How To Motivate Employees During The Coronavirus Crisis

*Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be construed as legal, financial or tax advice. Please always consult a knowledgeable professional advisor. *

UK businesses have had a challenging year—particularly those in the retail, hospitality, and service sectors, which have been strongly impacted by social distancing and lockdown restrictions. However, now that coronavirus lockdown restrictions have started to ease, businesses are reopening, and cash flow is starting to get back on track, another ongoing challenge has arisen—keeping staff motivated.

Here is some coronavirus advice for employees to help keep your staff motivated during the coronavirus crisis:

Make their safety your first priority

No one wants to feel unsafe when they come to work, and outbreaks of coronavirus in the workplace have made frontline staff feel even more exposed. One of the main employer’s responsibilities for coronavirus is putting staff health and safety first during this difficult time. Ensure your frontline employees are properly supported with the appropriate safety equipment, hand sanitiser, and any relevant coronavirus business support training (for instance, the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 online training or the British Safety Councils’ return to work guides).

Be empathetic to their personal situations

People are struggling with many different changes to their personal situations during this period—whether it be looking after children, loneliness, or having their hours reduced at work. Consider allowing flexibility in their hours so that they can address new challenges and manage their work. You could also send helpful articles and coronavirus resources from management to motivate employees working remotely and help them stay connected.

Other than the basic coronavirus advice for employers, there are other, more personal ways to show empathy towards your staff. It could be to give complimentary leave periods for rest and recuperation if it is feasible for your business or to send care packages to those who could benefit from one. Empathy from managers has also been strongly linked to job performance—for instance, a study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that empathy is positively correlated with job performance, and managers who show empathy are seen to be higher performers by employees.

Check in regularly from a social perspective

Coronavirus in the workplace has certainly changed how we interact with employees. But, it’s important to not completely forget about the social aspects of a workplace. It could be daily stand up meetings, or Friday night pub quiz over a video call—find some ways to keep employees social and motivated that are still within the social distancing guidelines. It’s important that employees stay connected with one another and feel like a team through the pandemic.

Communicate changes clearly

You’ve probably noticed a pattern with our coronavirus advice for employers, and that is to maintain communication. Update employees on changes to the business as a result of the restrictions, or, where appropriate, how the economic impacts may change the direction of the business moving forward. Ways to do this could be a company-wide email, all-hands video conference, small team meetings with Zoom, or using messaging technology such as Slack to stay connected. While weekly emails might be relevant during rapid change, they may need to be less frequent as life adjusts and changes slow down.

Show an interest in their professional development

Remote working or a change in the economic health of your business can make developing people professionally more difficult, or less of a priority. However, commitment to professional development will always be top of mind for your employees, especially at a time that has caused a lot of reflection about their career path and employment. Speak to them about their goals and how you can help them develop and facilitate their development during this challenging time, whether it’s through personal or professional goals.

If you have employees working remotely - introduce ‘play, purpose and potential’

A study by the Harvard Business Review surveying 20,000 workers around the world at 50 major companies found that overall, working remotely was less motivating for people. They identified three factors that negatively impact motivation: emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. Three factors they found that motivated people were play (the joy found in work, such as problem-solving with colleagues), purpose (visibility of the impact of their work), and potential (connecting with other colleagues to teach and develop them). These factors are significantly impacted by working remotely, as the social aspect of work is somewhat removed.

However, we have some coronavirus advice for employers to introduce these back into the working environment—like organising social events over a video call, showing commitment to professional development, and communicating the value of their work. Giving people the opportunity to experiment and solve problems that really matter can also help with motivation.

Reward people that are doing great work

Even during coronavirus, in the workplace some people are going above and beyond. They may feel that now, more than ever, they are not appreciated for the work they’re doing. When you recognise an employee for their good work, it will have a huge impact on their productivity. Some ideas of how to do this include sending a team email to call out someone’s great work, having a monthly prize for an ‘above and beyond’ moment, or just telling someone when they’re doing a good job. The new normal is anything but normal, but the best coronavirus advice for employers is to make sure that you are consistently communicating and recognising your staff’s contributions

Want even more tips? Here are some coronavirus business support guides:

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