This year has impacted people and business on a global scale in ways no one could have predicted. Now more than ever, our mental health is being challenged in ways which adapting to the new normal is crucial and leaning into our core values is necessary. Positive workplace culture has proven to be an essential element for our employees. As this year comes to a close, we as leaders continue to navigate through this confusing moment in time. We are challenged [and responsible] to maintain a healthy workplace environment as the global workforce continues to evolve and adapt.
According to recent research at Harvard Business School, working remotely increases employee productivity, reduces turnover, and lowers organizational costs. These are all positive impacts of working remotely, however there are some challenging impacts of having a remote workforce. As a leader, you will need to anticipate the professional and emotional needs of your employees.
It is nearly impossible to avoid the emotional needs of your employees right now. Not only are they adapting to the "new normal", many may be dealing with the emotional and mental stress brought on by the pandemic. According to a recent article by The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, if you are not careful, productivity can decrease due to more distractions, the absence of interaction with fellow employees, and complete social isolation.
Not quite sure how to tackle this newfound territory? Read on to learn 3 things your employees need from you right now.
On a typical day when working from the office, employees average working 7.9 hours a day, according to a 2019 news release from The U.S. Department of Labor. 40 hours, 5 days out of the week - it is safe to say employees spend more time working with fellow employees than engaging in leisure activities with friends or family. After spending this much time at work, employees are bound to start viewing each other as more than close acquaintances. Take away the natural interaction between your work team, and you are left with an empty emotional void. Communication is required in a professional setting, but as we continue to work remotely, it is now necessary. Make an extra effort to communicate with your team. Ask how the family is holding up, make sure they are practicing self-care, and reassure them that you not only care about them as an employee but as a person, as well.
As leaders, you are aware of your impact as a powerful force in the workplace. That overly eager employee ready to compliment you at any given moment, the overachiever longing for your attention, and the slight fear in all of your employees because, well, you sign their paycheck. While it is never encouraged to abuse this said power, it does leave you with an opportunity to not only lead but inspire your team. Employees need reassurance that they are a valued team member. Receiving a compliment, especially from a leader, releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with motivation, focus, and positivity and, in turn, motivates your employees to do well again, according to an article by Kwik Learning. So, let your employees know you notice them, you care, and you are pleased to have them as part of your team.
It has become more challenging to maintain office morale as the workplace continues to evolve and adapt. You may have distributed teams or full remote teams, whichever it is, there is a lack of company happy hours, holiday parties, birthday celebrations, and those office perks, employees miss. These are important concepts in continuing productivity. With tech masterpieces like Zoom and Slack, it helps preserve office morale with the ability to share funny pictures and chat from anywhere, anytime. I challenge you to take it up a notch. Not able to have a holiday party this year? Send personalized gifts to your employees. Are you missing those birthday celebrations in the office? Deliver a fun birthday surprise to the birthday boy or girl. Each office is different, so what works for one may not work for another but making an effort to boost morale will be much appreciated and valued by your team.
This year has left many of us feeling out of control, uncertain, challenged, and frustrated, but there is a silver lining. You have been given the opportunity to adapt and thrive now and into the future.