Boosting staff morale in challenging times

Life can be challenging at times, and perhaps for many the last 18 months have been particularly difficult. Staying optimistic when life seems to continually throw obstacles in the way isn’t easy. Neither is keeping up engagement and motivation when it comes to work, life commitments and even self-care.

The pandemic has resulted in many changes to life and a general sense of uncertainty which has impacted productivity, mental wellbeing and even job satisfaction. While those who are employed feel grateful to be a part of the workforce, shifts in circumstances have affected work life balance and the way we can relax or utilise spare time.

Boosting morale and keeping one another feeling positive is important. Whether you’re in aged care, early childhood education or any sector, there are many strategies we can try as employers and co-workers to support those around us to push forward, stay productive and keep smiling.

Factors that impact employee morale

To understand how to help others when it comes to lifting spirits, it’s important to have a solid grasp of what might impact a person’s morale in the workplace as well as outside of it.

Here are a few key factors that could impact employee morale, with some related to the pandemic and others that can be affected more generally:

Shifting to online methods

People across every sector have had to get to know new technologies and get more comfortable with doing things via screens. Sometimes it can feel that these methods are tedious or time-consuming. In addition, learning to do something new can take time and effort.

Adjusting to new rules or guidelines

As well as moving to online and technology-based approaches, there have been a range of new guidelines to follow around the Covid-19 virus. Getting the hang of everything and learning to adjust can make people feel frustrated or overwhelmed. These includes stringent health precautions like mask-wearing, thorough cleaning requirements, staffing rules and more.

Juggling responsibilities

Life is full of commitments outside of work, which sometimes can be tricky to manage alongside employment. With Covid-19 in mind, many families are juggling working from home with children not able to attend school. This has put immense pressure on parents and carers, forcing them to make many timetables try to work together to varying degrees of success.

Disrupted routines

Many of us rely on routines to get the most from our days. The pandemic and resulting shifts in restrictions have meant usual schedules have been affected. This includes gym closures affecting disrupting exercise routines and feeling disconnected due to an inability to visit with friends and family.

When considering reasons for low morale in the workplace, it’s also important to consider whether issues could be stemming from within the place of employment. For example, unclear expectations, inconsistent reduced or extra working hours, workplace bullying, lack of support or recognition.

The impact of low spirits (and how to counter them)

Not only can reduced morale impact a person’s experience of and behaviour in the workplace, but it can extend to personal lives too.

Here are some signs that may indicate low morale in the workplace and beyond:

  • Poor performance:

    If a staff member is having trouble staying focused, they may have reduced productivity or performance in the workplace.

  • Lack of enthusiasm:

    Everyone has ‘off’ days, but when an employee is consistently unenthused about participating in the team at work, it’s cause for concern.

  • Lateness or absenteeism:

    While this behaviour may result in disciplinary action in the workplace, it’s also worth considering what may be causing this — could this person be in need of support or having difficulties?

  • Negative attitudes:

    Whether it’s an uncooperative mindset, continual fault-finding or outbursts and mood swings, negative attitudes can permeate a workplace and getting to the bottom of things is a must.

Countering these challenges and supporting your team’s morale and wellbeing is crucial for a thriving workplace. There are many things you can do to try to combat signs of reduced morale, even in the face of challenges that are beyond your control.

When boosting team morale and work satisfaction, try incorporating these approaches:

Offer recognition:

A little recognition goes a long way toward employee engagement and loyalty. Shout out people in the workplace when they do well and consider systems such as employee of the month.

Communicate and connect:

Stay in the loop of how your team is feeling with an open, two-way line of communication. Create times to chat and offer a variety of means, including phone, email or even a note.

Be compassionate:

While work is important, personal lives can be stressful or overwhelming at times. Showing compassion and empathy when your employees are unwell or going through a bad time makes them feel that their wellbeing is prioritised.

Support career goals:

Make it your goal to know employees’ career goals and do what you can to help them achieve them. Career growth contributes greatly to sense of worth and motivation on the job.

Supporting staff wellbeing and mental health

Sometimes a situation may need more help than you can directly offer. However, there is plenty of help and support available from a range of reliable, qualified sources.

As well as regularly letting your team know that there is support from within the workplace as needed, it’s worth also mentioning the availability of additional resources. You could display the numbers and websites for some key wellbeing and mental health support services in staff areas, so everyone knows that how they are feeling really matters.

We have compiled a selection of quality resources for health and wellbeing services below. Keep these resources in mind for yourself, or to share with others:

  • Lifeline Australia –  Provide access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
    Telephone: 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue – Provides information, and support for depression, anxiety and suicide prevention.
    Telephone1300 224 636
  • Headspace – Provides young people with information and resources on mental health, physical health, work and study support, and alcohol and other drug services.
    Telephone: 1800 650 890
  • 1800 Respect – Provides 24 hour support to people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
    Telephone: 1800 737 732
  • Mindspot – Provides free effective internet delivered psychological assessment and treatment for stress, anxiety, worry, depression, low mood, OCD and trauma (PTSD).
    Telephone: 1800 614 434
  • Kids Helpline – Provides private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
    Telephone: 1800 55 1800
  • National Debt Helpline – Helps people tackle their debt problems.
    Telephone: 1800 007 007


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