Crisis situations have a way of negatively affecting morale. While this is normal, reduced morale can be devastating to small businesses. As we continue to limit business activities in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, morale is becoming a bigger issue for companies. When people do start returning to work, there is likely to be an extended period of adjustment before things completely return to normal.
BenefitMall, a Dallas-based provider of payroll and benefits administration services, encourages companies to keep their employees engaged during the crisis. Whether employees have been laid off or are working from home, ongoing engagement can help them stay focused and patiently wait for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Adjust Staff Expectations
Employees working from home are in a somewhat better position in that they still have income and something to do with their time. Still, it is helpful to adjust expectations to account for the current situation. It is probably unreasonable for goals set in January to be pursued while employees are working under such extreme conditions.
By adjusting expectations, employers give their workers one less thing to worry about while simultaneously demonstrating their genuine concern. Individual expectations can be readjusted once things are up and running at top speed.
Work on Strengthening the Team
Major crises tend to cause people to come together in a more cooperative environment. Companies should take advantage of this tendency by working on strengthening their teams. There are many ways to do so, even when companies are dealing with furloughed or laid-off workers.
For example, regular electronic communications that encourage and support are a good starting place. Video conferencing sessions that allow employees to gather online just to talk things out can help as well. Employers can even encourage their workers to use electronic means to collaborate with one another in small groups. The goal is to find ways to encourage employees to come together even though they are not physically in the same place.
Share Personal Experiences
Not all of the collaboration between team members has to be centered around work tasks. It might be a good idea to encourage workers to share personal experiences as they adapt to working from home – or not working at all. Doing so is a way to encourage employees by helping them to realize that we are all in this together. The last thing employers want is for their workers to feel isolated or alone in their experiences.
Open and Honest Communication
Perhaps the most important thing employers can do to keep workers engaged is to communicate openly and honestly with them. The only thing that makes crises like COVID-19 worse is not knowing what is going on. Make no mistake about it, employees resent managers and company owners who withhold essential information from them.
People would rather know an uncomfortable truth than be told a comfortable truth only to find out reality at some point down the road. The old adage that says honesty is the best policy is as true today as it ever was. Honesty is what employees want; it is what they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
No one knows at this point how long the country will be dealing with COVID-19. Nor do we know the long-term impacts it will have on the economy. What we do know is that now is not the time for pointing fingers and bickering. Now is the time to engage with one another in the most positive way possible until we get through this.