With the vaccine rolling out at a promising rate, companies across America are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel as they prepare for a mass return to physical workplaces in the not-so-distant future. This month marks the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, which has taken a toll on both management and employees alike – physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s no surprise that a recent study has found that 90% of HR professionals have expressed concern for boosting morale this year, with the return back to the office environment anticipated to be a huge challenge for employee engagement.
 

The pandemic’s toll on morale, by the numbers:

 
Is the pandemic causing your employees to burnout? A U.K. study found some staggering numbers about how working through the pandemic has negatively impacted mental health:
 

  • 51% of respondents said they have been working more than ever before.
  • 32% have said the lockdown has pushed them closer to burnout.
  • 27% indicated that a lack of social interaction has made working from home during this time especially difficult.
  • 69% of workers said their employer hasn’t offered ways to improve their work-life balance or well-being.

 
If your organization hasn’t strategized a game plan to improve employee morale, now is the time to do so. By ignoring employee sentiment, you not only cost your organization quality productivity every day, but you also risk losing some of your best employees.
 

How do we move forward from here?

Start with the leadership team

 
Teams with engaged managers are more likely to be engaged as well. To improve morale within your organization, start with the executive team. Your team is a reflection of yourself, so also examine your morale while in the workplace.
 
How is your communication with your leadership team? Are you providing them with the feedback and support they need to feel valued and respected? Are you focusing on wins and positive business announcements as you do when focusing on criticism and areas of improvement? Above all else, your employees are human beings that crave recognition and appreciation.
 
Having open lines of communication with your executive team also enables them to share any concerns or suggestions, which can help find some much-needed solutions. While remote work may change the way you communicate, it should not diminish the platform your leadership team needs to collaborate and share their feedback.
 

Create an ownership mentality

 
Do you encourage your employees to take ownership of their challenges? Or, do you tend to micromanage? Empower your employees with a culture of personal accountability, giving them the freedom to make things happen (and the necessary tools they need to succeed). Seek out their ideas, knowledge and insight on certain challenges, and delegate the authority – not just the work. Put a little trust in them and hold them accountable to own the solution. This power of making a difference can greatly increase job satisfaction.
 

Look for the good

 
There are always going to be challenges in your business. It is how you respond to them that sets the tone for your whole organization. If you help your team to see every challenge as an opportunity, you’ll help to maintain a positive outlook and create a mindset that fosters strong employee morale as well. “How can we…” is a phrase you should be using to find solutions.
 
Happy employees equal higher productivity and a more pleasant work environment for everyone. Low morale increases absenteeism and turnover while reducing productivity. If you’re sensing symptoms that your office has low morale, address it immediately. If you need help improving morale within your organization or redefining your business’s culture, contact me today.