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Maintaining Productivity and Motivation During COVID-19

Keeping up employee morale during a crisis can be challenging. With almost the entire world under some sort of lockdown due to COVID-19, managers are faced with not only keeping their employees motivated, but doing so remotely.

Every day seems to add new challenges to the list. Each one, taken on its own, might be a roadblock, but one bypassed with a little creative work. But, several at once, with more being added daily, can seem insurmountable at times.

Technology, while no substitute for actual face-to-face contact, makes communication possible in a way that it wasn’t even 10 years ago. MaRS, a not-for-profit corporation based in Toronto, Canada, focuses on commercializing publicly funded medical research and other technologies, has published a list of suggestions to keep your employees engaged and productive during this time.

Include Everyone

Among their suggestions is to engage your team in planning your response to COVID-19. Together, you should determine on what responsibilities and projects your staff should focus in the short term. Providing decision-making opportunities can help your employees feel valued and can help their mental health.

State Your Objectives

Linking work to specific objectives makes it easier to track productivity. Employment website Staffing Industry Analysts agrees this step is valuable. “One of the top engagement drivers for employees is seeing their work contribute to company goals,” says Brian Kropp, chief of research for Gartner HR. “Employees who feel confident about the importance of their job to the success of the organization feel less anxious about their job security.”

Stay Flexible

MaRS also recommends being flexible with work hours and productivity. Adjusting to working remotely full-time can take a while and there are many distractions while becoming used to it. Trust that your employees care about the company and your mission. Since many schools are closed, parents are also having to deal with having their children home all the time and may need to help them keep up with school work until the summer break.

Another good step to take is to provide an anchor and reinforce what’s not changing during these tumultuous times. This can provide a much-needed sense of stability.

Show Appreciation

Regardless whether your employees are working remotely or still working on-site, don’t forget to show appreciation for their efforts. Morale will be affected by the daily grind of upsetting news; it’s important to do your part to keep spirits up.

We must, however, temper our desire to keep business moving along as usual with recognition of the fact that we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that is traumatic for many, if not the majority of people. All over the world, families are isolated from each other. Loved ones are battling COVID-19 in ICUs, on ventilators, completely cut off from the rest of their families. First responders, nurses, doctors and other health care professionals are potentially exposed every day they work and thus, must keep themselves isolated from their families, their emotional support.They’re on edge constantly defending against an intangible threat. Some have already lost friends or members of their family. We are all going through a collective trauma and every individual responds to these stressors differently.

Stay Compassionate

Keep compassion foremost in your mind and offer words of encouragement and support that don’t minimize what everyone is experiencing. Now, more than ever, we need to work together to make it through this. We will persevere.

The North American Retail Hardware Association is hosting a town hall on Wednesday, April 22 at 4 p.m. EDT. Open to all independent home improvement operators, the town hall will be a chance to discuss how retailers are continuing to serve their communities and keep employees safe amid stay-at-home orders and new health and safety guidelines. Plan to attend to hear how other retailers are helping their employees stay motivated and productive.

Be sure you’re subscribed to Hardware Retailing to ensure you stay up-to-date on the latest developments about how this crisis is affecting our industry.

About Hans Cummings

Hans Cummings
Born in Indiana and raised in Indiana, Germany and Virginia, Hans has worked for NRHA since 2001. He has a B.A. in English from Indiana University and is a published fantasy and science-fiction author. His hobbies include cooking, especially smoking meats, tabletop and video games and supporting space sciences and science education.

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