Shared lunches, team outings, and birthday celebrations have one thing in common: they happen together. But with people confined to their homes as offices are slowly opening up, the workplace scene is likely to be quite different.
Employers have to rethink their employee motivation and engagement approaches because what probably worked before COVID-19 may no longer be feasible, especially since you have to encourage your employees to maintain adequate social distancing and follow all precautions even at the workplace.
Shared lunches and team outings may not be as enjoyable as earlier because you would want to limit the physical interactions.
Amidst such a scenario, employees’ motivation level goes into turmoil, and lack of motivation reduces employee engagement level, thereby impacting their productivity and decreasing employee retention.
In this article, we will discuss a few ways to keep your employees motivated after they return to the office.
7 Tips to Keep Your Employees Motivated in a Post Lockdown Environment
According to a report by Gallup, only 36% of employees are engaged in the workplace. With this statistic in mind, companies need to take employee motivation seriously. Here are seven practical ways of achieving it:
1. Focus on employee wellbeing
With studies showing that a wellness program can provide a return on investment, overlooking could be the difference between engaged and disengaged employees.
Wellbeing isn’t just about physical health. It’s more about how your job, duties, stress level, and environment affect your employee’s overall health and happiness. It entails mood, cognition, and factors like a sense of purpose.
Your employees spend most of their waking lives at the office, so businesses must prioritize employee wellbeing to foster employee satisfaction and productivity.
That’s why companies worldwide focus on providing wellbeing initiatives like health, financial and professional social, personal development, and work-life balance.
From making lunch break mandatory, reinforcing the benefits of taking sick leaves to starting employee recognition programs, and planning regular team-building activities, these initiatives will go a long way to create a motivated workforce in such an unprecedented time.
Interesting fact: 86% of employees prioritize health initiatives from their company, and 24% expect 24/7 access to health care professionals.
2. Offer counseling sessions
With more than one year of staying indoors and working from home, your employees will find it challenging to get back to their old schedule.
In such a situation, it’s normal for employees to feel left out, feel demotivated, and lose interest in their work due to a changing work environment. Furthermore, with the pandemic far from being over, employees may be hesitant to join back.
To answer your employee’s questions and eliminate their apprehension regarding joining back, it’s advisable to conduct counseling sessions. Also, work-focused psychotherapy is likely to help employees return to work, remove their fears, and prepare them to cope with the challenges they might face.
Counseling sessions are a great way to motivate employees and help them cope up with workplace dynamics.
Interesting fact: With every $1 a company invests in treating common mental illness through counseling and other medical processes, a company gets a return of $4 in improved employee productivity.
3. Offer financial help
COVID-19 has made life difficult for the families of 24% of employees because these employees witnessed a reduction in their income. When returning to work after the lockdown, you would like to ensure that your employees are supported in every possible way to keep them motivated and engaged.
That’s why providing financial assistance to your returning employees could be one of the best motivation factors. From offering debt counseling to assisting with money management, you can train and encourage employees to help them financially get back on their feet.
Interesting fact: With one in four workers reporting that financial worries adversely affect their ability to perform their duties, providing financial guidance and help can reduce stress and increase the happiness index of your employees.
4. Provide timely recognition
One of the easiest ways of engaging and motivating employees after the lockdown is by providing timely recognition of their work.
Employee recognition doesn’t have to be delivered in a fancy way. Saying “Good Job” for a work done exceptionally in front of everyone is a great motivator and enhances the employee’s morale.
When you appreciate employees for their efforts, they feel worthy, and it instills a sense of gratification and belonging. Interestingly, this sense of gratification fills employees with joy and happiness, which eventually translates into the zeal to achieve more.
Also, timely recognition of work may act as an inspiration for others. This can motivate them and inspire their team members to give their cent percent at work.
Interesting fact: Timely employee recognition can increase employee productivity, performance, and engagement by 14%.
5. Provide a flexible work schedule
As your employees are probably returning to the office after more than 18 months, they are used to enjoying a flexible work schedule and maintaining a healthy work balance. Expecting your employees to come out of this comfort zone within a few days of joining back is unrealistic.
Whether you like it or not, most of your employees would find it difficult to catch the unlock wagon. This is because they fear infection or are apprehensive about leaving their family at home or simply because they enjoy working remotely more than traveling to the office.
So, to motivate your employees to join with full enthusiasm, consider offering a flexible work schedule like remote work for two days and three days at the office.
Flexibility allows your employees to settle into their old work schedule faster and without facing any issues. These efforts from your end would gradually scale up their engagement levels.
6. Provide a safe environment
Another important way to boost the motivation and excitement level of an employee returning to the office is by providing a safe environment and removing their paranoia of getting infected while at work.
If possible, describe how you plan to make the workplace safe to work. Above all, your employees have to feel safe physically and mentally.
Apart from physical considerations, work towards creating a culture where employees don’t face the repercussions for expressing their feelings about heading back to work.
You can achieve this by creating a safety initiative policy and communicating it to your entire team. Your policy may include details regarding physical distancing, symptom checks, PPE requirements, testing, and enhanced cleaning and sanitization of the workplace.
Some other ways to make your employee feel safe and engaged are:
- Creating a COVID-19 response team for your office
- Frequently disinfecting common areas
- Installing hand sanitizer throughout your workplace
- Arranging for safe transportation medium like providing cabs and buses for travel
- Checking temperature of employees daily
Such safety initiatives from your end will motivate employees to return to a safe environment. They would no longer worry about the pandemic and concentrate more on their work.
Interesting statistic: 51% of employees expect social distancing requirements, and 45% of employees want detailed cleaning protocols when returning to work.
7. Provide your full support
Parents and guardians are trying hard to blend work and home remotely. They expect companies to provide child care benefits upon returning to the office in a post lockdown environment.
Providing a child care benefit may prove a costly burden initially but would deliver fruitful results in the long term. A child care benefit can become a motivating factor for employees who constantly fear the well-being of their children while they are at work.
To motivate your employees and increase their engagement level without levying a dent in your financials, focus on providing these child care benefits:
- Offer child care subsidies
- Foster a culture of flexible work schedule
- Provide a company-sponsored child care facility near the office
- Include backup child care assistance to deal with issues like school closing, a spouse getting sick, or other unprecedented events
- Offer a flexible child care spending account
Interesting fact: The job performance of 60% of employees who don’t receive child care benefits would increase if their company provides these benefits to them.
Motivating your employees
Returning to work after lockdown will be unusual, strange, and probably new. The sooner your employees adapt to this paradigm shift, the more engaged they will be at their work.
Interestingly, highly engaged employees are not those who come and leave the office on time. They are employees who feel good about what they are doing and perform to their best capabilities to finish a task as per expectations.
Such positive vibes will make your employees happy and replenish their motivation level.
That’s why companies worldwide never hesitate to invest in employee engagement programs, as it does more good than harm.
These seven strategies are a good place to start with and get back your employees in your old
How are you planning to keep your employees motivated and engaged?
Share your thoughts with us!
Priya Jain is a professional copywriter with 8 years of experience. She has an MBA and engineering degree. When she is not writing, you will find her teaching math, spending her day running behind her toddler, and trying new recipes. You can follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.