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For all the latest news and information from MusicBiz and ThinkSmart Software.

Beating the COVID Blues: How To Keep Staff Motivated
Beating The COVID Blues: How to Keep Staff Motivated
Thursday, 24th September 2020 ThinkSmart Software

If there's anything that COVID-19 has taught us, it's how high the mental health impact of a global pandemic can be. The Black Dog Institute in Australia suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic could cause feelings of "anxiety and panic, depression, anger, confusion and uncertainty, and financial stress ." While not everybody will experience these issues, most of us will share some of them to varying degrees. Unfortunately, for your business, these (understandable) feelings may have significant negative impacts on its ability to continue to thrive.

If you're looking for ways to motivate your staff to keep working at their best through isolation, here are some tips for keeping them engaged, happy, and functional during these unprecedented times.

Recognise Their Feelings

The first way to keep staff motivated is an obvious one but worth stating nonetheless. Acknowledging what members of your team are feeling and voicing your support if they're not at their 100% best will keep them motivated to continue to work for you. By contrast, being dismissive will send people searching for another job.

Recognize, listen, and learn what your staff are experiencing and, when reasonable, be as responsive and accommodating as possible. Employees appreciate when their employers show them flexibility and a willingness to work with them. They will return that with loyalty and dedication to their job.

Ensure Sufficient Recovery Time

The Australian Psychological Society has an excellent paper on helping employee engagement during COVID-19. One of their suggestions is to work with employees to ensure there's sufficient time in their days to recover and regroup from their workday. During the COVID era, this is particularly challenging.

When employees attended your studio or office regularly, there was a clear delineation between work and play. When they were at your studio, they were at work. That ended (for the most part) once they left.

Now, those work-life boundaries are less pronounced. Microsoft had a great study that showed that, since COVID started, their employees were working more into the night and on other off-hours, like weekends. For example, a dance instructor might take care of the kids throughout the day, in between classes, and then once the kids are in bed, catch up on emails late into the evening. By the time this person goes to bed, they've had no time to themselves.

This scenario plays out frequently with COVID. So, to prevent your employees from disengaging due to burnout, work with them to ensure that there's time off. Maybe that time off involves vacation days. Or, perhaps that's adjusting some of the hours and schedules, so they have some time to themselves.

Remind Your Employees That Their Work is as Meaningful as Ever

Talking to a computer screen all day can feel a little demoralizing at times. Sometimes there isn't the same level of meaningful connection as being with students in person. Additionally, it's hard for instructors to know how well their lessons are landing, how people are adapting to the new environment, or if their classes are as impactful as they once were.

It's a new environment and unchartered territory for everyone. These feelings are entirely normal. To keep your employees engaged, remind them that their work is as meaningful as ever. In fact, it's perhaps even more significant now with COVID. Now, it's not just a dance lesson on Tuesday - it's the one thing that feels normal throughout the week.

Being able to bring about that sense of normality is a powerfully positive and motivating perk of the job for instructors all over the world!

Provide The Right Software, Hardware, And Training For Staff Members

In the United States, there was a story about a professor at a top-rated school, Columbia University, that couldn't figure out their microphone. Out of frustration, the professor left the class after 15 minutes of being unable to figure out how the hardware worked. The story made the news, and while the content may seem surprising at first, it's not unrealistic. With COVID-19, many instructors are working in unfamiliar conditions and with unknown hardware and software. Add in the fact that some of this technology doesn't translate very well for certain class types, and it makes for a frustrating, demotivating experience all-around.

When you provide the right equipment for teaching from home and training on those tools, much of that stress goes away. Having the basics for a work from home setup is essential - a quality microphone, webcam, and videoconferencing software. Having training or practise sessions, where everyone can try out their tools and videoconferencing techniques, goes a long way to ensuring that staff feel like they can provide a quality remote learning experience for clients. If necessary, consider providing your team with the right equipment to ensure your business can provide a uniformly positive experience for clients.

Don't Give up on Social Events

Just because your staff may be physically apart, that doesn't mean they can't still have fun together! Consider having socially distanced game nights (small prizes work great for this) or even just an hour a week when everyone brings their favourite beverage and talks. While these might seem insignificant, it can help keep the team feeling connected and get some much-needed sense of normality.

With how busy everyone can be, it can be hard to get everyone together for an hour a week, but it's vital to keep some sense of team unity and cohesion. Without those times when everyone gets together, employees will quickly feel isolated and demotivated.

It is worth noting that getting your employees used to these types of virtual events will help even when they can come back into the office or studio. Most jurisdictions require at least 2m of spacing, even in the workplace. For example, the Health and Safety Executive Executive has this request for all UK employers, and this guidance doesn't look to be changing any time soon. That means, for the foreseeable future, virtual pub nights will be the norm, so getting your team used to these ‘morale’ events is best!

It's The Little Things That Count

Keeping staff engaged during these times is less about grand gestures and more about the little things. Social events, having the right tools, meaningful work, and time off, are vital for the mental health and wellbeing of your staff. Giving employees a safe space to let you know their feelings and sentiments towards work will foster loyalty and make your employees feel connected to the company.

These can be difficult times for all of us, with COVID impacting everyone in different ways. By providing employees with the right support, you'll keep them motivated, happy, and much more productive. That will translate into a better work environment and experience for your customers!

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