide a sense of cohesion and prevent workers from mentally checking out.

At the End of the Day, We’re in this Together

It sounds cliché, but it’s the simple truth. None of us expected these challenges, and none of us asked for them. But, we all have the same goal of adjusting to the new normal and coming out stronger on the other side.

We don’t know how long we will be here, and the road ahead will be filled with challenges. But by implementing these 4 tips, you ensure that team morale remains high and your employees are motivated, understood, and have ample opportunity to thrive. 

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