At the beginning of Summer 2021, company leaders were hopeful that employees would return to the office. However, with COVID-19 cases surging once again, and cold and flu season around the corner, those prospects are seeming less and less likely. As a result, employees are back to feeling burnt out and company culture is suffering. For management and human resources teams, a question that arises is “how do we boost team morale while operating remotely?”
Traditionally, team morale was kept strong by attributing credit to employees for a job well done or by hosting social events, such as happy hours and the like. Not only has social distancing and the ‘work from home culture’ made these traditional methods tough to execute, but employees are also experiencing additional hardships outside of work as a result of the long-lasting pandemic. In short, traditional methods are no longer enough to keep morale high.
What hurts team morale
Team morale is often affected by both internal and external variables. While it is not in your power to control the world outside of the workplace, there is much that can be done internally to help. Being mindful of what commonly hurts team morale is a good place to start.
- Poor leadership. Your company’s leadership team is a major player in improving company culture and team morale. How your leaders act in their positions and how they treat their team is going to directly impact employee morale and satisfaction. When leaders are overbearing, condescending, or entirely absent, employees will feel undervalued and unappreciated.
- Lack of opportunities. Employee retention is on a decline as employees become more ambitious and goal-driven. When there is a lack of opportunity for growth and development internally, employees will seek it elsewhere.
- Poor company culture. Company culture and team morale go hand in hand. When one suffers, so does the other. If your company’s culture is based on a weak mission, is tainted by negative attitudes, or is simply nonexistent, you cannot hope to have strong morale. Both aspects must be in sync.
Boosting team morale
Now that we’ve explained the obstacles standing in the way of having strong team morale, it’s time to explore how we can increase it.
Make team morale and culture a priority
As with most changes, nothing is done until it is made a priority by everyone involved. When discussing how to boost morale, the conversation should be happening between human resources and company executives.
If your team is struggling to get management on board, try the following:
- Gather employee feedback and suggestions
- Use human resources technology to track employee productivity
- Evaluate your company’s culture against your competitors by pulling company reviews from Glassdoor
If leadership will not listen to your plea, having internal data available is a great way to support your argument. And if that doesn’t work, showing them where your competitors have you beat may help to light that fire you’ll need to get the process started.
Align the company’s mission with what matters to employees
Employee feedback is crucial to helping your employees feel heard and appreciated, which is why we have already mentioned it twice. If you want your employees to show up every day excited and full of purpose, it is helpful to have the company mission aligned with what your employees feel passionate about. In order to accomplish this, it’s helpful to first know what matters to your employees.
Once you’ve gathered enough information from your employees, you have to act on it. For instance, if many of your employees want to work for an environmentally conscious company, consider what changes can be made towards that value (if that is the case, read this article).
At the same time, it’s important for your team to actually follow through on these changes and be consistent. It isn’t enough to make changes that make employees feel good—the changes should do real good. To understand what we mean, check out our interview with Fossil Group’s Vice President Diversity & Inclusion.
Create opportunities for growth
As previously mentioned, two detriments to strong team morale are poor leadership and lack of opportunities. When we say you need to create opportunities for growth, we are not just referring to opportunities for employees. These opportunities should be for your team members as well as for leadership.
When it comes to learning and development for employees, most methods are straightforward and employees are typically excited about the opportunity. Although, if lack of motivation is an issue, you can refer to this article. You can host guest speakers, webinars, and more. However, leaders may be more difficult when it comes to on-the-job learning.
If your leadership team is less than enthusiastic about learning, you can at least make sure they’ve read this article on effective actions to lead remote teams.
Promote socialization and collaboration
As previously mentioned, team social events used to be a major part of keeping employees satisfied and happy. Socialization took a heavy hit during this pandemic. As a result, many employees began feeling alienated from their teams.
Now, it is quite common for employees to only interact when they have to. No more water cooler chats or after-work happy hours. Promoting socialization and collaboration remotely helps team members feel connected and comfortable, which often results in increased productivity and output. Consider hosting virtual team-building events, such as virtual happy hours or game nights to build stronger relationships amongst employees.
Encourage a healthy work-life balance
One of the buzzwords to come out of 2020 and 2021 was burnout. While working from home, it has not been uncommon for employees to work longer hours due to the decrease in the divide between home and work. Employees literally bring their work home with them because there’s nowhere else to take it!
If you want your employees to avoid feeling burnt out each week, encourage a healthy work-life balance. You can do this by:
- Encouraging employees to shut down their work by a certain time
- Offering paid vacation time and/or mental health days
- Giving employees paid lunch hours
- Checking in on employees regularly
The pandemic has been tough on everyone, and we as a society are continuing to trudge on. However, it has permanently changed how we operate in the workplace. As a result, traditional methods are growing obsolete and we must adapt in order to have success as a company and as individuals.
We hope the advice outlined in this article is helpful for your and your team to boost morale. If you have additional suggestions, leave us a comment!