This piece originally appeared on CorpComms on May 22, 2020.
Spirits may be low with so much economic uncertainty and upheaval, and that can make keeping employee motivation up a full-time job. But knowing a few key things about how motivation fundamentally works allows us to better help our employees.
In general, we are only motivated to do things if:
A) the task or activity is within our power to complete;
B) we think we’ll get some sort of benefit from it;
C) we value the outcome of what we’re about to do.
A benefit can be an external reward, such as a prize for completing a survey. Or, it can be internal, such as reading a book to learn something new. These factors are what you should keep in mind when finding ways to help teams to stay motivated and through your communications.
Your people are working around the clock, struggling with difficult customers and health anxiety. A little recognition goes a long way. Additionally, our need to reciprocate what’s been given to us — in this case, praise — means gratitude will quickly spread throughout your company. Look at your digital suite of tools and encourage sharing of both colleague and customer appreciation. We’ve seen this be really effective on Workplace and Yammer, as well as dedicated microsites built specifically to bring people together and share feedback throughout the coronavirus crisis.
Encourage leaders to be visible.
Hearing from this trusted source — even when leaders are uncertain of what to say — can keep employee sprits high. Visible doesn’t mean “in-person.” Video conferencing systems that have a real-time questions facility can help recreate the feel of the tried-and-true town hall. Or consider hosting a series of “ask me anything” style webinars on different topics the business cares about. The idea is to provide a regular cadence of connection and visibility.
We’re uniquely social creatures and yearn to find connection. There’s a lot that internal communicators can do to facilitate this. The key is to be deliberate. At the office, interactions happen spontaneously as we bump into colleagues throughout the day. Now we need to be more intentional.
Send out a one-page tip sheet with ideas for creating connection. It can include things like a weekly-round up of the best pet moments or contributions to “the work from home diaries,”
It can also be helpful to protect social time by blocking out a recurring event in the team calendar. One team I know has a daily “London Social Hour” just to catch up. In our team, we have a recurring lunch link. If you’re free and want company, you can just drop in and see who’s there. It’s easy and it works.
As communicators, it’s our job to be empathetic. Remember these are uncertain times and employees may have lost colleagues to COVID-19 or seen the co-workers furloughed. A few small communication efforts can go a long way in helping boost morale and motivation.