Maintaining Employee Morale During Disruptive Times

There seems to be no doubt that the global business climate at this time can be classified as disruptive! For most, it’s unclear where the path to business recovery lies. However, sooner or later, businesses will re-open or return to pre-pandemic practices and employees will return to a workplace in some form or another.

Today, many businesses are operating with a workforce that is dealing with constant constraints. And while employee engagement was a high priority previously, it could be even more important today. employeemorale

For us in the hardwood lumber industry, we have been working hard to continue to keep the level of employee morale as high as possible. We understand that our talented workforce is among our key assets, so it’s always important to understand the challenges and difficulties they face. The stronger our relationship, the more productive employees tend to be. A few of the things we have found helpful are as follows. Maybe they will be helpful to you as well. 

Address employee concerns. Like everyone else, employees feel the strains of our socially isolated world. Many have parental concerns, as well as financial and related challenges to cope with, in addition to the work performed for your business. For this reason, business leaders should demonstrate patience and compassion where their workforce is concerned.  

One way to stay on top of what’s happening with your workforce is to ask them. The US Chamber of Commerce suggests “setting up an employee engagement survey … to understand the general mood within your remote workforce.” Craft a survey with a series of open-ended questions and encourage employees to respond. Hopefully, you’ll get a more comprehensive sense of what you might need to address, and other concerns that offer a fuller picture of the level of employee engagement. 

Employ video to stay connected. In addition to texts, emails, and other forms of digital communications, video is a strong tool for keeping pace with what’s happening in your workforce. It’s a good idea to keep a regular schedule of recorded video updates or conference calls to help your employees feel connected. 

Encourage employees to take care of themselves. This is a stressful time for everyone, so encouraging employees to adopt stress-relief habits (exercise, better eating, etc.) can result in improved morale. Suggest that employees “reach out to loved ones, use humor, do physical activity and eat well to nourish their bodies,” advises Cathleen Swody, founding partner of Thrive Leadership. “Ask ‘what’s working for you?’ or ‘what’s your best tip for staying in a good frame of mind?’” You might get some surprising and genuinely creative ideas that will benefit others in the workforce. 

Resist the urge to micromanage. As we have noted elsewhere, micromanaging in the workplace only serves to stifle individual creativity and ambition. “Even if your intentions are right—that is, closely following the work of a productive employee in order to ensure the best results—most efforts at micromanagement tend to undermine morale and output.” 

So whether you are managing a team of foresters, hardwood lumber experts, or sawmill employees try to focus on keeping your team's morale high. It might just make everyone feel better about the ongoing situation and your business even more successful! 

What other ideas do you have? Let us know!

Tony Cimorelli
Baillie Lumber
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