Business NOT as Usual: 5 Ways to Rebuild Workplace Morale

As businesses across all Canadian provinces begin to cautiously open economies, everyone is preparing for the return to their workplace. Naturally, there’s much emphasis on how to maintain safety and manage resources, but it’s equally important not to lose sight of employee morale.

As of now, we are still months away from having in-person all-hands meetings, but there is still a lot of uncertainty about what comes next. Will there be a second wave of the virus? What will this summer season look like? When will we be able to travel to see out-of-province family and friends? Or hold funerals, weddings, baby showers, and graduations?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a human, economic, and social crisis. We are facing unprecedented global unemployment, with rates in Canada as high as 85% in tourist hubs. Employers need to consider the effects all these changes can have, particularly on employee morale. It’s natural for employees returning to the workplace to experience fears and anxieties. Understandably, an invisible reassuring smile underneath your layers of personal protective equipment (PPE) won’t be enough to ease their worries.

Here are 5 ways to rebuild workplace morale when business is not as usual:

1. Maintain flexibility
This is not the time to enforce rigid policies and procedures. Opt for a more flexible approach. Consider relaxing your dress code if you will not be hosting public visitors in your office – “Every day is casual Friday!”
2. Bring a pet to the office
Even if you’re not traditionally a pet-friendly workplace, animal companions can dramatically improve employee morale! Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of oxytocin, the stress-reducing hormone, while decreasing the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Just ensure that your office premise allows for animals and have a plan in place to care for the pets’ needs throughout the day.
3. Offer meaningful concierge services
Social distancing must be maintained in the lunchroom and best practice is not to share office treats. But consider arranging for food delivery or onsite pickup/drop off for dry cleaning. Even if employees need to pay for their own, the convenience of not having to visit another establishment while wearing in protective gear will be appreciated.
4. Have a ‘crazy hair’ day
Lighten the office mood with some quirky ideas. If crazy hair is not for you, consider a team spirit or jersey day and reminisce about the many social and sporting events we took for granted. It is widely known that fun at work can increase productivity and engagement. Hosting fun activities will help to boost work performance and productivity.
5. Don’t underestimate the power of old-school gratitude

Executive leaders should consider writing handwritten notes to thank their employees for their dedication and work ethic during these unprecedented times. Even the smallest gestures can improve morale, one size does not fit all! It doesn’t hurt to ask or survey employees for feedback on what free or low-cost incentives would make their life at work more enjoyable.

Through small steps such as these, rebuilding your workplace morale will be about having fun and showing appreciation. Just remember that is going to take some time. As we explore what “business not as usual” looks like together, we are here to help. David Aplin Group can provide clean and safe offices with temporary, contract, part-time, and full-time resources to bridge the gap as we all learn what our new normal will look like.

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