1. Prioritize and vocalize employee mental health.
Employee mental health has been a hot-button issue lately, and for good reason. Employers can help their teams maintain good mental health by expanding their employee mental health benefits and educating their employees on how to take advantage of them.
For example, you could encourage employees to take time off, offer mental health days, allow flexible work schedules, and expand on formal healthcare benefits programs. You can also encourage employees to draw a line between their work and personal lives by asking them to avoid checking emails after work hours.
“Be transparent about what the company offers in terms of mental, emotional and physical support,” Patrick Porter, neuroscience expert and creator of BrainTap, told Business News Daily. “As employees feel their needs are met and that their employers understand them, employees will feel more committed to their companies and more positive and focused on their work.”
Be sure to clearly communicate what your mental health resources and policies are, and encourage employees to take advantage of them.
2. Foster a workplace culture of open communication, frequent check-ins and anonymous feedback.
Communication is a key element of a productive workforce with high employee morale. Although how you communicate with your team may have changed over the year (e.g., using virtual platforms instead of talking in person), its importance has not diminished.
Business leaders should be frequently checking in with team members, conducting employee surveys and encouraging employee feedback. Another great addition is to offer a way for employees to provide anonymous feedback. Thoughtfully address any feedback you receive to ensure your team feels heard and understood.
3. Talk with each employee to reestablish their needs and expectations.
Your team members have faced changes in both their professional and personal lives in 2020, and that should be acknowledged.
“Employers need to be conscious that their employees have likely gone through a period of transformation – their needs, desires and motivators may have shifted in 2020,” said Freddie Laker, founding partner of Chameleon Collective. “It will be important for managers to take the time to speak to each employee and reestablish what drives employees.”
Instead of assuming your team has the same needs as they did the prior year, discuss this with each member of your staff. Although every employee is unique, you can identify common themes in what they say to modify your organizational practices and boost employee morale.
4. Offer positive feedback and employee recognition.
The success of your business is, in no small part, due to the efforts of your employees – and they should be reminded of that. Even if your team’s productivity has decreased over the past year, it is important to highlight their wins. Offer positive feedback on what they’re doing well, and remind them of the important role they play in helping the company achieve its goals. Recognition can serve as motivation to stay productive and engaged.
“Reinforce the positive impact of their work on their customers or other stakeholders,” said Josh Rovner, business consultant and author of Unbreak the System. “Remind them that what they’re doing makes people happy (or makes peoples’ lives easier or better).”
5. Practice reassurance and understanding.
If your business has undergone changes over the past year (which it likely has), your employees may feel overwhelmed or burned out. Instead of letting these feelings fester, reassure your team by explaining the reason behind each change, and show them how each change can work in their favor. With that being said, adjusting to change does take time. If your employees continue to feel burned out, talk to them to find a solution.
“It’s really important to talk about burnout openly and reassure your people that your goal is never to burn them out,” Rovner said. “Tell them that if they’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, they need to speak up so you can help them problem-solve. Then, you just have to make sure you follow through on that.”