During the COVID-19 pandemic, the switch to largely remote workplaces has been dubbed “The Great Work-from-Home Experiment.” The transition to virtual work has introduced a number of challenges in terms of organization and workflow, but one of the less obvious problem areas is employee morale.
Morale is critical for productivity, retention, and communications. Without the community-building and informal feedback opportunities present in a shared workspace, company leadership must be creative and proactive with employee morale.
The Necessity of Providing Feedback
A key aspect of morale is providing frequent, constructive feedback. Providing regular feedback strengthens connections between employees and leaders, while setting expectations and giving affirmation. In a shared workspace, this may be as simple as saying, “great work on that report” at the water cooler. In a remote work environment, however, opportunities for feedback may slip through the cracks
One solution to provide consistent feedback is to build feedback into the workflow. For example, leadership can add feedback to basic confirmation emails. Instead of “Got it. Thanks!” a constructive reply might read, “Got it. I appreciate your attention to detail on this.” Even small cues like this can provide much needed guidance and affirmation.
Company leadership may also opt to schedule feedback sessions. These meetings may be scheduled monthly or quarterly – for the sake of consistency – or to coincide with the end of projects or assignments. These meetings should be implemented carefully to avoid causing undue stress or worry. Scheduling these meetings over the phone can give leadership an opportunity to set the tone of the meeting and mimic a casual office conversation
- Even during videoconferencing, vocal and physical cues can be lost. Frequently asking “does this make sense?” can help overcome that barrier.
- Convey your availability. While on-site employees may sense an opportunity to ask for feedback, remote employees may feel intrusive asking questions. Setting aside even an hour each week as “office hours” can make employees feel heard and valued.
- Incentives can be used to create friendly competition or create teambuilding opportunities to fill social gaps in remote workspaces.
While work-from-home situations can feel disconnected or isolated, SDC CPAs (formerly Studler Doyle and Company) believes this does not have to be the case. Small actions and process changes can make a great impact on employee morale.