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5 Ways Managers Can Boost Team Morale

With more Americans working remotely, there is still a level of risk for burnout. Nearly two out of three remote workers show symptoms of burnout with less in-person collaboration, in-office work routines and juggling professional and personal demands even more.

A woman smiling with her co-workers during a video conference call.

As a manager, you can help boost team morale by helping to create a virtual workplace culture where employees feel supported and empowered to better balance work with life. Here are a few ways to start:

  1. Establish clear communication expectations.
    When employees work from home, it can be difficult to set boundaries between when the workday officially "ends" and when personal life begins. With smartphone notifications always dinging, employees may feel pressure to respond, no matter the hour, which increases the risk for burnout. As a manager, you can help by setting expectations for communication responsiveness upfront. For example, you might say that unless there is a clear client emergency, employees should not feel the need to respond to any emails outside the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. If your company uses an instant messaging platform like Slack or Google Hangouts, a similar precedent could be set. This can help your employees disconnect and recharge in the evenings without feeling guilty.

  2. Ask how employees are feeling — and take time to listen to their answers.
    If you have weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with each member of your team, set aside a few minutes to genuinely listen to their needs and concerns. If employees are sharing home office space with a spouse or juggling childcare duties during the day, it's natural for them to feel a bit overwhelmed. Rather than waiting for their work quality to decline or for them to miss a deadline, proactively ask how they are doing.

  3. Practice gratitude.
    During a challenging time, it can be tempting to focus on the negative, like a difficult client or a project mistake. This can lead to a demoralizing spiral for your whole team. Help shift your team's energy by practicing gratitude. On your next team call, take time to thank employees who have gone above and beyond recently. Employees who feel appreciated at work are 87% less likely to leave an organization, and this public gratitude can have a ripple effect through the whole group. You could also ask team members to nominate someone each month who they feel is the "team star," giving everyone an opportunity to recognize one another's hard work.

  4. Celebrate success as a team.
    When everyone is working remotely, the "big wins" can feel less exciting since there's no group celebration, like a catered office lunch or Friday happy hour. As a manager, however, you can still get creative with virtual celebration ideas. For example, you might arrange to have lunch delivered to everyone on your team from your favorite restaurant, and hold a video call for the group to enjoy the celebration together. You could also hold a "team game afternoon" and play virtual charades, Pictionary, or office bingo via a video call.

  5. Take time to connect.
    One of the biggest challenges with extended remote work is the loss of team camaraderie. Gone are the casual conversations employees used to have in the break room or on their afternoon coffee runs. You can recreate this by leaving time for "personal chitchat" at the beginning of each weekly team call. Ask employees to share the best show they've recently binge-watched, a new recipe they loved cooking, or a favorite book they're reading. These casual conversations can help employees feel more connected with one another, and in turn, feel more invested in the company and the team's success.

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