knowledge | 25 March 2020

COVID-19: Employer’s Guide to Boosting Employee Morale and Wellbeing During Covid-19

As a result of recent developments and with an increase in remote working and government requests for individuals to social distance, employee morale is rapidly declining. Many employees face new challenges and may find themselves overwhelmed with the change to their normal routine, which stems from a variety of factors including remote working, children being home and general uncertainty and worry.  We have set out some tips below for employers to boost employee morale and wellbeing during this difficult time.

1. Keep employees informed 

It is essential that employers keep in regular contact with their employees throughout this period of uncertainty.  Email communications should be clear and concise focusing on important pieces of information that will keep employees up to date.  Employers should also consider implementing regular team check-in meetings via video or conference call.  At the start of each meeting dedicate a specific amount of time for social conversation, this will allow employees to reconnect.  Consider whether team WhatsApp groups should be set-up to allow employees quickly keep in touch.

2. Promote work-life balance 

Acknowledge that employees may find it difficult to adjust to remote working and that they may find themselves more distracted than normal with additional home responsibilities.  Encourage employees to establish a new working routine, which should incorporate regular small breaks during the working day.  If employees are used to a daily commute suggest that they use this time to get some exercise before starting their working day.  Ensure that employees know that they are not expected to work additional hours and that they should switch-off once their working day is over.

3. Ask for feedback 

While for many employers the introduction of remote working for their workforce may be unprecedented, suggestions from employees should be welcomed.  While employees may not be physically present in the office, they may still have opinions over how the business is operating and how it could be improved.  Asking for feedback also helps employees know that their thoughts are valued and when any issues are addressed as a result of feedback. 

4. Introduce employee recognition and rewards 

Employers should ensure that they recognise and reward individuals or teams who are making significant contributions, show extra effort or deliver beyond expectations.  This can boost employee morale and reassure employees that their work is valued.  Employers may consider introducing a weekly email, which can be circulated to employees highlighting these achievements.

5. Be flexible and empathetic 

Where the nature of the business allows for flexibility, employers should consider allowing employees to vary their working hours to suit their new arrangements.  For some employees being able to work before their children are awake or after they have been put to bed will be enormously beneficial.  Employees’ productivity levels when they are free from distraction will also benefit employers.  Employers could also consider introducing set core hours that all employees must be available at but allow employees to work their additional hours at other times convenient for them.

6. Employee Assistance Programmes 

Employers should consider introducing an Employee Assistance Programme (“EAP”) which offers free and confidential supports to employees. EAPs are generally available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and are accessible by phone, email and online.  EAPs are designed to help employees with a wide range of work, family and personal issues.  Employees who have access to an EAP tend to have better performance and motivation than employees who do not have access to an EAP.  Employers will also benefit from a healthier and more productive workforce. 

The Employment, Pensions and Incentives Group at McCann FitzGerald can assist organisations with any queries on remote working in the context of Covid-19, and in developing its response strategy, drafting communications and policies, and advising on specific risk situations as required.

Also contributed by Aoife Clarke and Emma McDonnell

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This briefing is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. Such advice should always be taken before acting on any of the matters discussed.

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