How to keep employee morale high throughout the second lockdown

It's a well-known fact that the first lockdown in March had a detrimental impact on mental health and wellbeing.

How to keep employee morale high throughout the second lockdown

It’s a well-known fact that the first lockdown in March had a detrimental impact on mental health and wellbeing. 

The Centre for Mental Health has predicted that up to ten million people in England ‘ almost a fifth of the population ‘ will need mental health support as a direct consequence of COVID-19, and a similar study, this time from Snapchat, found that two-thirds of Brits admitted to feeling lonely during the first lockdown. 

With a new lockdown in place until 2nd December, these feelings of isolation will likely emerge again, and some will feel that we are back to square one. So, how can business leaders help support their employees during this second lockdown and keep morale high for the next few weeks in the lead up to Christmas?

Recognise the differences between the first and second lockdown 

If all goes to plan, then this second lockdown should only last for four weeks. And, although this may sound minuscule when compared to the 12 weeks we endured earlier this year, it’s still vital that business leaders recognise the toll on mental health caused by another lockdown. 

In fact, in the week after Boris’s announcement on Halloween, levels of anxiety, isolation, and fatigue were at their highest since the emergence of the virus

Part of this can be explained by the sheer length of the crisis. In March, many presumed that the first lockdown would only last a month, and few could have predicted that our lives would not have returned to normal by the end of this year.  

To counteract this, companies will need to check-in and engage with their employees more frequently and show the same amount of attentiveness and understanding that they showed during the first lockdown in March. This might include arranging an informal online meeting with colleagues to catch up and check in on their wellbeing or creating a fun virtual experience such as an escape room for people to create memories together and connect in new and different ways.

Be transparent with your employees

HR professionals and business owners need to be as honest as possible with all employees during this second lockdown. In March, concerns about job security were ubiquitous across sectors, with more than a third of UK adults in full-time work admitting to worrying about becoming redundant. 

With this in mind, Business leaders need to be as transparent as possible with their employees to help quell any anxieties. If things are going well business-wise, then HR professionals and owners should communicate this, so employees feel reassured. Similarly, although it may be hard, businesses should inform their employees of financial challenges so their employees feel informed , and can provide a more supportive role to the business.

The role of financial and non-financial rewards in motivating workers 

Raising morale during the second lockdown isn’t just about checking-in and keeping employees up to date with any business developments. As we all prepare for four weeks indoors, people will be looking for entertainment to pass the time, and work activities are a great way to boost morale and team spirit.  

But businesses shouldn’t go for the obvious when planning any virtual team activities. No matter what you think, people are sick of Zoom quizzes, and business leaders should think outside of the box. For instance, last month Virgin Incentives ran a virtual cocktail making class with our team, posting different ingredients and a cocktail shaker to everyone at home. We all connected over Google Meet to ‘cheers’ virtually and catch-up. As well as a virtual cocktail making class, there’s also virtual experiences such as escape rooms which is a great way of bringing people together. 

Although activities like these aren’t what we thought we’d be doing at this time of year, businesses must get imaginative and look to create fun in lieu of the traditional work Christmas party. While financial incentives are of course gratefully received, they will often be spent on something banal like grocery shopping and will fail to generate much long-term excitement  or motivation from employees. Engaging activities to excite your team and strengthen bonds provide the added benefits needed to keep morale high throughout the second lockdown.

Danni Rush
Danni Rush

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