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How to Boost Employee Morale in Uncertain Times
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How to Boost Employee Morale in Uncertain Times

What to do when morale is low.

October 6, 2020
Rob Lennon
Customer Education Lead at Hugo
Marketer and author with experience spanning a diverse 16 years in retail and SaaS startups across healthcare, mar-tech, and ad-tech, and productivity software sectors.

It’s understandable when ongoing economic and social crises wear away at team members’ energy levels. Good leaders offer support and time off for rest when needed, but when staff morale is low for an extended period, it’s time to go the extra mile. Here’s how to boost employee morale when everything feels uncertain.

Make Your Workplace One of Reprieve

It isn’t enough to simply acknowledge how morale can decline in tough times. Leaders need to make sure that the work environment they’ve created isn’t adding to the weight team members are already bearing from outside forces.

To this end, take time to assess whether your workplace is one that feels calm and collected. Do team members feel they have the time and resources they need to complete their work or are they often frantic? Do employees have a healthy work-life balance or are they working through their breaks and staying late? How easy is it for workers to find the tools and support they need?

Based on your answers to these questions, address any areas where your workplace culture could be improved to relieve stress. Train managers if necessary, and check-in with employees individually.

Morale Boosting with Individual Check-Ins

Communication is arguably the most effective way to boost employee morale. Without good communication about organizational goals and expectations, morale will plummet. With clear benchmarks and regular check-ins, however, leaders can quickly boost morale at work.

Individual check-ins are an opportunity to clear up miscommunications and build personal connections with team members. These 1-on-1 meetings are a good time to ask how team members are handling difficult news feeds, whether they’re getting enough time away from work and current events to recharge, and get their input on what managers and executives could be doing better to ease any burdens.

To really increase employee buy-in to morale-boosting ideas, try asking for their input on how managers and executives can support employee initiatives or improve teambuilding efforts. With enough honest feedback, leaders can hone in on opportunities to boost morale they may have otherwise missed.

Boost Morale at Work with Incentives

With an idea of team members’ concerns, goals, and suggestions, it becomes much easier to offer incentives to boost morale. Perhaps some employees are struggling with child care, transportation, or technology if working from home. Your organization may be able to help by seeking discounts for team members or offering reimbursements.

In the bigger picture, what are some things your employees would like to work towards? Do you have any promotion tracks, or offer professional development opportunities? Could you offer tuition reimbursement for pursuing education or certifications that benefit your organization?

Invest in your team members, and you’ll soon discover just how much positive morale affects an organization. Double down by recognizing employees’ hard work. A thank you, or even an employee-of-the-month gift card and public acknowledgment can go a long way.

Being Human is a Morale Booster

We’ve touched on the need for work-life balance, but morale will plummet in a work environment that restricts people’s ability to just be human. Make breaks a priority by genuinely encouraging team members to step away from their work from time to time during the day and throughout the year. Schedule outings that get employees away from their desks so they can recharge and return to work refreshed.

To infuse this prioritization into your workplace culture, revisit your time off policies. Is it easy for team members to get approved for vacation time? Are team members still required to come in to work even during inclement weather? Is there an option to work from home a few days each week? Making a few changes can work wonders to boost employee morale.

Lastly, being human also means celebrating wins and coming together over losses. Make an effort to recognize birthdays, weddings, and work anniversaries. Provide time off when someone has lost a loved one. Connecting as a community will greatly boost morale at work.

Lighten the Load When Morale is Low

When morale is low, the last thing you want to do is pile on more work. Rather, aim to ease the mental burden with practices and tools that make things easier. For example, many businesses are moving to tools like Slack to relieve team members of some of the 121 emails sent and received on average per day. Similarly, tools like Hugo’s meeting software can streamline planning, note-taking, and task-tracking for meetings.

Curious about whether your meetings are a drain on morale? Check out our free Meeting Health Assessment to see if meetings are a factor in low morale at your organization.

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Rob Lennon
Customer Education Lead at Hugo
Marketer and author with experience spanning a diverse 16 years in retail and SaaS startups across healthcare, mar-tech, and ad-tech, and productivity software sectors.

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