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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Tips for Boosting Employee Morale and Motivation Alongside COVID-19

Written By: Carol Roth | Comments Off on Tips for Boosting Employee Morale and Motivation Alongside COVID-19

Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses have had to overcome so many extra challenges, especially regarding getting employees to come back to work, boosting employee morale once they’re there and keeping employees motivated, even if they’re working remotely. So, we have asked the incredible CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to share their own best tips for increasing employee motivation and morale. Their answers are presented below, in no particular order.

You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.

1. Encourage Openness and Honesty

In a time of so much uncertainty and change, employees want to know that you care and that they are valued. As they begin to transition back into the workplace, give them the space to provide open and honest feedback. Whether that's in sharing how they feel about new procedures and protocols, or in expressing their own concerns and uncertainties - prioritizing the mental health of your employees will make all the difference between a smooth or a difficult transition.
Thanks to: Vickie Pierre of AutoInsurance.org.

2. Be a Role Model

Right now, what workers require is guidance and interaction during all this confusion and anxiety. Employees are looking for advice and encouragement from their leaders, particularly when the emotions are running high. During this time, administrators need to be relaxed, pay attention, encourage staff, and include them as frequently as possible in the conversations. Don't step back from taking responsibility or talking; people need details and need affirmation in a moment like this.
Thanks to: Vikram Tarugu of Detox of South Florida.

3. Weekly "Cheers" Meeting

From the start of the pandemic, we have been conducting weekly team zoom meetings in which we don't discuss work but rather, chat as if we were on a summer patio. Sometimes, drinks are welcome and we all cheers from our respective homes. It's important to maintain a connection between employees, and to continue to feel like a 'team'. It's important to hear about others' personal experiences during this time and connect on a personal level. We have other earmarked time to address work related matters.
Thanks to: Shira Kalfa of Kalfa Law.

4. Show That You Care!

We sent all of our employees a care package where they received food for their family, coffee, and lots of company swag. We are sending a second package with some more goodies, including some branded face masks, more sanitizers, cleaning supplies, and important information about how to get back to work safely. Weekly, we email our team with lots of updates and motivate them as much as we can from afar.
Thanks to: Jennifer Barnes of Optima Office.

5. Silver Linings of COVID-19

Show your team the silver linings of working in isolation to keep them motivated. Make them aware of the perks of working from home, such as following no dress code and spending more time with your family in this alarming situation.

Make them reassured that working from home in isolation will not only allow them to avoid less interaction with people, but also allows them to look after their family. Moreover, I always urge my team to listen to motivational lectures and read books while working.
Thanks to: Rameez Ghayas Usmani of PureVPN.

6. We MUST Re-Onboard Employees

Over the last 120 days or so, there have been changes big and small in your company. Now is the time to bring people together, in a round table format, to identify what has changed in terms of communication methods, policies, procedures and work arrangements and talk about it. Decide what has worked, what has not and get rid of any sacred cows that are holding people back from moving forward. Now is the time to gain opinions from all staff and be ready to pivot. That is how you move forward!
Thanks to: Ben Baker of Your Brand Marketing.

7. Thriving With Measurable Tasks

At Latana, we're all about data, but also about a positive and friendly workspace. Keep your employees happy by assigning small, measurable tasks, but also leave enough space for creativity. People love to have the freedom to do things their own way, and this is essential in a collective workspace.
Thanks to: Joy Corkery of Latana.

8. Amazing Opportunity

The way we are staying motivated during the pandemic is that we are viewing this as the opportunity of a lifetime. What better time to buckle down and get a ton of stuff done that we wouldn't have had the time for if things had stayed the same. We are not taking this time off or lightly one bit. We are actually working more and going to hit the ground running once this is all over. Instead of sleeping in, getting fat, and going on vacations, we are training, eating right, and staying fit!
Thanks to: Ben Walker of Transcription Outsourcing, LLC.

9. Happiness In a Box

Keeping employees engaged and connected is especially important when they are physically apart from each other. During the COVID-19 pandemic, employee safety has been our number one concern, but we also want to make sure that people still feel like they’re part of the group. Each month, our company sends out care packages filled with snacks, masks, wellness products, and fun surprises. These packages have increased employee happiness and created an experience that we can all share together.
Thanks to: Sam Olmsted of DC Social.

10. Encourage Breaks and Balance

As employees adjust to working from home, many may find their work-life balance blurred. It's easy to work through lunch, work late, and remain available during off hours when working from home. But, this can quickly lead to burnout.

Encourage employees to maintain a good work-life balance and take breaks as needed. We've found success in implementing an optional weekly yoga hour where employees can take a break and stretch together. We also offer a weekly virtual happy hour our workers love.
Thanks to: Lauren Walter of Optimistic San Jose Marketing.

11. Let Them Shine!

The difficult times such as we are facing now are the best opportunity for a drastic change in how we work. If you used to be micromanaging and monitoring every step of your employees, now is the time to motivate them by allowing them to take responsibility and deliver their best.

Step back, take a look at your business and what your team members best at. Capitalize on their strengths and help them show their bright sides in the most appropriate tasks and areas of responsibility.
Thanks to: Maksym Podsolonko of EventBiz Planning Courses.

12. Flexibility and Empathy Wins

Pandemic or not, most of our team already works remotely. While they don't have to physically come into our office, their families and schedules are still affected. Their daycares are closed, there's uncertainty with the coming school year, and people are juggling parenting while also working. We communicate with our team regularly through group and one-on-one Zoom meetings. Based on these meetings, we've set up new SOPs that are flexible in order to help during these unprecedented times.
Thanks to: Ilir Salihi of GrooveFan.

13. Be Attentive and Compassionate

Anyone holding a leadership position at their company need to be attentive to their employees' needs and compassionate about the struggles we are all currently dealing with. Leaders of the company should be consistently reaching out to their employees, letting them know that they have people there for them during these tough times. Leaders should also be hosting some type of virtual get together at least once a month to maintain a sense a sense of community and boost company moral.
Thanks to: Tracy Julien of BioClarity.

14. Post-COVID Morale

Small businesses have been hit hard during the COVID crisis. Fortunately, one of the hallmarks of small business owners is resiliency. Small business owners must remember they are resilient and be willing to see opportunity during this time. What we focus on expands. If you focus on the challenges this crisis has caused, you'll miss opportunities. Consider reminding your staff to explore, experiment and increase their knowledge during this time. This can generate a new perspective.
Thanks to: Royce King of Your Startup Coach.

15. Dance Party Energy

Music is magic. It can completely transform someone's level of energy and happiness. At least once a day, offer a Dance Party at work by playing upbeat, fun music. You could even supply goofy hats, pom poms, and other props that everyone could use to go crazy while the music plays.

Everyone in the office has probably been sitting at their desk for way too long, so it's a fun way to get a little exercise and get people stretching and moving.

If you have to be at work, make it fun!
Thanks to: Dr. Trina Boice of From Book 2 Business.

16. Stop Managing, Start Coaching

Managers must take off the management hat and put up the coaching hat. Just like 1 on 1s, managers must create a series of coaching 1 on 1 meetings where they help their employees redefine their own values, personal missions and get clear on their purpose. This makes the employee feel more valuable as a human being, beyond being an asset or employee of the company. In addition, employees are encouraged to share their mission, values and purpose to create connections with everyone on the team.
Thanks to: Mo Hariri of mohariri.com.

17. The Power of Adaptability

Showing adaptability is crucial for management at all levels to serve as an example for their employees during difficult times such as these. Many companies have made changes that are completely new to everyone, whether interacting with coworkers remotely or leading client meetings in a virtual setting. Let your employees see that you’re hopeful and that success stories come from resilience and adaptability.
Thanks to: Isaac Lauritsen of Fort Worth SEO Services.

18. Bonding Over Virtual Games

The pandemic has brought about unprecedented changes, including extensive isolation from other people. Tampa Digital Marketing, which once had a vibrant in-office culture, rapidly had to deploy strategies to keep our staff connected remotely. One such strategy is devoting an hour every Friday to playing virtual games in small video chat groups. These gaming hours are a welcome opportunity for staff to bond with one another outside of the confines of work, while safely remaining in their homes.
Thanks to: Anna Tatelman of Tampa Digital Marketing.

19. Connect During Happy Hour

As a small tight knit team, working away from the office came with its own set of challenges. After all, one of our core values is that Screens Will Not Replace Handshakes so we had to adapt, just like everyone else. By implementing happy hour every Friday, our team was able to connect again and bring back the social aspect of work. Giving everyone the time to unwind and talk about their week really helps us to feel like part of a team again — even if we are working in isolation.
Thanks to: Irene Lopez of NYC Marketing Agency.

20. Care Packages During COVID-19

Maintaining motivation and morale throughout COVID-19 requires business leaders and managers to go the extra mile to support each other and their employees. While work from home orders are still in place, sending small, thoughtful care packages to your employees can brighten their day and remind them of your workplace culture while away from the office. These small gestures can encourage employees to continue their great work and be prepared for an eventual return to the office.
Thanks to: Casey Dawson of Atlanta Digital Marketing.

21. Be Flexible

Recognize that the procedures need to be flexible and less strict. With either workers having to separate themselves because of disadvantages or parents trying to balance employment with raising children now that schools are shutting down, show your concern with the different situations and circumstances wherein your staff find themselves. Since many employees are being forced to work remotely from home, employers should trust that their employees will do their jobs outside of the office.
Thanks to: Lesley Reynolds of Harley Street Skin Clinic.

22. Health Care Package

Employees are gradually returning to work as the lockdown eases. Providing them all with the health care package they deserve is the best way to motivate them at this time of COVID-19 Pandemic. Small businesses should ensure that the health care packages employees deserve are paid. This will boost their morale in putting in their best at work, since they know that their health care has been taken care of.
Thanks to: Chuks Chukwuemeka of DepreneurDigest.

23. Own Any Uncertainty

Your team is bound to be concerned for the future, and it’s vital that you don’t carry on as if there's nothing wrong.

Even if your intention is to keep your team motivated and on task, it’s crucial that any uncertainty your business may be facing is tackled head-on and isn’t repressed or ignored.

Keeping any anxieties to yourself certainly doesn’t mean that your employees will do the same, and that is a sure-fire way to tank morale.

Instead, face up to the realities.
Thanks to: Tim Cook of Versatile.

24. This Too Shall Pass...

I tell my team members that this situation is temporary. I tell them it will pass and that those who stuck with their goals, while adapting to the situation will come out on top when this crisis ends.

I tell them the world belongs to the strong and that ultimate strength is first facing fear and uncertainty, and then doing what you want and need to do, despite of it.

I can tell this motivational talk works, because I notice they feel more relaxed and are able to focus on their work more.
Thanks to: Nikola Roza of SEO for the Poor and Determined.

25. Reassurance

For us, the thing which has really kept morale up while working through lockdown has been reassurance from management.

Our MD communicates regularly with us and is honest about the business, our developments and the impact of Covid-19. Throughout this, he has reassured us regularly that the company will meet its objectives and when deadlines have changed, what these will be. This encouragement and clear communication has instilled confidence and trust, as well as boosting morale.
Thanks to: Gude Hudson-Gool of Watermark Homes.

26. Safety and Security

During such trying times, it is important to keep staff happy and motivated. One way to keep employees motivated is to keep them safe and keep them feeling secure during this pandemic. The company has to invest in safety precautions such as check-ups, alcohol, sanitation facilities, and regular meetings to discuss any issues in regard to the work set up. Being equipped and ready to face the pandemic is a sure way to keep employees motivated to keep working.
Thanks to: David Meltzer of East Insurance Group.

27. Peace of Mind

Staff morale can greatly influence a company's success. To establish high morale, there must be strong communication between the employees and upper management. When employees know they are being listened to, it gives them a sense of calm. With open communication, productivity will also increase since people will not think about any bad rumors and be free from distraction. It is only when a company is willing to listen to its employees that it can start fixing their concerns.
Thanks to: Nathan Robinson of Life Insurance Star.

28. Don't Forget to Take Breaks

One of the most important parts of staying motivated for work, especially from home, is knowing how to balance time at the computer and away from your desk. During the coronavirus pandemic, our team has shifted to an entirely remote setup, so it’s been important to keep our standard office hours and to encourage all employees to take their regular lunch breaks. This helps prevent burnout and ensures that our team doesn’t feel like they are always on the clock.
Thanks to: Charlie Tatum of Denver Web Design.

29. Food Glorious Food

I have found that providing coffee and donuts in the morning is a good motivator for increased performance from our sales team. Sometimes, motivation is very simple and doesn't require complex incentive structure. Occasionally, we will even offer a nicer spread with bagels and lox and high end bakery goods. Food is a very powerful motivator.
Thanks to: David Reischer of LegalAdvice.com Corp.

30. Taco Tuesday!

My tip for boosting morale during the COVID-19 pandemic is to hold a weekly "Taco Tuesday." Tuesdays are the perfect day of the week to get your team out of the doldrums with something they can look forward to. Every Tuesday, I cater lunch for the team from a killer Mexican joint around the corner. We munch on tacos and catch up on both personal and business issues. This little respite early in the week keeps the team excited and lifts everyone's spirits.
Thanks to: John Ross of TestPrepReviews.com.

31. Get Them Laughing

One way we boost morale and motivation at WeyMedia is with humor. We meet regularly as a team over zoom to discuss our goals and how well we're achieving them. And making the team laugh (sometimes at your own expense) can lighten the mood, bond the team, and keep everyone smiling.
Thanks to: Stephen Weyman of WeyMedia Inc.

32. Focus on Work, Not Obstacle

Focus on the work that still must be done and not on the obstacle. Remind your tribe that this is just another obstacle and because they have been set apart for greatness, our character does not change. This pandemic does not change who we are as a company, our mission, and who the tribe member is as a worker. Navigation through this is key. Continuing this message keeps the morale up and reminds the tribe of who they are and what they are set out to do.
Thanks to: Kaylynn Evans of Vineyard Bluffton.

33. Listening with Grace

Employers must gracefully listen. The only universally common experience that every employee is facing right now is quick and rapid change. For example, just yesterday I found out my mom has COVID-19. Obviously, this impacts my morale at work. I’m now much less inclined to be near people. My boss could interpret that as laziness wanting to stay working from home. If my boss decides to actively listen now, s/he can empathize and exercise grace to find a solution where I can work and feel safe.
Thanks to: Alexander Noren of Forgeant.

34. Daily COVID "Handshakes"

Whether on video meetings or in person with masks, employees create a 3-part movement greeting for the day. This is then shared as a secret, morale-boosting way of greeting each other on calls or passing in the halls. Maybe it’s a nod, shimmy, clap one day and shoulder shrug, chicken flap, jazz hands another! The goofier the better to foster connection, laughter, and make employees look forward to the start of the day. Whoever thought your Macarena moves would come in handy?
Thanks to: Alison Henderson of Moving Image Consulting LLC.

35. Celebrate Your Wins!

Employee morale has been at an all-time low for many businesses in 2020, due to the effects of working from home and COVID-19. The best tip we have found for boosting employee morale has been to acknowledge our ‘weekly wins’ as a team. These are discussed in our team meetings, providing the team with an outlet for celebrating the small wins. This has allowed us to boost employee morale and keep motivation high in these difficult circumstances.
Thanks to: Nick Farnborough of Clavis Social.

36. Virtual Coffee Breaks

Remote working restricts the quality face-face time employees have with each other, which can weaken the interpersonal relationships between the teams, affects morale and is a detriment to teamwork. To combat this, we have implemented a morning and an afternoon coffee hangout/break, to make up for this missing social interaction. It has worked out great and is the best way to replicate the spontaneous and fun conversations that would be taking place in the office that we are all missing.
Thanks to: Ethan Taub of Loanry.

37. Solopreneur Motivation Re-Set

This year is a bit much, isn't it? We naively thought that #quarantinelife was temporary, and it's been more than 100 days, and we still have miles to go. So, stop looking at this as time to endure - it's real life 2020. If you're thinking you'll get back to normal when life gets back to normal, you're missing the point. Right now is the perfect time to let go of what isn't serving you, to dive into what is calling you, to level up. Sure, it's messy, but that's life. Play your own game.
Thanks to: Kristi Andrus of Kristi Andrus.

38. We Created a Culture Committee

We focus on employee appreciation in a number of ways, and we are always trying to improve our employee’s work environment. One of the best things we’ve done is to create a new position called the "Director of Happiness". The main goal of this position is to increase engagement from employees and to enhance our company’s culture. As a result of COVID-19, we've morphed this role into the Culture Committee so that more team members could participate.
Thanks to: Brian Lim of iHeartRaves.

39. Be More Sensitive

The lack of compassion in one's workplace is reflective of unconscious bias. By being more sensitive to the current social climate, employees can feel that their welfare is also a priority. So, when employers consider diversity and inclusion, significant cultural shifts can take place. As a CEO, I advocate ordering food from black-owned restaurants delivered to our staff to inspire everyone to take care of each other during this period. It's time we raise the morale of our communities together.
Thanks to: Michael Hamelburger of The Bottom Line Group.

40. We Do a Monthly Town Hall

We are doing virtual happy hours and they've been a big hit! Most recently, we did a Town Hall meeting where we “catered” lunch for each employee by emailing them a $15 gift card to Uber Eats. The way it worked was everyone ordered their food and then joined in on the Zoom call. We put up a presentation by sharing screens on Zoom, and each team was spotlighted to speak about their slides. We talked about wins for the month for each team and gave individual team member recognition.
Thanks to: Brandon Chopp of INTO THE AM.

41. Come Up with In-office Games

What has been instrumental for us is when we started implementing changes in our employee engagement activities. From simple surveys, we've come up with in-office activities that have helped our staff know more about our culture. Our ultimate favorite team building exercise is the DIY Craft Challenge. This 40-minute activity ignites the creative side of our team members. It may be a simple activity, but it has improved the mood in the office, especially now that the pandemic isn't over yet.
Thanks to: Finn Cardiff of Beachgoer.

42. Boosting Morale In a Pinch

Encouraging communication during this pandemic to empower people to take initiative at work, leaders are finding new ways to reward workers. Acknowledgement, security, and recognition during COVID-19 is more important than providing raises and promotions. Authentic leaders are taking a personal approach, as people feel an extraordinary amount of pressure during these hard times. Vulnerability is contagious, and only hope can be placed on the forefront, as leaders focus on a better future.
Thanks to: Dr. Michael Provitera of Motivational Leadership Training.

43. Fuel Self-esteem, Not Finance

Feeling valued is much more motivating than just getting money. We are always looking to praise our team for anything they achieve.

Every month I write a company-wide email, showcasing each staff member, what they have been working on and what they have achieved. The goal is to make everyone feel seen and appreciated.

In an industry where staff turnover is rife, we never lose staff. We constantly are told how much everyone loves working in this supportive, inclusive environment.
Thanks to: Joshua Strawczynski of JMarketing Agency.

44. Splitting Commissions!

When COVID arrived, we transitioned all of our team members (including admin) from salary to a commissioned pay model. Our initial motivation was decreasing salary risk, but we quickly learned that this was very motivating for our best team members. A few quit, but the ones who stayed have been more motivated and excited than ever! Every time we sell a house, the team gets so excited to receive their piece of the pie and they are much more focused on activities that actually move the needle now.
Thanks to: John Gluch of Gluch Group.

45. Care Package

A great little morale booster for your employees is to send them a care package. It can include anything from snacks, coffee, or tea to Amazon gift cards. It shows the employees well-being is still being considered and the nice gesture will surely be appreciated by the employees.
Thanks to: Katie Fellenz of Trust & Will.

46. Be Creative

What I have noticed is that the staff seems not interested into finally being able to work again.
Instead of being strict and all, I motivate them by asking them to dress up in their most protective gear every day. It's funny how some would dress in costumes only to assure they remain safe. My best tip to business owners is to be more creative in creating activities or implementing new protocols. This will not only boost their morale, but improve their mental health, as well.
Thanks to: Willie Greer of The Product Analyst.

47. Sharing Our Passion Virtually

To keep team morale up, we’re focusing on a common joy and passion that everyone on our team shares: fitness. We’re a fitness company and we all find solace and motivation in moving our bodies and staying active.

The way we’ve started sharing our love of fitness to motivate and bring together our team is by setting up bi-weekly, 15 minute virtual wellness sessions. Team members take turns leading sessions allowing us to try a variety of activities and discover more about each other.
Thanks to: Tyler Read of PTPioneer.

48. Aerobics and Team Lunches

In my business, we have started doing daily morning aerobics classes and weekly team lunches (while maintaining social distancing!). What my employees missed most while working from home is social interaction with their colleagues and just laughing at each other through the day. Our activities encourage employees to come into work every day and boosted our morale in the midst of the crisis as we create a light-hearted mood in the office talking about which aerobics video we're doing.
Thanks to: Foster Mendez of Spear Mortgage.

49. Reward Tasks, Not Time

With the need for our employees to work from home, we had to think of a way to keep the whole team motivated. As it was no longer easy to track time on tasks or time in the office, we have moved to reward tasks, not time.

Rewarding with bonuses, time-off, early marks, etc., has meant employees working from home have a drive to finish the tasks faster, rather than just watching the clock.
Thanks to: Brogan Renshaw of Firewire Digital.

50. Hold Team Building Activities

One easy way to motivate your employees is to organize team-building activities. The goal is to encourage employees to get to know each other better and to forge camaraderie. Experts suggest that such activities reduce tension and stress in the workplace. It also inspires employees to collaborate more and to share insightful hacks. Engaging meetings, team collaboration games, tea meetings, spin-the-wheel games and outdoor scavenger hunts are a few examples of effective teambuilding activities.
Thanks to: Chioma Iwunze of Time Doctor.

51. Tips for Boosting Morale

The most important tip that I can give you would be to just LISTEN. Listen to their ideas, listen to what makes them comfortable and what doesn't, listen to what they want from the future, and listen when they have concerns. This pandemic is a trying time especially for businesses like ours and if you want to improve your employee's morale, you have to do it with encouraging their self-esteem and not by throwing money at their feet.
Thanks to: Chris Brenchley of Sure Hand.

52. Be More Flexible

People have a lot on their mind with the current crisis and may not be as productive as usual. One of the best ways to boost employee morale is to let them know it's okay to feel more anxious than usual and to not always be productive. Give your employees space, let them know their health comes first. In other words, be supportive!
Thanks to: Benjamin Houy of Grow With Less.

53. Positivity = Productivity

To keep the team engaged & feeling appreciated... We are big on Slackolades. Our team members are encouraged to share their feats and subsequently field congratulations and support from other team members. We encourage our workers to spend time with their families; to work on their own time on their own terms! More than anything, we are constantly helping each other out - sharing information, contacts, resources and more. Our culture is very growth focused and TOGETHER is the way to grow!
Thanks to: Alison Bernstein of Suburban Jungle.

54. One on One Check-ins

While it doesn't appear to be super creative, the tip I give to business owners and managers at this time is to pick up the phone and call your employee to check in on their family, fears and mental health. Don't do it on Zoom or a team call. Do it one on one. If you have eight employees, call one or two a day for the next week. You'll be amazed at how much you reaching out to show empathy and care for them as a human will improve their morale.
Thanks to: Laura Handrick of Choosing Therapy.

55. Boosting Morale with Yoga

Our team has been participating in weekly yoga lessons from a local yoga instructor. These socially distanced yoga sessions provide everyone with time to unwind and connect with one another. COVID is generally a stressful time, so our team finds that yoga really helps.
Thanks to: Flynn Zaiger of Online Optimism.

56. Praise Your Employees Publicly

My advice is simple, yet effective: praise your employees and do it publicly if you can. My employees work remotely, so it can be difficult to foster a sense of teamwork and camaraderie sometimes. However, I make sure to praise people within the project management software we use, so everyone else can see it. I try to find something good about each person, each month to share with the group.
Thanks to: James Pollard of The Advisor Coach LLC.

57. Offer Employee Coaching

We have been able to keep morale high with our employees by offering one-on-one coaching. These sessions are for the employee to use to grow personally and professionally. It focuses on areas they want to improve inside or outside of work and we offer free books, courses and classes to help them achieve their goals. This helps keep people motivated, as it puts the driver wheel in their hands and they see progress as time goes on!
Thanks to: Loren Howard of Prime Plus Mortgages.

58. Stay Social

Whether you are bringing all your employees back to the office, continuing to work remotely, or doing a hybrid of both - it is critical to keep your team engaged, connected, and social. Encourage remote or in-person group activities (socially-distanced, of course) to boost morale and reinvigorate that sense of connection between colleagues. Things like online games, scavenger hunts, remote/in-person team building activities can help boost morale and put smiles on the faces of your team members.
Thanks to: Datis Mohsenipour of Outback Team Building & Training.

59. #you-are-awesome Channel

An easy way to boost morale is a #you-are-awesome channel for your business. We use Slack, but you could use email or another platform for team communication. The goal of this channel is peer to peer shout-outs and praise. For example, our most recent messages include our marketing manager giving a shout out to a creative team member, and an operations person giving the entire logistics team credit for a record setting day.
Thanks to: Michael Alexis of TeamBuilding.

60. 5 Minute Icebreakers

With work from home, and especially during COVID, you need to provide opportunities for social interactions and virtual team building. For example, we recently invited our team to an online "street tour" to learn about history together. An easy way to get started is including five minutes of icebreaker questions or games at the beginning of each team meeting. Ask questions like, "what is your favorite ice cream and why?" This will help build bonds and friendships while working remotely.
Thanks to: Tasia Duske of Museum Hack.

61. Serve the Community

Create opportunities for employees to serve their community by offering something that it needs or where they can donate their skill set. We've seen this with breweries making hand sanitizer and restaurants feeding first responders. Giving them a way to engage in their community and be part of the solution can give them a greater sense of fulfillment, while also strengthening your team's camaraderie and increasing the visibility and reputation of your small business.
Thanks to: Jennifer Smithberger of seedership.

62. Remove Roadblocks

We asked our team to share the issues that sucked their morale and forward momentum the most since COVID emerged. We collected the feedback and the most vital one was “Receiving Correctly Signed Paperwork.” We hadn't realized that this common task was hindering their morale so poorly and creating unnecessary issues with clients, so we converted to 100% e-signature with prepayment. Sixty days in and we have full-conversion and the team achieved morale and energy-boosts, which is needed now.
Thanks to: Joe Casper of Casper Funeral & Cremation Services.

63. Help as Many People as We Can

Saying these past months have been a challenge would be an understatement — financially and mentally. As an employer, it's been critical to keep the team motivated throughout this period. Our management team has been reminding our staff that it's never too late to do what we love to do — help as many people as we can. We believe our business makes a difference for many & we want to prove that for the time we're open this year. That alone has motivated our team to push through this tough time.
Thanks to: Jason Power of The Hearing Clinic.

64. Daily Workout Sessions

It may sound strange that exercising together at work would help boost morale and motivation, but it really has worked extremely well for my business. Typically, we'll have a daily workout session where we'll get together and do a short group workout. The main reason for doing it is to just get our bodies moving, and to get the blood flowing which really improves mental focus and boosts productivity. It's also making employees noticeably happier, more excited to come to work, and less stressed.
Thanks to: Michael Dean of Pool Research.

65. Boost Morale by Helping Others

Since our primary purpose as a company is to save people money on their medications and their healthcare, we highlight this in our weekly meetings and email briefings, and monthly newsletters to our employees and our customers. One very important aspect of the product that we highlight is the amount of money saved since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, currently at $1,000,000+. That stat alone motivates our employees to keep pushing our product so more people can save money during this time.
Thanks to: Chris Riley of USA Rx.

66. Say Thank You

My tip for keeping morale up during COVID-19 is to express my gratitude for our team. I say 'thank you' often to individual team members and our entire company as a whole. I compliment their hard work and shine the spotlight on star performers. This is a difficult time and I realize that there is still so much uncertainty ahead. However, by working together as a team and continuing to support one another and lift each other up, we are able to emerge from this time all the more stronger.
Thanks to: Deborah Sweeney of MyCorporation.com.

67. Keep Calm and Communicate

It is important that business leaders prevent public hysteria. As such, when dealing with their staff, the leaders will seek to stay cool and control their emotions. Right now, it is critical that business leaders regularly connect with their employees and exchange truthful updates. Try holding a two-week or weekly conference where you will be making preparations while the situation progresses. Employees should use this as a way to raise concerns regarding their job environment and get feedback.
Thanks to: Matt Scott of Termite Survey.

68. Employee Morale and COVID-19

Ask for feedback. Have a conversation with your employees about the challenges they run into during these times. Make feedback sessions regular and consistent and compile an action plan accessible to everyone to keep track of the steps you are taking towards the improvement. I call these sessions Employee Pulse Surveys, during which we share business improvement ideas and how we can all stay healthy, engaged, and motivated. When you ask for feedback, your employees feel valued and important.
Thanks to: David Morneau of inBeat.

69. Keep Looking Forward

In order to keep motivation high during this time, my mantra has been to keep looking forward. No matter if the news or media is saying that everything is going downhill, a positive outlook can help you & your employees rise above it! This works because I have a strong belief in the power of positive psychology - if you are optimistic, then your employees, in turn, will also be optimistic! A positive, futuristic outlook from the executive team will lead to an overall positive work experience.
Thanks to: Irina Gedarevich of eSEOspace.

70. Give Time to Release Stress

When you call the employees back to the offices, make sure that you have mentioned the spirit-restoring breaks in your crisis plan. Every employee would need it, but they might not ask for it. If you acknowledge your employees' stress, it will boost their morale and motivate them to work with full focus, increasing their productivity. You must ask every employee to take short breaks for a brief walk outdoors, meditate, or spend a few quiet moments alone.
Thanks to: Andrea Paul of Health Media Experts.

71. Increase Social Interactions

It's no secret; employees with more social interactions are happier and more productive on average compared to their less engaged counterparts. In our small business, we try to preserve the social spirit and ensure all employees remain in touch when working from home. This includes a personal weekly call between managers and their teams. Managers are updated and made aware of employee personal situations and how they pass this time. This allows our employees to feel connected, even from home.
Thanks to: Baruch Silvermann of The Smart Investor.

72. Avoid Work Overload

You must understand that too much workload can be frustrating for the employees getting back after a long break. The pandemic has caused you a significant loss, and you want to cover it up as soon as possible. However, you need to understand that you are not alone who is affected by the global crisis. So, please do not overload your employees as they come back to the office. It will create a fuss, noise, and miscommunication in the workplace resulting in reduced employee engagement.
Thanks to: Aqsa Tabassam of Upflip.

73. Virtual Gifts as a Reward

I would recommend rewarding success with virtual favors.

For example, some business owners I know are sending virtual gift cards (for something like Amazon) unexpectedly to employees via email who they know are working hard and succeeding for the company.

Even if it’s only $10, it is appreciated by employees, especially in uncertain times like these.

Unexpected gifts from someone of power is a great way to show appreciation and keep employees motivated.
Thanks to: Jim Sullivan of JCSI.

74. It's a Fresh (Re)Start!

A lot of people have become stuck in a rut at home, thinking that they enjoy doing so.

I think it is important to create a list of things that can be seen as a benefit for returning to the workplace and letting your employees add to it, too. Authenticity is key here, respecting and understanding people's concerns and hesitations. By talking about them, addressing them and even perhaps finding solutions for these, we can improve overall morale.
Thanks to: Andrew Taylor of Net Lawman.

75. Personalized Care Packages

Sending care packages to employees is the best motivation and morale booster. Other than self-care necessities, include comics, puzzles, coloring books, coloring materials, or other interesting activities that help employees focus on something else instead of the pandemic.
Thanks to: Sherry Mae of Tankarium.

76. Game Days!

I recommend doing Game Days. Hold a game day once a week, typically Thursday, so it's near the end of the workweek but not Friday, where everyone's cramming for deadlines. During game day, there are a series of games where everyone can participate to win a prize and bragging rights. The best part is this helps our people keep their minds off the seriousness of the situation, and everyone has a good time, too and boosts morale subsequently.
Thanks to: Max Harland of Dentaly.

77. Seek Out Their Perspective

Above any program or perk is listening to your employees. Having an open door policy won't go far enough. Surveying teams to understand their ideas is a good start, but seeking 1-on-1 time with them will allow you to gain greater insight to their perspectives and concerns. Being heard and seeing actionable steps being taken will create a greater bond to both the organization and those running it. Without that mutual respect, all other endeavors will be an added expense that won't gain traction.
Thanks to: Laura Tolhoek of Essential HR.

78. Your Health is My Priority!

Getting people to come back to work during these times is challenging. The health risk is high, and prioritizing it is a must. I only brought back essential staff. Items that sanitize areas outside the office are available to reduce the spread of the virus. All types of equipment should be adequately disinfected after use. Basic amenities, such as face masks and alcohol, should be provided. By implementing proper safety precautions, employee morale and productivity increases.
Thanks to: Dennis Bell of Byblos Coffee.

79. Job Reassurance

Providing reassurance over job security will go a long way in these unpredictable times to improve employee morale. In tough times like these, job retention is crucial to many. Having reassurance that their job is safe will boost their morale and allow them to focus on their job, instead of worrying about the uncertain future.
Thanks to: Albert Lee of Home Living Lab.

80. Games as a Medium to Motivate

Twice a day, we have two 5 minute required remote breaks where we ask our team to play a solitaire game of the day.

We do this because we want our team to take regular breaks so they can recharge, and games are a great way of doing this.

We also hold a zoom type racer contest on Fridays. We have our team compete on type racer to see who is the fastest typer, and we broadcast this via a screen share on zoom. Almost all our team participates, and it cultivates strong team chemistry.
Thanks to: Neal Taparia of Solitaired.

81. Set Clear Expectations

Setting the right expectations will lessen your employees’ anxiety and fear. Tackle with protocols regarding their safety and health. Define changes should there be any about their goals and targets. Be upfront if you are going to extend monetary assistance to help them. With this, employees will have a clear understanding of where they stand. It will keep them more focused and motivated to work productively if they are not carrying the burden of uncertainty.
Thanks to: Karl Armstrong of Epic Win Applications Inc.

82. Autonomy and Freedom

My team is working from home. I am giving them more autonomy and freedom in how they work on completing projects. Except for crucial tasks, we have eliminated deadlines to give everyone the space and time they need to deliver their best work. They report feeling more at ease, less stressed, and they are indeed keeping up with their usual high levels of productivity.
Thanks to: Paul French of Intrinsic Executive Search.

83. Increased Morale During COVID

I made myself available to any team members to directly message me via Skype, Slack or email and I make sure to be very responsive to their questions or concerns. We released an update video talking about Covid-19 in March, best practices to stay safe and healthy and how we prepared financially in regards to the financial downturn.

Thanks to our response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the resilience of our team, we've actually seen our average job satisfaction grow.
Thanks to: Kean Graham of MonetizeMore.

84. Tips to Boost Morale

Team challenges are a great way to boost morale for employees who are both on site and in lockdown. You can encourage individuals or teams to take advantage of their exercise time by competing in virtual relays, races or step challenges. There are several free apps where you can log your steps, distance ran/cycled, etc. Why not see which team has the most steps for the week? Which team or individual ran the furthest distance? These can also easily be tied in to raising money for charity.
Thanks to: Joe Wilson of MintResume.

85. Big Perks of Small Businesses

Professional growth opportunities even during the pandemic are one of the main perks about working in small businesses. It provides employees with a chance to understand how the business works. An ordinary employee of a large company is unlikely to get to see all the facets of the company's business. Just making clear that employee’s success is valued, especially during these difficult times, by offering a great set of courses relevant to the professional domain will motivate for a longer term.
Thanks to: Anif Muz of Jooble.

86. Flexible and Positive Approach

Good levels of motivation and morale have been maintained as a result of our flexible and positive approach to workforce management. Allowances have been made for employees who’ve committed to working from home. We’ve kept up a regular stream of personal and friendly communication, making full use of email and video calls. There’s been a focus on positive communication, with humor being used and compassion shown at this most difficult of times. Employees have welcomed our caring approach.
Thanks to: Melissa Cadwallader of ZenBusiness.

87. A Check-In Boosts Buy-In

Check in with your employees and ask them how they are feeling. Then, really listen to their response. When people know that others care how they feel, they become more connected, more engaged, and ultimately perform better.
Thanks to: Alain Hunkins of Hunkins Leadership Group.

88. Introduce Weekly Achievements

One of the ways to boost people’s morale is to focus on their strengths and celebrate all achievements. This is particularly important in a situation of uncertainty when people are often insecure or demotivated. For instance, you can introduce weekly overviews of everybody’s major achievements and create incentives for those. The point is not to simply give employees more money, but to actually acknowledge and celebrate every success.
Thanks to: Tom Winter of DevSkiller.

89. Rewards, Compromise, Safety

The steps I have taken to motivate my employees are:

-Added small pay bonuses for a job well done.

-An alternate schedule where they are allowed to spend most of the week working from home and are only required to work at the office once or twice a week.

-Installing safety precautions such as hand-sanitizing stations, shoe-washing stations, temperature checks, etc. to show them that their safety is prioritized.

Bottom line: Pay bonuses, no matter how small, are appreciated.
Thanks to: Allan Borch of Dotcom Dollar.

90. Acknowledge How They Feel

Keeping the morale of employees high during this pandemic is truly challenging. As the cases rise, so does the anxiety and stress of everyone. And, one of the things I do to motivate my staff is to give them an emotional break.

I believe that we all need a break to restore our spirits, especially during a crisis.
Thanks to: Kate Diaz of Swanky Den.

91. That's What I Do

I regularly conduct meetings with my team, to know about their problems that they are facing during WFH, which helps them to bypass all the barriers that are in between them and the company.

Whenever my team feels trouble and fails in any initiative, I don't blame them, rather I tell them about their shortcomings for corrections and better results in the future. This helps them to regain their morale and bypass their fears of failure.
Thanks to: Syed Usman Hashmi of PureVPN.

92. Stack CARES Act Opportunities

The CARES Act lets you apply tax credits against the last 3 years of your tax returns. If you can find a way to scoop up some tax credits, then amend your last 3 years of returns, the IRS will put a big fat check in your pocket.

With the right CPA and investment business partnership, you can make investments with tax credits attached to it. This will let you make an immediate return on your amended tax filings, not to mention whatever return you make from the investment itself... a great morale boost!
Thanks to: Scott Smith of Royal Legal Solutions.

93. Open Communication + Empathy

There is nothing more important than open communication with empathy to help keep morale high during COVID. Business leaders need to remember the
mental toll that this situation may be taking on their teams. Company leaders must recognize this and keep communication consistent and open to ensure the health of the brand and the health of their employees. Remind teams that the door of discussion is open if they need additional business-related and/or emotional support during these trying times.
Thanks to: Matt Erickson of National Positions.

94. Interacting Sessions

One of the best tips to raise employees' morale and motivation is a virtual meetup at the end of the week. It not only gives a chance of interaction among employees, but also creates team-building opportunities and highlights the weekly and monthly goals. During the interacting session, high performers will be recognized and will be awarded certificates.
Thanks to: Albert Griesmayr of Scribando.

95. Weekly Meme Challenge

The pandemic has taken its toll on employee’s physical and mental health.

One way to boost the morale and mental health of workers is to run a weekly meme challenge.

Encourage staff members to share funny and inspirational memes in team meetings and reward the best ones from each category.

Your employees will benefit from reading through all the uplifting memes and laughing along together at the humorous ones.
Thanks to: Schimri Yoyo of QuickQuote.com.

96. Make Their Jobs Easier!

Something that may be overlooked by businesses are the tools they give their employees. I think a tip to improve morale during this time would be to invest in software that makes your employees' jobs easier. Too many companies still aren't investing in technology and now is the perfect time to do so, if you think it can make everyday tasks less manual for your team.
Thanks to: Steven Czyrny of The Analyst Agency.

97. Elevate Junior Team Members

Since the pandemic began, we've found a great way to motivate our team is by actually giving them more challenging and important tasks than ever before. We have emphasized that where there is great struggle, there is great opportunity and so we have begun empowering staff with managerial-level tasks. This actually makes them feel even more valuable and they have stepped up to the plate big time! It also helps them stay focused and expand their roles when many of us can let our mind wander.
Thanks to: Brent Sibley, Esq. of Sibley Dolman Accident Lawyers.

98. The Mask Game

We have been playing what we call the "mask game". Every week, we buy a $150 gift card to a local restaurant and every time someone is caught not wearing a mask at work they get a strike on a whiteboard against them. The person at 4:00 on Friday with the least amount of strikes gets the gift card. It's great for morale and great for open floor plan offices.
Thanks to: Russ Nauta of Credit Card Reviews.

99. Employees Value Vacation Days

As a small business owner, boosting employee morale during a pandemic is new territory for me. Obviously, it's new for all of us; that's what makes it such a challenge.

The idea of offering additional vacation days has been an interesting proposition in our organization. Giving employees the opportunity to take vacation and even added encouragement to actually check-out with no contact by phone, email, etc. could increase our daily productivity immensely.
Thanks to: Antti Alatalo of Smart Watches 4 U.

100. Together, We Can

Show your unwavering support by celebrating any and all accomplishments. Joy and recognition are a couple things that may have been lost during this pandemic, so ensuring that your employees' work is not going unnoticed can go a long way. These are unprecedented times, so some individuals may need support in different ways. As a leader, it is important to be there for your team and listen to their feedback. It starts at the top; if you are able to bring the energy and positivity, it will shine.
Thanks to: Sanem Ahearn of Colorescience.

101. Group Therapy

The method that worked wonders for Caption Easy was conducting weekly group therapy sessions with the entire office at the start of the day. Sessions are led by an experienced therapist, and although employees are not obligated to speak up, those who do have shown marked improvements in attitude and work output—almost as if a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.
Thanks to: Khurram Suhrwardy of Caption Easy.

102. Provide a Healthy Online Space

We've found that one of the best ways to motivate and boost a team's morale during the pandemic has been to provide an interactive online space for employees to communicate and engage with one another. Whether it's a messaging platform, video chat room or even a monthly Zoom call where the company pays for everyone’s Door Dash lunch, it provides opportunities for community support, interaction, and human connection. It's a great way to motivate and boost employee morale while distant.
Thanks to: Shannon Walker of Whistleblower Security.

103. Think of the Big Picture

At Leda Health, our mission is to provide resources for survivors of sexual assault while removing barriers for care. Because this is such a difficult topic to discuss and work with all day long, I tell myself to look at the big picture. Whenever the job gets tough or too much at times, my employees think about the overall benefits of the work we are doing and continue, in hopes for change to come.
Thanks to: Madison Campbell of Leda Health.

104. Recognize and Share Wins

According to Tony Robbins, one of the six core human needs is contribution - to add value to the lives of those around us. A great method to improve morale, in person or via video, is to begin 1-to-1 and team meetings by recognizing one another and then inviting each person to share wins. When a colleague is appreciated in the way she desires to receive praise, she will be more motivated and productive. As people FEEL the deeper connection, they will step outside their comfort zone more.
Thanks to: Michael S. Seaver of Seaver Consulting, LLC.

105. Truly Listen

Spend a few minutes with each employee and truly listen to them. COVID is impacting everyone differently and everyone is handling it differently. Ask how it’s going and ask follow-up questions. Don’t talk much about yourself, unless it’s to help them know you understand them. There’s nothing as fulfilling as being heard. Employees will connect with you and be motivated to keep doing a great job.
Thanks to: Barry Moline of Author, Connect! How to Collaborate.

106. Celebrate the Smallest of Wins

Do not miss the opportunity to celebrate even the smallest of wins. The pandemic has taught us the treasure of life by showing how fragile human life can be. It is the sudden realization that our lives are under threat which causes anxiety and low morale. As a visionary, it is the duty of all leaders to flip the coin and stand for the beauty that is life. From a good comment by a customer to a new sale, anything and everything should be used as an opportunity to boost the morale of employees.
Thanks to: Ian Kelly of NuLeaf Naturals.

107. Boosting Employee Morale

Encourage team building activities like virtual happy hours. Cultivate a harmonious, almost familial environment.

As a boss, it also helps to be flexible and understanding towards their needs, especially during these trying times.
Thanks to: Jack Wang of Amazing Hair Beauty.

108. Knowing Our Job Is a Vital One

Boosting employee motivation and morale during the pandemic hasn't been easy, but it's been critical to do so as an employer. As an essential service, our message has been to remind our employees that we are, in fact, essential and that the public is counting on us to perform. Assuring our team is equipped with the correct PPE has also helped deter any concerns. But overall, knowing our job is a critical one has given us all the motivation we need to push through.
Thanks to: Jonathan Desjardins of Desjardins Environnement.

109. Streamline Processes

While our clinics had temporarily ceased operations, we utilized the downtime by creating an "all-hands project". This focused on company-wide technology transformations and upgrading to a cloud-based Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. This allowed everyone to share their voice on large decisions and discovery projects that not only added tremendous value for us long-term, but kept them occupied and interested. Now that we're open again, it's been great seeing the fruits from our labor.
Thanks to: Mac Fadra of MAXIM ReGen.

110. #BeAPro Peer Recognition

Peer recognition fosters positive company culture! S.R.P.'s 2020 Peer Recognition Program #BeAPro celebrates when employees are championing Short Run Pro’s principles & core values. When employees stand out to another employee, they get a T-shirt with #BeAPro recognition. Employees need to feel involved; peer recognition helps reinforce their sense of involvement whether working remotely or in the office.
Thanks to: Christy Stucker of Short Run Pro.

111. Help Your Team Feel SAFE First

DOCUmation is a technology company in San Antonio, Texas, and to boost morale in our offices we've installed our brand new thermal scanners in the lobbies of all our offices. It may seem like a small gesture, but these contactless temperature checks are helping all employees feel safe and secure returning to work. Similar to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, we've found that people in this pandemic first need to feel a sense of physical wellbeing, before they feel motivated or inspired!
Thanks to: Robby Brown of DOCUmation.

112. Pull Them in for More

Leaders and internal communications professionals don’t just push information out to employees, they create a conversation by setting up simple suggestion forms, asking for feedback, and utilizing platforms that make it easy for employees to engage in dialogue. How often do you receive and respond to questions from your team? Encourage employees to engage in 2-way communication with peers and managers, and create events (digital and in-person) to help facilitate discussions.
Thanks to: Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls.

113. Share Appreciation

A way for employers to boost morale, and to keep the fire of workplace culture burning red hot, is to ensure employees are reminded of their value. This activity is a great example. Each employee writes their name on a card and the cards are passed around to the office for everyone to sign. Colleagues can write a note and compliment coworkers on their jobs well done, or simply say something positive. Employees then go home with a card filled with appreciation and positive feedback.
Thanks to: Elizabeth Weatherby of Wisner Law Firm.

114. We Don’t Stop for Pandemics

With us, there’s the passion for providing our audience with quality information. We don’t stop for pandemics. It’s a moral obligation we have towards them to continue to educate our readers and provide them with the latest news and tips about privacy. People try to take advantage of others in times of chaos and it’s up to us to help put a stop to that. Where does privacy factor into COVID? Is contact tracing really ok? These are the questions that motivate us to keep going.
Thanks to: Heinrich Long of Restore Privacy.

115. Just a Little Brightness

We’ve been trying to have fun and make sure we’re still connecting with each other, even while socially distanced. We’re making additional efforts by providing fun masks for everyone - if you have to keep safe, do it in style! - organizing socially distanced game nights, and offering a little bit of something extra while we’re in the office - ordering out for lunch, getting free dessert for everyone, and even enjoying happy hour from time to time.
Thanks to: Sandra Hurley of Hayden Girls.

As always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!

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Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth