When COVID-19 first became an issue, all sorts of businesses started to allow employees to work from home. It was a refreshing change from the typical daily grind. People appreciated working in their pajamas, taking coffee breaks in their living room, and communicating through text or voice.
However, as time passed, many people began feeling disconnected and isolated from spending so much time alone at home. This can lead to a drop in employee morale, affecting engagement and productivity for the entire company.
Taking steps to prevent this from happening is crucial right now.
When you keep morale high, your business is more likely to find success. However, new methods may need to be introduced with employees working from home to improve worker happiness.
Finding new options for communicating and working as a team can help you keep your company culture alive — even if everyone is in a different location. Below are a few ways you can keep morale up for employees who are working from their own homes.
Create New Ways to Connect
As remote workers, employees need to know how to reach out to senior supervisors and managers for issues. In offices, in-person communication is taken for granted. But it's not always as easy to talk to coworkers in a remote environment. When you’re working remotely, altering your communication methods is essential since spontaneous conversation may be harder to implement.
One option for connecting as a team is to have a daily meeting every day. In the morning, a short meeting of 10 to 15 minutes can be the perfect time to make sure everyone is on the same page. Employees can ask for needed assistance or share updates about the tasks that they are working on. It offers an easy way to stay in touch and start any workday off on the right foot.
Many offices are seeing success by implementing technology that lets the team stay in touch throughout the day. Rather than focusing on traditional programs like Zoom and Slack, consider other options that let employees connect without the work connotation behind it.
For example, if your team likes to play video games, everyone can join a Discord server and play outside of work hours. A more intellectual company culture might mesh with an online book club. Just make sure that what you choose is tailored to the people you work with so they have fun with it.
There are also collaboration tools online that can work well for remote employees. For instance, both Filestage and Bit.ai break the mold a bit and can make working more fun when employees are in a remote environment.
For the best results, take a look at what options are out there and then provide the technology that makes the most sense for your team.
Offer Virtual Social Time
Another way to keep morale up with remote workers is by ensuring there is time to be social and talk about things other than work.
When remote workers aren't in the office, it's not always easy to keep track of when they are at the desk and when they're taking breaks.
If you make break time an opportunity for chatting and enjoying a pause from productivity, it can improve morale while ensuring nobody is overworked.
This can be something as simple as having group breaks on an occasional basis where everyone grabs lunch in front of a video camera to spend time together on something that isn't work-related. With many remote employees spending tons of time at home right now, even having a few minutes every day to take a load off and interact with other people about mindless things can help with morale.
Implement virtual coffee breaks and team lunches to make long hours at home feel a bit more like a day at a traditional office. It can help break up the time and make employees feel a bit better about working on their own from home. Get creative and choose options that work well with the personalities of the people on your team. Even a few minutes a day where everyone can step back from work can make the other work hours more productive.
Recognize Employee Achievements
Regardless of the location where employees are working, one of the best-known ways to increase morale is by recognizing when workers reach achievements.
Research in the field of psychology reveals that people want to be appreciated. This method also helps individuals feel more connected — which is especially important when workers are in various locations. Appreciation helps increase self-esteem, boost motivation, and keep spirits high, among other benefits.
Adding this kind of recognition to your remote team environment doesn't have to be complicated. It can be as simple as acknowledging people on the team during your daily meetings. If you want to go even farther than this, significant achievements could be rewarded with gift cards or other treats that will help keep productivity and motivation up.
There are other options that you can implement, depending on the culture of the company. For instance, you could set up a channel on the instant messaging system you use that is solely applied to give a shout out to employees who go above and beyond the requirements. Just keep in mind that it's important to keep the channel active if you go this route. Another option is Cheers For Peers from TINYpulse. It offers innovation options for providing immediate recognition and tracking data for incentives and annual recognition.
Improving morale isn't always easy when people are itching to get back to the office. But appreciation is a big part of the process. It can help promote loyalty to the company, which results in better engagement and superior customer satisfaction. It's a one-two punch since it makes high-achieving employees aware that you're paying attention while encouraging the rest of the team to work hard to excel.
Prioritize Virtual Learning
Many companies aren't considering that — while remote work is a necessity — workers should be assured that they can continue building their skills and developing their careers.
It might seem like a small thing with all the tragedy going on in the world right now. But it's also something that can boost your employees' morale. When there isn't any way to grow, employees can start to feel bored and stuck.
Add a sense of purpose to employees' lives by giving them the chance to work on their career goals. While in-person classes and sessions aren't going to be the right option, there are plenty of virtual learning opportunities to take advantage of. Whether you offer these yourself or simply provide resources so employees can pick and choose options that work for their needs, it can keep the workplace more positive.
Finding ways to grow a career and learn or improve on skills can be done in all sorts of places online. Ted Talks, YouTube instructional videos, and sites like Udemy with online courses can all help you ensure your team has the chance to grow even during a pandemic. It's just as essential to make sure you schedule in time for employees to take advantage of these options. It shows you care about their trajectory and want them to do well.
Show Trust and Allow Independence
When workers are doing tasks from home, it can be challenging to stop checking in on them at all times to ensure they're productive. However, micromanaging has many downfalls, so you should try to train yourself to avoid this state of mind and the activities it leads to.
Showing your employees that you trust them to get their work done, just like you would in an office environment, can help their morale.
Employees who feel trusted by their managers and superiors are more likely to be productive than workers who continuously feel watched. One of the ways to implement this is by providing assignments but letting workers choose when and how to do their work. Adding in time every week when the team can work on things that improve physical and mental health can also work with this morale-boosting tip.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that trust flows in both directions. When you offer trust and show honest leadership, your team is likely to be more satisfied. Only remote workers who trust their leadership are going to have the high morale you want to foster. An option for building trust is letting your team make some of the decisions that guide your work or the company as a whole.
Try having regular meetings where employees at all levels can have a part in decision making. Having an open-door policy is helpful, but it's not always enough. It can come off as less than genuine to some employees. When you make time for employees to share their opinions and thoughts, it clarifies that you care about them and their wellbeing.
Implement Team-building Activities
There's a reason that the largest companies implement a variety of team-building exercises and activities for their employees: It creates a motivated and collaborative culture in the workplace.
It can also help team problem-solving, create an environment for open and innovative discussion among peers, and enhance productivity. Team-building also works to boost morale — whether in an office or working from home.
The best way to ensure that team-building helps employees’ moods, rather than just feeling like more work, is by making the activities educational as well as entertaining. For instance, a trivia challenge or a scavenger hunt can be a lot of fun but revolve around skills that are important for day-to-day work. You might need to get creative with options that work at a distance, but it can be done.
Ask for and Act on Employee Feedback
The final critical factor in boosting remote employee morale is soliciting feedback from workers. When employees know that they are being listened to, it can cause them to be more motivated to do excellent work.
But what's even more critical in this case is showing that you are going to act on the feedback you get. While implementing each thing workers comment on isn't possible, at least make sure to acknowledge and thank them for bringing it to you.
While many businesses ask for feedback on an annual basis through an anonymous form or during performance reviews, that isn't enough to create the high employee morale you want for work-at-home employees. It's up to you how you want to implement a system for employees to offer feedback. What's important is that it's there and workers know they can use it whenever a problem comes up.
You never know; employees may even bring up issues you weren't aware of or offer solutions to problems that hadn't even thought about in the past. Each time you ask for feedback, it lets you make positive changes. Checking in with employees is more important than ever right now and short questionnaires can help with that process.
When you ask for feedback from workers, it shows that their thoughts are important to you. It also gives you the chance to show that issues are dealt with to create a better workplace for everyone. All of these things combined can create exceptional morale for employees, whether in an office or at home.
With so many people working from home due to the novel coronavirus, making changes to ensure high employee morale is a must. While you might already know how to do this with a physical team, things change when everyone is in a different location doing their work. It's also especially important to pay attention to morale since remote work can be isolating for many people and create loneliness.
As management, some of the ways you can help in the pursuit of employee morale are by streamlining communication, recognizing outstanding performance, setting out clear expectations, and building a positive company culture. The tips above will set you off on the right foot for making sure employees continue to succeed in a new type of work environment.
If you start to notice a drop in morale among your team members — whether that means less conversation, high turnover, or less collaboration — it's time to make changes to the workplace. However, it's even better to head things off early and make changes that prevent these situations from occurring.
Use the tips above to keep morale up as long as employees are working from home. By doing so, you’ll have a happier team that’s committed to doing their best work every day.