Maintaining Morale During Lockdown
If you’ve ever visited our office you’ll know that there is an energy about it that is hard to describe. Many clients and visitors have left our HQ commenting on what we are lucky to have – a space that is buzzing, fun, uplifting and inspiring to be in.
But it’s not just down to luck. Since the company was founded, its leaders have focused on the people that make up the company. Keeping staff happy and engaged has created a high energy, high morale atmosphere and a palpable team spirit. Focusing on mindset as much as skillset has meant that that the open and authentic culture has never been compromised. And of course, creating spaces that allow such magic to happen is what we do.
However, a global pandemic has the potential to rattle even the most unshakeable. Hannah Grothier, People Director and expert in office culture explains how you can sustain such high morale during this period of lockdown by focusing on communication, connection, support and celebration.
"Though we had a work from home policy pre-lockdown it was rarely used, with most valuing the convenience, collaboration, and spontaneity of social occasions that the office offers. We are a tight-knit team of real friends and we like to be together. Our employees socialise together, go on holiday together, some live together and a couple are even married to one another. We are a 200-person family and lockdown had the potential to hit us hard. My job was to make sure it didn’t."
"Our strategy to keep everyone’s spirits high was my priority before we’d even closed the office doors. We decided that to maintain energy levels, engagement and wellbeing we had to do the following four things:"
1. COMMUNICATE WELL
- Offer stability
Routine allows everybody to become familiar with what is to come and never feel like they’re left in the dark. Ours consists of a weekly video broadcast from our CEO (every Thursday at 4.30pm without fail), a weekly newsletter of all company goings-on such as updates on current projects and pitches as well as the latest banana bread baked (every Tuesday), weekly email updates from our people team regarding our interactive societies and ways of keeping us all connected (every Wednesday), and immediate communications following any government updates that may affect or concern our wider team.
- Encourage transparency
Following our CEO broadcasts, we ask everyone to feedback their queries and concerns. Our Senior Management Team then answer all questions and communicate them back to the whole company. Whilst they might not always be able to share all the details, they offer enough transparency that everybody is clear on our circumstances and not worrying.
- Make it meaningful
Communicating for the sake of communicating is pointless. If there’s nothing new to share, don’t be afraid to say so. Regular, honest communication will keep everyone engaged.
2. CONNECT OFTEN
- Get creative
Reach out to people how they want to be reached. Slack. Email. Zoom. Whatsapp. Phone. Social media. On their Peleton screen. Think about who you’re communicating with, what their situation is and how is most appropriate to remind them that they are still part of the team. Myself and the management team ensure that between us we have been in touch and checked in with every single person in the business at least once fortnightly.
- Plan the unplanned
Chance encounters are one of the things we miss most when we’re working from home and one of the toughest things to mimic. Using Zoom, we’ve opened a virtual breakout room for 2 hours a day where any team member can drop in and see who’s about, who’s eating what, who’s had a haircut and who’s got news. Big ideas can come from those small moments.
- Join the club
Pre- lockdown we already had several societies for our keen runners, golfers and yogis. Since we’ve been isolated our team have also established baking, HIIT, reading, art, skill share and podcast societies. With more time at home our employees are picking up old hobbies and trying out new ones and those interested in sharing lead informal Slack channels to keep everyone in the loop.
- Thirsty Thursdays
Our Thursday team meetings were great in person and continue to be great online. Following the CEO broadcast, many of the 200 online stick around to share a G&T and a chat with colleagues just as they would have done if we had been in our own Rocket Room. Except now they often include a hi from pets, children, mums, dads and flatmates!
3. SUPPORT EACH OTHER
- Show you care
Many of our employees are looking after loved ones; children, elderly parents or otherwise. It’s very easy for them to feel like the world rests on their shoulders so it’s even more important that they feel looked after too. With so many of our employees enjoying the opportunity to cook fresh, healthy dinners and exercise more we decided we would send them all HRVST fruit and veg parcels to keep them topped up with immunity-boosting vitamins, to save them a trip to the shops and to thank them for supporting the business during these uncertain times.
- Each one teach one
Mental wellbeing is equally as important as physical, particularly for those who are unable to work from home and for whom the novelty of Netflix has worn off. Human studies have shown that it’s very common for people in isolation to feel less motivated and less capable. To ensure that we don’t lose confidence in ourselves, we have a skill share programme where any of our talented workforce can offer to teach or request to learn something new. From guitar to graphic design, these lessons are keeping our brains ticking over.
- Read between the lines
Many people will be very open and honest about how they feel during this time - and some won’t. Treat everybody with the same compassion and take note of what you’re hearing not just what they’re saying. The pillars of our wellbeing programme address physical, mental and financial concerns and these are always on our radar. We’ve created a WFH toolkit that we circulate each week with a new chapter each time covering the likes of home office ergonomics, mindfulness and personal finance.
4. CELEBRATE TOGETHER
- Good news stories
Amidst the daily government updates and worrying press it’s important to share the good news too. We send a weekly newsletter to our team to keep them informed of all the things we’re still achieving despite the circumstances. Sharing positivity and lifting spirits is essential.
- Remember the little things
Birthdays, anniversaries, pregnancy due dates, checking in with staff to let them know you’re thinking of them is a great way to let people know that they’re valued and remembered even if you can’t be face to face.
- Reward and recognise.
Reward makes people feel good and shouldn’t just be about professional achievements. Celebrate the people who are filling quiet days by learning new skills and the parents juggling work and family life as much as you celebrate the employees who continue to work diligently, business as (un)usual.