In the workplace, as stress and uncertainty rise, morale among employees often falls.
In all industries, from entry-level workers to senior executives, these are challenging days for all employees. Personal and professional stresses are colliding like never before. As businesses reopen and adapt to a marketplace where restrictions and health-related requirements seemingly change by the hour, employees are rightly concerned about their employment status. Additionally, many parents are looking to the fall and wondering how and when their children will go back to school and how that will impact their ability to return to the workplace. On top of that, layer the general health and wellness concerns we all share: How safe is the workplace, what will happen to an employee’s position if they contract COVID-19, and should they risk their health for their job, especially if they or someone in their household is in a high-risk category?
The good news is we are all experiencing COVID-19 stresses and challenges together, and through this common experience comes understanding and a desire to help one another. While the nature and scope of the current challenge is greater than what we may have seen before, as employers, we are accustomed to navigating our organizations through uncertainty and change. As such, while we can’t banish all unrest among our employees, we want you to be well equipped to alleviate their stress to some degree and help maintain good morale.
We have an opportunity to bolster morale by asking ourselves some basic questions, none of which should be new or challenging:
- How effectively is the organization communicating with employees? Particularly in times of high stress and uncertainty, in the absence of information, employees will construct their own narrative. There is great value in supervisors, managers, and/or senior leadership being on the same page as their employees. Frequently sharing what you know is the best way to get everyone pulling in the same direction. It is critical to regularly address employee concerns and questions – even if not much has changed or we don’t have all the answers.
- Who is monitoring health and safety requirements and how is this information shared with employees? Your organization should frequently and openly share its plan for keeping employees as safe and healthy as possible. Employees need to know what is expected of them, what to expect from each other, and what to expect from the organization. Understanding and sharing proper protocols and processes for communicating health and safety concerns goes a long way toward establishing a comfort level among all employees.
- Who is responsible for keeping the lines of communication flowing between leaders and employees? Rapidly escalating concerns to the appropriate level within the organization, and conversely, responding in a timely manner to employee questions, can be an important and easy way for employees to know they are being heard.
- In what ways and through what channels are you communicating with employees? Every organization is unique just as every employee is unique. As such, there is not a universally “correct” way to communicate. But regularly and frequently employing a variety of forums ensures that employees know where and how to ask questions and receive answers.
- How are you communicating with remote employees and monitoring their morale? Many remote workers began telecommuting in March, and while they are settled in by now, it is still new to them. Do you know how they are doing? Do you know how well they are dealing with the change? Do you know how they feel about these changes?
- How are you addressing the morale of those regularly coming in to work? Especially in the case of employees who frequently interact with their co-workers or with the public, morale can be a significant challenge. Make sure you understand the risks your employees face and be sure to address those areas of concern.
- Do you have a recognition program? It’s always a good time to say “thank you.” Formalizing a program to ensure the organization is recognizing those doing a great job in a challenging time makes employees feel appreciated.
J.L. Nick & Associates is an experienced HR consulting partner that can help you build strategies for assessing and building employee morale. We bring experience, objectivity, and efficiency to the process of managing morale through organizational change and turbulence. We are a reliable and responsible business and human resources services partner and stand ready to help whenever and wherever you need us. Learn more about us by visiting our website (https://www.jlnick.com/).
Wishing you good health and success,
Mark E. Novad, Senior Partner
J. L. Nick & Associates, Inc.
724-674-0302 Mark E. Novad
814-449-8446 John L. Nick
814-449-8445 Scott L. Nick