The economic impact of coronavirus will be substantial – there’s no getting away from that fact.
Millions have already lost their jobs, particularly in the events and hospitality sectors where UK businesses have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many employees who remain with their companies, meanwhile, have been placed on the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
And while this has added a layer of welcome protection to many of those workers during a hugely uncertain time, their longer-term prospects are certain to be causing worry and stress.
If members of your team have been placed on the job retention scheme, or they’ve continued to work through the pandemic, you could easily forgive them if their morale had taken a bit of a knock.
Keeping so-called ‘team spirit’ high has arguably never been harder for managers and company bosses.
After all, how do you maintain team spirit when your team can’t be together?
It can be done.
And these are the steps you should be taking to ensure your staff morale is maintained during the coronavirus pandemic?
Understanding your employees’ emotions
It’s highly likely your staff will have been through a whole host of emotions over the past three months.
One of the most difficult aspects of coronavirus to comprehend for many was the speed at which the virus changed everything we’re used to as human beings.
Put simply, it stamped all over routine and the basic human needs of self-fulfilment, esteem, belonging, safety and, for many, physiological contentment.
Not only that, the impact of experiencing such strong emotional change in such a short space of time means your employees will also have been through a major period of change.
This would hit anyone hard – and that’s before we even touch on the obvious health fears that come with a new virus such as COVID-19.
Boosting or maintaining your employees’ morale is possible during this crisis, but only if you understand what their emotions are at any given time.
Check out this article on ‘The Change Curve’, which is a really clear way of seeing how your employees’ emotions may have changed since March.
Keep communicating – but not too much
Communicating with your staff, whether they are on furlough leave or still working from home, is absolutely key during times of crisis.
But it’s also possible to over-communicate.
That’s where understanding where your employees are in Change Curve is helpful. Knowing this will mean you communicate effectively, but also know when to take a step back.
Make sure your staff communication is focused on the needs of each employee and not too heavy on ‘business speak’.
Be human and be empathetic and speak to those human needs that coronavirus has stamped all over.
Think about the channels you use to communicate with your staff, too.
There’s more on that below, but it’s likely that some staff will respond better to video calling and others may be more comfortable with email or WhatsApp.
Use the channels that work best for your team as individuals if you can.
Be honest with your staff
The worst thing is not knowing, isn’t it?
So, with that in mind, make sure you are transparent with your staff about what’s happening in the business and how things are shaping up.
As we said above, limit the ‘business speak’ where you can and try to focus on the needs of your team.
An anxious team is a team low on morale, so don’t let ambiguity on your part become anxiety in your staff.
Get everyone together
Of course, as we write this in the middle of May, you might not quite be in the position to bring your staff together again.
And after three months of constant video conferencing for those not on furlough leave, it’s fair to say your team might be feeling a bit ‘Zoomed out’.
At this stage of the pandemic, where we’re starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel, consider other ways for your team to be together when they can’t be together physically.
Slack is a great online communication platform that businesses use for staff workflow and alternative to long email threads.
But it’s also a great way for your staff to keep in touch when video calling is starting to wear thin.
Suggest, too, that your team sets up a WhatsApp or iMessage group so they can stay connected until they’re back together again.
Make the most of being back together when you are
When the only certainty during this pandemic has largely been uncertainty, it’s difficult to predict when the UK might return to some semblance of normality.
But businesses are, at the time of writing, starting to welcome some staff back to their offices and workplaces, with strict health and safety measures in place.
We’re starting to welcome back clients at our serviced office spaces in Bournemouth, with clear risk assessments undertaken in each of our town centre buildings, and we can’t wait to start seeing people again.
The past three months has been a time of great reflection for many business owners when it comes to their staff and the people who make their companies tick.
People are the most important part of any business.
Let’s make the most of each other and be the best we can be when this is all over.