How to boost employee morale during times of uncertainty

By Robert Half 24th March 2020

During times of uncertainty, it’s important for managers to overcommunicate with their teams and keep them updated on the state of the business and operational plans. Remember to remain transparent, check in often, listen and ask for feedback. Otherwise, you could start to see a dip in employee morale.

Morale is high when workers are feeling optimistic — which in turn leads to a boost in productivity, better relationships with team members and managers, greater staff retention, stronger job performance and, yes, even laughter.

Managers can learn to spot potential morale issues and deal with them head-on. Here are some red flags to look for and suggestions on how to address them.

1. Changes in attitude

If you have unhappy employees on your team, it will show. Increased negativity, high or growing rates of absenteeism, and reduced cooperation or commitment can be all be a tip-off. Checking in with workers on a regular basis will help you gauge morale and address budding problems.

2. An active grapevine

When communication is scarce, gossip, misinformation and conflict flourish. Even if you have bad news to share or don’t have all the answers, honesty is still the best policy. The more team members can rely on accurate information, the less grist they’ll have for the rumour mill. Good communication will help turn the negative into positive.

3. Lack of initiative

Unmotivated employees go through the motions rather than taking an active seat at the table. As a manager, model behaviour that will foster an environment where teams take the initiative, demonstrate leadership and solve problems in creative ways. Not only will that improve employee morale at your company, but it will help your workforce thrive in any kind of economy.

4. Scarce rewards

Everyone wants to know their good work is respected and appreciated. Step up efforts to offer employee recognition with praise, low-cost awards and spot bonuses for accomplishments. Make rewards personal and give them as soon as possible after an achievement.

5. Poor performance

Low morale can quickly affect a team’s quality of work. Signs of trouble include missed deadlines, an increase in mistakes or a decline in service levels. Ask your team members if they feel burdened by the amount of work they have on their plate, and provide the support they need to be a success.

There’s no shortage of ways to improve staff morale, but actions should revolve around making workers feel valued and engaged. Revisit your policies and staff retention strategies, and take steps to build a work environment that will help employees feel motivated and happy to come to work every day.

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