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Keeping Employee Morale Up During the Pandemic Crisis

March 27, 2020

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

With Governor Whitmer’s new executive order, any non-essential employees are now working remotely where possible.  Employees are experiencing great stress during this time.  As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on our nation, it’s important for employers to find ways to boost morale.

Below are some ways to keep teams motivated, connected, and productive.

1. Host Virtual Company-Wide Video Updates
Hosting weekly or periodic video conferences to keep employees up to date on COVID-19 facts and how it is affecting your organization is essential. Leaders can do a lot to calm nerves by sharing not only current facts but also the things that they are working on to help employees and their families cope.

2. Virtual Coffee Breaks
Leverage video conferences to have virtual coffee breaks or happy hours.  It’s important to maintain that social connection with employees.

3. Thank Employees
Let your employees know that you realize this is a stressful time and appreciate their efforts.  While remote work was growing in popularity, most were not expecting to work from home full-time, much less with every family member home with them.  Thank your employees for their efforts during this time.

A recent study by National Research Group (NRG) uncovered generational sentiment surrounding remote working, as well as the social, cultural, and financial impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

“And just like that…the future of work is here, drawing every country, industry, and age group into a huge experiment. Already, our research reveals big divides in terms of what different demographics want from our remote work reality. It’s up to us to design better experiences and solutions, fast, that bring us closer together, now that we’re farther apart,” says Jon Penn, CEO of National Research Group.

Findings from the survey include:

Productivity – 50% of Gen Z professionals (+12% above average) feel they are less productive when they work from home compared to coming into the office. 51% of Gen Z professionals (+5% above average) cite that they are more distracted when they work from home. This group is also the most challenged by their environmental or technical set-up, with 43% (+8% above average) responding that they don’t have the necessary equipment/resources to do their jobs remotely. This feedback is crucial for employers to prioritize proper infrastructure, as well as manage remote working productivity expectations.

Social and cultural impact – The study also reveals that younger generations are more concerned about the cultural impact of Coronavirus, with 71% of Gen Z (+6% above average) and 67% of Millennials (+2% above average) expressing concern around how we communicate with one another.  Gen Z respondents are the most concerned audience about social distancing, with 46% of Gen Z (+4% above average) believing more people working from home will make our society more isolated.

Economic and environmental impact – Nearly 3 in 4 (74%) professionals believe COVID-19 will impact financial markets: led by services/hospitality industries (e.g., retail and shopping, entertainment and events, food and dining, spa and fitness, travel and lodging) at 77%, who are feeling the biggest hit due to current legislation/closures.

The survey revealed the most polarizing pain points, with the future workforce struggling most. These are:

  1. Irritation from too much screen time (23% Gen Z vs 11% Gen X), ahead of other technical issues such as bad Wi-Fi or poor audio/video quality during calls.

  2. Bad work-life balance while working at home (21% Gen Z vs 15% Gen X), ahead of other productivity pain points such as difficulty to convey thoughts over email/chat or feeling less engaged with other collaborators.

  3. Can’t find a quiet place to take calls (18% Gen Z vs 10% Gen X), ahead of other environmental set-up barriers such as not having a good space to work at home or a quiet place to take calls.

In addition, the survey revealed the top three pain points during this time, which are consistent across all generations:

  1. Easily distracted while working at home 

  2. Loneliness from missed social interaction 

  3. Wish they had access to the devices I have at work 

It’s important for employers to realize the stress that all employees are under during this time. Some suggestions for helping employees keep their morale up include:

  • Virtual events: Participate in industry forums through remote conferences/forums, meeting new people, or entertaining clients digitally with engaging alternatives to in-person meet-ups.

  • Document/record memories: Capture photos/videos of what you’re experiencing and share with friends and colleagues.

  • Learn something new: Many museums and science centers are offering virtual tours.  Encourage employees to take advantage of these learning opportunities.

  • Quiet Time: Encourage mental breaks and setting aside quiet time for meditation or journaling each day.  Even a 10-minute walk outside can lift the mood and clear the mind.

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