Managing Employee Morale in the Covid Era 0

MANAGING-EMPLOYEE-MORALE-IN-THE-COVID-ERA
There has been a sharp dip in employee morale during the COVID-19 and HR is at the forefront of finding ways of boosting morale and keeping employee motivation up. The challenges posed to employee morale and productivity by the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented, but leaders can help keep employee spirits up with the following tips.

The uncertainties hovering around us have had an adverse effect on employees’ morale and motivation. The initial stage of ’work from home’ brought euphoria, employees were happy about it; but as time progressed and ‘work from home’ became a norm it became difficult or rather a mixed bag for employees, and their morale and motivation took a nosedive.

2020 and 2021 can be fittingly called the COVID era. This period has been and continues to be a testing time for organisations – hitting HR Professionals in particular. In these times of uncertainty where business continuity is the first priority of organisations, Employee Morale is another area that needs serious attention.

As per Wikipedia, Employee Morale is the morale of employees in a workspace environment and is proven to have a direct impact on productivity. We have seen a sharp dip in employee morale during the COVID-19 era. The uncertainties hovering around us have had an adverse effect on employees’ morale and motivation.

The initial stage of ’work from home’ brought euphoria, employees were happy about it; but as time progressed and ‘work from home’ became a norm it became difficult or rather a mixed bag for employees, and their morale and motivation took a nosedive.

The personal and physical contact as it used to be in the office, became minimal. Line managers were looking up to HR to find ways and means to keep the morale and motivation of employees pepped up. However, HR managers were themselves grappling with multiple issues at work and keeping up the spirit of the employees was not their primary objective. They were focusing on transitioning employees from office to ‘work from home’. As mentioned earlier, initially, ’work from home’ was seen as a welcoming step which saw a surge in employee morale and motivation.

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It was only after a couple of months, say last year August/September that employees started facing the negative effects of ‘work from home’. Late and odd hours of work, continuous eye and mental fatigue, a feeling of isolation & loneliness, less productivity, serious health issues due to sedentary working, lack of trust between managers and subordinates, etc started creeping up and it was then that leaders and line managers started thinking of ‘Employee Morale and Motivation’ actively.

HR was again at the forefront and started focusing on finding ways and means of boosting morale and motivation of employees. Click To Tweet

HR was again at the forefront and started focusing on finding ways and means of boosting morale and motivation of employees. We saw a plethora of webinars, research papers, etc around Employee Morale. The standard morale boosters such as employee recognition, maintaining a good and cordial relationship with subordinates, salary and perks, job autonomy and independent decision making by employees, training was there and was being reinforced but these turned out to be hygiene factors for morale-boosting.

Efforts by managers to know more about employees’ personal likes and dislikes, hobbies and connecting one on one with them has been very encouraging. And with such endeavours, HR has managed to bridge the gap between managers and subordinates and boost morale.

There was a whole new set of workforce morale boosters that came to light and these have shown positive results in boosting morale and motivation of remote employees in the COVID era. Some of them according to me are mentioned below:

  1. Organizations’ decision to get employees and their families vaccinated for COVID. This small gesture has shown that organisations care for their employees and want their wellbeing and protection in these uncertain times. The amount of money involved is not much but it has led to a definite confidence building amongst the employees and is a positive indicator to enhance the morale of employees.
  2. COVID leaves and company support during the pandemic have been another morale booster. The amendment of the company leave policy and allowing paid leaves during quarantine of employees suffering from COVID has also boosted the morale of employees.
  3. Taking care of employees’ mental wellbeing by appointing Counsellors and Psychiatrists has been a great step in employee morale-boosting.
  4. Efforts by managers to know more about employees’ personal likes and dislikes, hobbies and connecting one on one with them has been very encouraging. And with such endeavours, HR has managed to bridge the gap between managers and subordinates and boost morale.
  5. Flexi work timings during ‘work from home’ have had a positive impact on the morale of employees
  6. Communication and more communication from leaders, virtual town halls, coffee breaks, personalized messages to key employees – these are a few more ways to champion employees’ morale.
  7. Creating team goals and fostering collaborations amongst teams is one more way in which organisations have worked to enhance the morale of employees.
  8. Providing technology, IT support, Laptops, Wi-Fi charges payment, digitization, etc. has won the confidence of employees and supported them in their work which in turn maintained or increased their productivity and boosted morale.
  9. Motivational storytelling by leaders to employees has additionally helped in moraleboosting.
  10. Managers reaching out to employees who are facing challenges in working from home due to any personal reason and helping them sort out their issues with the help of HR, boost the morale of the employees in this COVID era.
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The above 10 points according to me will help organisations in boosting the morale and motivation of employees. However, a word of caution – before formulating the policies for building up morale and motivation of the employees, HR Managers need to conduct structured anonymous surveys on employee morale and motivation, so that they can cater to the specific needs of the employees.

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Seasoned Human Resources Professional Subir Sinha is a seasoned HR professional with over 30 years of comprehensive experience in a variety of HR functions cutting across Manufacturing, ITeS, Retail, Telecom and FMCG industries. His keen areas of interest include talent acquisition and retention strategies, performance management, conflict resolution, government regulatory oversight, company-wide HR communication/coordination, talent management as well as succession planning. He also specialises in recruitment and selection of management staff, including senior management and functional heads, as well as campus selections, international hiring and mass scale hiring. Currently, he is a freelance Senior HR Consultant based in Delhi NCR helping SMEs/MSMEs and Startups set up robust HR systems and processes.

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