As employers and employees get more comfortable with their new working environment, the focus of business leaders should be concentrating on maintaining employee morale and positive company culture in a remote environment.
As an employer, it is extremely important to focus on the well-being of employees, along with maintaining a positive working environment. This will enable staff, sometimes working alone for the first time, to thrive, which will in turn help company productivity and increase employee loyalty.
What is employee morale?
Employee morale is defined as the feeling of satisfaction, the employee's attitude and overall outlook towards their job and company. It is their feeling of value and worth within an organisation and how they feel an organisation treats them. An employee that is satisfied and motivated at a workplace usually tends to have higher morale than their counterparts.
Companies can maintain this morale through employee engagement, employee development and importantly, company culture. In a physical workplace, your culture is promoted through daily social interactions, team meetings, the work environment and company activities. The efforts a company makes to enrich and delight employees all feeds into employee morale and culture. But as the times are changing, this is not limited to the four walls of an organisation, that is office culture.
The impact of Positive Employee Morale
Firstly, it leads to an increase in productivity and efficiency in the organisation. When employees genuinely enjoy the work atmosphere, they are more focused to work more efficiently and productively.
Secondly, when employees have positive employee morale, they give the company a competitive edge.
How do I maintain employee morale when remote working?
Here at Harpers, our Management team have brainstormed together some of the ways we can boost employee morale when there is no physical company culture.
It is vital to create a culture that is felt and known by all employees, no matter their location. It is instilling the company values into every employee and their actions. In the remote environment, it is important to actively encourage one another to embody your company values in every interaction, with each other, your clients, suppliers and customers. This is hugely important for employees to understand and embrace the values of a company; not only does it give a sense of belonging and purpose, but it is also critical to upholding yourself to a moral standard during difficult times like these.
When working remotely, it is important for employees to know that their Managers and Senior Leaders are still there for them should they have any issues or need someone to help them through any queries or difficulties.
The key to staying connected while working remotely is to spend time with your staff. Although this may be virtually, it is about dedicating time to just them. If you already hold meetings or one-to-ones, it may be important to have these on more of a regular basis while working remotely.
Our advice would be to have these one-to-ones via video rather than voice calls to stay connected. By seeing each other’s body language and facial expressions, remote workers feel reassured, more comfortable and connected.
Be sure to spend some of that time not just talking about projects, deadlines or targets too. Showing an interest outside of work helps to build and maintain relationships with staff, it also shows you care about them as humans which in turn has a great effect on morale.
As a Manager, sometimes it can be hard to dedicate time when you are busy, but dedicating short regular contact throughout the day will encourage positive morale.
It is common practice in companies to hold daily or weekly team meetings and regular company updates, where everyone would be in attendance. These meetings are more critical than ever before. Have daily team meetings where you discuss the focus and tasks for the day. Try to keep these meetings first thing in the morning so it sets up all employees and management for the day. In turn, you should encourage each employee to speak about their day-to-day activities and aims for the working day ahead as well as praising individual team efforts.
As well as talking about the working day, it is also important to have a chat about general life outside of work to maintain your employee relationships and to have a bit of fun and laughter together!
Keeping up company meetings is important for inclusion, productivity and well being as well as maintaining a sense of structure and normality. Video conferencing software like Google Hangouts, MS Teams and Zoom are excellent to facilitate these meetings.
The value of casual idea sharing is often underestimated and is notably missed now that we are not physically in the same working space. Video conferencing is not plausible for each and every discussion point, but online chat tools like WhatsApp and Slack are ideal platforms for idea sharing and informal communication. It’s also a great way to communicate with cross-functional teams and promote inclusion.
In an office environment, you might have a break room or communal dining area where people can mingle and de-stress to keep morale high. As with business meetings, corporate activities and socials shouldn’t stop just because you are not together. If you have weekly drinks on a Thursday night, continue that virtually. Setting games or daily fun tasks is another way to stay connected in a non-work capacity or you could introduce a video call slot to allow employees to chat about their day over a cup of tea. The purpose is to retain connectivity and team mentality but it also positively impacts your employee's mental well-being. Working remotely can be lonely and isolating; knowing there are set fun tasks and team bonding opportunities can go a long way when it comes to employee engagement and morale.
For many companies, the requirement to work remotely came into force practically overnight. Many people may not have office space available to them, a lot will be creating makeshift workspaces at home. If your employee does not have a desk or chair consider making these available, either by borrowing from the office or purchasing something low cost for them to use during this time.
This is an uncertain time, with countless people worried about their jobs, particularly as there are so many unknowns. Ongoing internal communication is invaluable for employee morale. Regular updates on the health of the business, company updates, new protocols, customer feedback will help to alleviate fear and anxiety from a work perspective. Your employees will respect honesty while you work together to fix any issues.
For many, circumstances will have invariably changed; those with children for example. It’s important for companies to understand that these changes have an impact on how people work and when they are available to work. Appreciating these circumstances and where possible, creating new working arrangements such as flexible hours to suit these needs, will be hugely beneficial to both you and the employee.
In usual circumstances, 78% of employees spend more time with their colleagues than they do with their family. For many, close relationships and common interests with colleagues are formed. People underestimate the value of these relationships when they are suddenly apart. Pick a common interest that can be maintained virtually, for example, a book club or online game tournament.
When working remotely, it can be easy for employees to feel more stagnant in their career and feel that they’re lacking opportunities.
To keep morale high, create opportunities for your employees to be constantly learning and developing. E-learning is a great way to allow employees to dip in and out of training sessions whenever it works for them, and it can also fit around their personal remote working schedule.
Morale is boosted not only through learning new skills but also by knowing that their employer values and invests in them
We all know how an office birthday goes. You sit red-faced while your colleagues are strolling towards you, cake in hand, badly singing happy birthday. And as much as you might blush at the time, deep down you know a birthday wouldn't feel the same without it.
Small celebrations like these are also vital for morale.
Show your employees that you still care while working remotely. You can host virtual birthday celebrations, or just make sure that any occasion is thoroughly celebrated through your internal communication channels. This way you can ensure that all employees, no matter where they’re based, feel cared for by their team.
When your employees are not in the office, you can’t see if they are sitting at their desk – so it can be hard to tell if they are having their lunch away from their computer or a having well-deserved break.
Taking regular breaks throughout the day is important to keep productivity and morale high and disturbing your remote staff during this time can have a negative effect.
Encourage employees to take time for themselves throughout the day and introduce a system that lets teammates know when this is happening. When someone is taking a break, they could mark it in their calendar, change their status on their instant messenger or send a message to their team to let them know they’ll be unavailable.
When your people are well rested and recharged after an uninterrupted break, you’ll notice the difference in productivity and motivation.
Above are just some of the ideas you can introduce or improve in your company culture to boost your employees' morale. As a result, your people will feel supported, happier and more engaged.
Stay safe and keep positive,