The past couple months have been an emotional (and logistical) whirlwind for many workers, to say the least. With millions more people suddenly working from home—sometimes with kids, spouses and other household members at home as well—it’s a whole new working experience.
What are business owners doing to boost employee morale in this challenging environment while keeping their team connected and collaborative? We asked them their strategies for engaging their workers; here’s how they responded:
Holding daily video meetings
My company went fully remote several weeks ago, and I knew that our team would feel anxiety and stress both with what’s going on in the world and with working from home. The first thing I instituted was full-team video meetings using Google Hangouts every morning at 9:30 a.m. I do a roll call, and everyone shares how they’re feeling, what they’re working on for the day and what they need help with. We all have our cameras on, so we can see each other’s faces and check on each other. I’ve also instituted “#pjFriday,” where they can show up to our morning meeting in pajamas (as some probably already were).
—Eric Elkins , CEO, WideFoc.us Social Media, Denver
Making a personal connection
I’ve been sending weekly emails to every employee, sharing personal and professional notes from my life and inquiring about updates on their end. This gives them a private opportunity to share what’s affecting them mentally or physically, so I can figure out how to help. Also, every week we have a team-bonding experience—whether a virtual happy hour, trivia or a book club discussion.
—Lauren Izaks , co-owner and COO, All Points Public Relations, Deerfield, Illinois
Setting up a private Facebook group
We are a 45-person cleaning service currently closed by the governor’s orders. We stay engaged with our team through a private Facebook Group, where we check on them regularly, ask for pictures of what they are doing with their free time, play silly games and “celebrate” birthdays and anniversaries since we can’t be together in person. I also record video updates for my team weekly where I let them know where we are at and what we are working on behind the scenes for when we reopen, as well as share resources I have found.
—Laura Smith, owner, All Star Cleaning Services, Fort Collins, Colorado
Sharing new ideas
We have started a “free-idea Friday.” As we’re all barreling through our week, each employee agrees to jot down any great ideas that they see, read or hear about. Maybe it’s a great concept, a good email they received or a quality webinar presentation they sat in on. It’s a collection of ideas, and we hold a roundtable where we go through our favorites. No matter how crazy it may seem, if it catches your attention, you jot it down and share. We are a creative agency and this can help play a little bit of “creative eye-spy” that keeps up interaction.
—Andres Giraldo, founder and managing partner, The Skyline Agency, Dallas
I am doing a lot of little things to keep up my employees’ morale right now, especially as we’ve lost some clients recently. My employees are my family, and I need to support them in this difficult time. I sent everyone “work from home” pajamas and am sending them weekly care packages. We have also added a Zoom happy hour at the end of each week to decompress and check in. While we still are very much working for our clients, it’s really important that I’m checking in on my employees’ well-being.
—Samantha Martin, CEO, Media Maison, New York City
Using instant messaging to stay connected
My law firm went fully remote in 2018. Because of that, the COVID-19 crisis has had almost no effect on our day-to-day operations, other than moving all of our in-person client appointments to a 100% virtual platform. However, I could sense that my team members were nervous and struggling with suddenly having children home 24/7, becoming teachers for their children, feeling overwhelmed and wondering when life would return to normal. The first thing we did was start using an instant messaging platform called Discord that stays up all day on the team members’ computers and lets them feel at least a bit more connected to each other. It allows for quick “hellos” and check-ins and gives a visual cue as to who is online, helping team members to feel less alone.
—Chelsie Lamie, founder,Personal Injury Law Office of Chelsie M. Lamie, P.A., Clearwater, Florida
Doing online games and activities
One popular policy we enacted recently was ending our meetings five minutes early to take on some form of activity, whether it be jumping jacks or pushups. We found that it’s a good way to change, keep energy high and refresh our minds, all while helping with productivity. On Fridays, starting at 3:30 p.m., we also play online games together. Recently, we had a competitive typing tournament, which was a hit.
—Neal Taparia, co-founder, Solitaired, New York City
Being flexible—and compassionate
I don’t think it’s realistic to expect perfection during this time. I understand that being stuck at home affects productivity, and I sympathize with that. If we need to push a deadline because a team member stayed up late with their child, that’s acceptable to me. Everyone needs to work together during this tough time.
—Andrew Helling, founder, REthority.com, Omaha, Nebraska
What has your business done to engage employees in recent weeks? Share your insights in the comments section below.
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