Ep. 5: Addressing Employee Morale (right now) - bettHR

In This Episode

  • With such a huge employee morale issue shared by HR departments through the latest SHRM research, we can’t wait to fix it… we have to act now.
  • Morale, just like engagement, is an outcome of negative experiences. So it’s time to focus on employee experiences to build more positive interactions back up.
  • Four ways we can do this right now: 
    • Number 1: What’s your communication cadence?
    • Number 2: Have you helped set the tone for discovering their why?
    • Number 3: Are your HR resources effective? Have you done a quick check-in with your employees, to see if they have what they need, things they didn’t think they needed but have been helpful, or are there gaps?
    • Number 4: Are you rewarding fun?

Resources

(00:00): But if you have a morale problem or trying to hedge one off before it gets too deep, I want you to really think about how your employees are having fun. I'm Melissa Anzman, HR practitioner turned CEO of a thriving employee experience company, but it wasn't all that long ago that I worked as an HR business partner responsible for increasing employee engagement at companies nationwide and I struggled to move the needle even after trying everything under the sun. Fast forward past many failed tactics and lessons learned and you'll see how I've been able to crack the code and replicated at companies of all sizes for creating true engagement and doing HR work that matters, work that changes the lives of leaders, HR professionals, and employees. By focusing on the employee experience, I created the rethink HR podcast to give you actionable step by step strategies to help you make an impact.

(01:00): If you're an HR leader or one on the rise who's looking to stop spinning your wheels doing the same tired activities that aren't driving results or you want to have a career, you love your in the right place. Let's get started. Let's talk morale and why maintaining our employees morale is such an issue right now. And more importantly, what we can do as HR professionals, as leaders in our organization to fix it. So having so many things that we consider normal and incorporated into our daily life, no longer being available or a part of our routine has sent continuous shockwaves across our employee population. And while we've likely had an employee morale issue for some time, you don't want me quoting the employee engagement numbers again, right? So we know that employee morale has been an issue. However, I recently read a Sherm study about the Cova 19 impact and the findings were honestly astounding to see in print.

(02:09): Probably not shocking from an HR perspective or from a human perspective, but the study found that two and three employers say that maintaining employee morale has been an issue during the coven 19 pandemic. And in the accommodation, food services and healthcare space, that number is even higher at around 73% so these are people who are reporting this to Sherm. So I always say that for a negative thing, it probably skews slightly low. But those numbers are super high and when you think about it, it's quite shocking to think that so many of our workforce, our colleagues of our employees are so disconnected with the work and our companies right now that it has basically into this never ending employee morale issue. Now it's not surprising given the landscaped and the omniscient sense of fear and the unknown and uncertainty, but it's definitely not sustainable for every single one of those employees across our company.

(03:21): Having morale that low, so that's 66 to 73% on a good day, reporting their employees morale is low. It's not sustainable for business. It's not going to help us rebound air quotes there when it's time to do so and so, let's totally be honest. Most of us are probably in that same boat of feeling disengaged or upset or disconnected. We aren't immune to morale ended in disengagement issues just because we work in HR. In fact, I challenged that notion to say that w we are more prone to it or at least the cynicism that we sort of feel from seeing all of the behind the scenes stuff. It really makes it an easier road for us to go down of just being totally bummed out about it. But with morale issues so prevalent, we know that our situation right now, it's not a temporary thing and as soon as we are able to get back to work, we're not going to just feel better and re-engaged and super jazzed to be there.

(04:36): We're not. It's a fallacy. There is no going back and that's why we talk about this, you know, sort of new normal because it isn't a, okay, let's just pretend this never happened. Too much has changed. We're going to have a very long hangover of discontent. We'll be questioning our career, our company, ourselves, trying to figure out what's important both personally and at work and so on. Morale is not an issue that's going to go away as soon as we get back to work. This is a longterm investment in your HR practice and approach. So how do we do this? So first little block here, remember that if you're still talking about engagement, you're already losing. Engagement isn't something that you can make happen. It's an outcome of how your employees are experiencing your company. Morale is the same exact thing, same approach. So to boost morale we have to go deep in our employee experience.

(05:46): So I'm going to walk through four ways that you can do that right now without spending a whole bunch of money without adding a whole bunch of new things to your plate cause they know those are going to be your knee jerk nose. But you can make these things happen to start building positive employee experiences back into your daily HR practice. So number one, what's your communication cadence? So you've heard me talk about this frequently, especially since coven 19 has come into play. But after the initial communication strategies that you put in place, things have likely changed or dwindled down over the last four to six weeks or so. So now is not the time for that. So here's your reminder that at a minimum you should be in touch with all of your team members at least once a day to my HR friends that do not have direct reports.

(06:44): Make sure the leaders that you support are taking this step. And make sure that you're connecting with your clients daily to now communication cadence is something that it's a habit. When we practice it, we fall into a routine and those small steps become lasting impacts. If we do it at the beginning of the pandemic, if we overcommunicate then and then we stop because it's another thing on our list or perhaps we feel like our employees are back at it, we're good where we've settled in to this new situation you're losing because employees need to hear from you. The communication should not be any different than it was at the beginning when things felt crazy out of control. That's going to help you head off morale issues by over communicating, by staying in touch, by uh, sharing what's important. By sharing gratitude with your employees. They're going to stay in it with you.

(07:49): They're going to feel like you're on the same team, which they are. So help them see that through upping or reminding you to do your communication cadence weekly, daily at a minimum, weekly, bigger conversations, monthly be a team updates and so on. Number two is have you helped set the tone for discovering their why? So as an employee, and one could argue in life as well, it's really important that you all know why it's important to you personally to show up every day and your employees need to know that as well. So have you taken the time to encourage your team, HR otherwise, and don't forget to do it for yourself as well to create a why statement to keep you focused and to get you back on track when things feel walkie. So what's this why statement? I'm glad you asked so you can learn more about it, about the official way to do it through Simon Sinex book or his Ted talk.

(08:57): Start with why, but here's how I implemented quick and dirty. I write down the one sentence that is core, like the core reason why I do my best, why I bother. It's how I see the value in the work that I do, how I find the joy out of it, and how I'm able to sustain and do all those annoying bits. Because I know there's a bigger payoff for me personally on the other side. So this is truly that thing that makes you light up, that has you excited, that brings you a glimmer of joy in your day. That's about work. It's not about other people's reaction to your work. We're not thinking external validation. These are things that you do you, maybe it's a skill or a, um, activity or a result or an outcome that you control. So you find that and it takes a little bit like you write it down, you gotta be sure that it's not external validation.

(10:02): Then you have to go deeper to make sure you're not talking in poems. We're being real about our why. So you're going to do that. And then you have your one sentence and encourage your employees to do that as well. So when they do that and you do yours, I want you to have your why statement visible every day throughout the day. So if you don't have sticky notes on your monitor, put a sticky note on your monitor. You want to put it where it's not cluttered is what I'm getting at so that you actually see it because it is a very visible reminder, a talisman of sorts of your why and how to stay focused during the rough patches. If you know why you show up to work every day, if you know why that's so important to you and your family or your company or whatever drives you, having that reminder in front of you is going to keep you from falling down the bad morale spiral.

(11:04): Number three, are your HR resources affective? Now, I want you to stick with me here because don't get defensive. I know sometimes I talk about your HR resources and they get a lot of, yeah, we have that. We're good. We have all the information out there. You know, employees know, they know, they know, they know they don't. Okay. So I really want you to do some leg work around how effective your HR resources are. Have you done a quick check in with your employees to see if they have what they need? If there's things that they didn't think they needed, but have been super helpful and of course where are those gaps? Then I want you to ask them if they're all easily accessible. So here's the thing, we're all super distracted right now and even more easily led by a shiny new object or something more exciting on the other side and we've likely been wrapped up in work related things that carry such a heavy weight, especially in HR like layoffs.

(12:11): So it's not easy for us to dust off the negativity when it comes to that activity, but those things are still ongoing. I get that. But your employee population needs support and resources right now as well. So while we're still over there doing the work that we need to do, we need to be sure that our employees feel overly supported right now. And here's the hint. That doesn't mean that you post an article on the internet or a slap or resource PDF out there and call it a day stop. That nonsense. That is not helpful at all. You just simply creating a resource and putting it where it goes is not being helpful or effective. That's just you checking a box and thinking you're delivering value. Instead to create an effective HR resource. We need to be intentional about what your employees need and how you're going to communicate that to them so that they, they are exactly where they need to be to deliver the biggest impact.

(13:26): We create a lot of super helpful and cool things in HR and then we just assume our employees are going to go fish for them. They aren't. We need to spoon feed them right now a little bit when it comes to resources, so make sure your HR resources are created and that they're effective and find the gaps so you can fill them. Number four is are you rewarding fun so y'all know I'm not about all that. We were stuffed. So don't skip over this part thinking I'm going to head into the Wu space. But if you have a morale problem or trying to hedge one off before it gets too deep, I want you to really think about how your employees are having fun. So they're definitely not having fun at work right now. They really have little reason to be having fun in general, but more specifically, they aren't being encouraged to have fun at work.

(14:31): So instead, how historically work has been a place that they feel comfortable. We've gotten a little relaxed. Maybe if they go in the office, they see their friends, they can go to the water cooler, they feel comfortable at work. Oh, how so many employees are probably dreaming of their cubicle walls now that they used to curse out. Right? But the thing, the point is now they're not doing those things. Now they're constantly on high alert and are missing all of the external cues to bring them joy. So whether that's their home by themselves in isolation, they have kids around that they're trying to homeschool or feed or just keep out of their office during zoom meetings, whatever that is. There's just a lot going on that makes your employees uncomfortable. So I'm going to encourage you to change your approach slightly and start reward your employees for having fun.

(15:34): So maybe you do this with a virtual water cooler break and you give gift cards out for the person who does the funniest core, great choreographed chariots or possibly you have a local restaurant deliver dinner for a family who has the most people interrupt them during a zoom call or my favorite, you have the best thing costume during a call. So you tell everybody to show up with a specific theme, a piece of item like of clothing or for a holiday. And you ever has the best outfit with the things that they have in their home, wins a prize, allow for work to be a comfortable place again that they can, that they can come together, share some laughter. And then the cool part is you can reward employees for it. The boost and that alone along with the laughter is going to go a long way.

(16:29): Now I know your first reaction to that is if I'm buying gift cards, I don't have a budget for it or perhaps it's, you know, we just don't know who's delivering meals for restaurants. I get it. These are examples. If you don't have a budget for a $20 gift card, find something else you can do. Maybe it's mailing handwritten letter, maybe it's doing a, you know, high five shout out during the next town hall. Whatever that is. I want you to reward them for having fun. Let work become that safe space again where they feel like they can be themselves a little bit more than they feel like they can lately and bringing laughter back in the day. When you laugh, when you create your employees to have a laughter moment, when you create that for them, the experience is positive. You are adding those positive experiences into the wind column so that some of those negative experiences that are going on that we may or may not likely control is even out and where the winds, which is better, the positive winds come out ahead.

(17:44): So the takeaway is we all have a morale problem is specially if between 66 and 73% of those reporting indicate that they do. So it's not hard for us to do these four things. It is how really hard to turn around a morale problem once it gets too deep. So if we start making these steps to improve the situation now when that hangover hits, we're already going to be well ahead of the game. This podcast is brought to you by better microsites with your HR budgets being cut and you being on the hunt for ways to do more with less. Why not consider a total rewards or benefits microsite to not only increase your employee experience, but also deliver increased value at half the cost? We all know that your off the shelf benefit administration website is extremely user unfriendly, lacking customization, easy to find information, a crazy firewall, and it's missing a search function all at an extremely high cost to your budget. Better microsites are a hundred percent design based on what your employees need to know, your branding and your information, improving the speed in which your they can find important benefit details while seamlessly connecting with your enrollment vendor in a just about six weeks, so learn more about better microsites at better.com/micro sites. That's B E T T hr.com/microsites thank you so much for tuning in for this episode of the rethink HR podcast. For more information including the show notes and resources, please go to rethink HR podcast.com/five.