As we head into the final stretch of 2020, with another lockdown and a lot of uncertainties looming, coupled with a general sense of lack of motivation and what would usually be the start of festive cheers, it's more important, now than ever before, to look at how best to motivate your team. It's no surprise that employees are feeling disengaged, unmotivated and somewhat lonely, with face-to-face and social workplace time cut and being forced to work from home somewhat unexpectedly.
HR and leadership teams now need to think slightly out the box, away from the traditional ways of motivating their teams. Employees are dispersed now, with majority working from home, or with limited office hours. Team building, socializing, team drinks and office get-togethers may seem like something of the past. So, how can morale, motivation and passion be brought back in today's new norm?
Motivation is a chemical process which happens within all of us, in all spheres of our lives. It is linked to the reciprocal relationship between oxytocin and dopamine. This spurs the feeling of connectedness, energy and attachment. Oxytocin comes from our social connections with others, whereas dopamine is more closely related to enjoyment, feelings of trust and love. With this in mind, when employees are isolated and feel lonely and it's hard to see the bigger picture as to where they fit in, with a purpose, both these levels fluctuate and often dip and hence, motivation levels buckle. Covid-19 has cut of many of our social connections, both personally and professionally, leaving many of us feeling low, purposeless and bleak. It's harder to be / remain motivated, it's harder to be positive and aim for gold in your role, so to speak, when for many, it's just about surviving day by day.
1. Think small rather than large
We're in a time when acknowledging and recognising small achievements can and will go a long way! Being noticed and your milestone validated is one way to leapfrog an employee forward to do the next great thing. With budgets being cut and many management teams holding onto their proverbial pennies, this type of recognition doesn't need to break the bank. Recognition could be about getting a task done ahead of a deadline, coming up with creative initiatives or suggesting new ways to action a process. This can be done daily / weekly / monthly. Teams can nominate each other and the announcements can be done virtually, or on the intranet or a recognition platform. If an employee feels valued for the small things, they are very likely to continue being driven to do more, as they know it's not invisible and are valued.
All humans need connection, to feel part of a greater whole and that they are not isolated. When someone feels like they have others to connect with and relate to, they start to feel more purposeful and motivation levels start to rise. Currently, there's very little to no office banter, shaking hands, patting each other on the back. Companies need to make as many connection touch points available to all employees to keep them together and motivating each other. These can be virtual - on Zoom, MS Teams, Skype. Try encourage your teams to have their cameras on when talking as people connect more through visual interaction. They can be digital by allowing colleagues to send each other e-cards and special emails. With the lack of direct interaction, connection is more fundamental than before in order to maintain employee motivation.
3. Flexibility and flexi-time
Another effective and impactful way to motivate your employees during the tail end of 2020, is to offer flexibility and flexi-time within working schedules, especially those with children at home for an extended period of time. According to a workplace flexibility study by Workplace Trends, 75% of employees rated flexibility as their most important workplace benefit. This flexibility can be presented in so many different formats, by changing your team's working hours, be it starting earlier and finishing earlier or starting later to accommodate personal schedules such as school drop-offs. It could even extend to working shorter hours over the festive period, or having a half day off per week if work commitments permit. This is all very dependent on the company, the role and the busyness of the period. Whichever arrangement works best for the organisation will no doubt benefit, motivate and be meaningful for each and every employee, guaranteed.
4. Abort crisis mode
Yes, we are living through a global pandemic and many of us are functioning in flight, fright or freeze mode. This is natural as our frontal lobes tend to shut down in order to survive. And it is completely understandable why leaders and business owners go into panic style managing; however, this further aggravates and creates more panic and anxiety throughout the corporate hierarchy. If there are crisis-management plans in place, then a lot of uncertainties and fears can be ironed out. The guessing game of 'what if' can cause a lot of damage between employees and is counter-productive for motivating your teams when they most need it. Employers can put their employees' wellbeing first and minds at ease by offering EAPs, open-door policies, online forums and so on. Transparent communication is key when trying to abort any crisis, and with an existential crisis at hand, companies need to communicate what they know, if any changes to business as usual as promptly and clearly as possible. Motivation is dead when total fear and the unknown takes over, so businesses can play their role as best as possible.
5. Fun, fun, fun!
2020 has downplayed a lot of the fun, light-hearted feelings within work. Employees sit anxiously worrying about what the future holds, often demotivated when working solely alone. So managers can up the fun. Create weekly themed playlists and get your team to suggest songs and let everyone list to the same playlist. Create a virtual bake-off where team members need to show case their best Christmas cake. If budget permits, send your team a Deliveroo e-voucher and all have dinner together. Get a local bakery to send scones and share a high tea at the close of the week. The options are endless when it comes to virtual fun.
So, how are you planning on motivating your employees for the remainder of 2020? What initiatives have you put in place that are working and motivating?
Xexec understands the importance of employee motivation and engagement, especially during times of crisis. Get in touch to find out how we can help you with engaging your workforce as 2020 draws to an end and into 2021.