Written by Gia Kazarian
As this global pandemic continues, so does a shift in company culture as a majority of corporate businesses are faced with a new challenge: keeping a positive ethos at the forefront of your culture while working remotely.
As an executive consultant focusing on leadership development, I’ve been seeing the “new normal” from both sides of company dynamics. Weekly 9 a.m. meetings have turned into 40-minute Zoom meetings, with plenty of grace given as toddlers enter the camera, dogs bark in the background and of course, double doses of coffee are poured. While this new wave does create a space for vulnerability and a deeper sense of human kindness, it also deeply affects each individual’s success.
It’s no secret that when employees are producing work at home, it’s common for them to feel isolated and unproductive, creating a decrease of personal interactions, coordination and management.
Let’s look at this from a psychological perspective. In my education from UCLA (undergrad) and NYU (Master’s) and professional work experiences, I’ve learned that when a crisis hits, life changes in what feels like an instant. Overnight, we fall down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — focusing primarily on the simple physiological needs of food, water, warmth and rest. The key word? Warmth.
I don’t mean warmth pertaining to temperature. Webster’s Dictionary defines warmth as “an emotional feeling — a feeling that only we can give, human to human.” As leaders, you have a responsibility to ensure that your employees’ needs are met so they can produce quality work. I refer to this as company morale.
According to Forbes magazine, employee morale is “the attitude, satisfaction and overall outlook of employees during their association with an organization of business.” Keeping company morale up during remote work is key to ensure an increase in productivity, quality, and efficiency while keeping team members satisfied, refreshed, and encouraged.
This also affects your company dynamics when it pertains to appeal — you’ll notice a new competitive edge as your team strategizes for new solutions, while attracting and retaining the top talent in your industry as turnover rate decreases.
So how do you as a leader make morale a priority, amidst all other challenges you’re being faced with? This may feel like a daunting task, and you’re right — business owners have a load of priorities right now as they run their organizations against extreme circumstances. However, these four simple implementations will create a greater impact, and in turn, a more productive and happy team.
- Communication is KEY
Streamlined communication is the foundation for positive company morale, and for remote efficiency. Transparent channels, honest feedback, and clear expectations will support your team as they navigate their new work environment.
- Be Flexible
For an employee, having a leader that is understanding will relieve feelings of stress, anxiety and frustration. Give space for your team members to flex their schedules — many of them are now balancing the role of teachers for children, and/or caretakers for family members, all while focusing on mental health.
- Pour into Individuals
Check in on your team to identify what each individual needs, and assess how you can support them. This could range from allowing them to take a day off, providing timely feedback for a moving project or even recognizing efforts in a public setting. Praising good work is motivating for everyone.
- Get Creative
While we may be social distancing, there is always room for fun. Planning a fun event, whether it be a Zoom Happy Hour or a social distance luncheon outside, will get creative juices flowing. Even brainstorming directly with your team day-to-day or asking for their input will remind them of the team atmosphere they might be missing.
I understand how this pandemic has significantly affected businesses — I myself have had to shift my 2020 strategy. In the last few weeks, I’ve gone through a complete rebrand in order to offer the most relevant services to my clients virtually. You’re not alone in this. As we all navigate this pandemic together, let’s do so with strong, thoughtful and positive leadership strategies at the forefront.