Nimesh Shah: The HR secrets to getting your employees out of a March slump

Usually your workforce come to the office full of zest, but not lately. They seem to be going through the motions. You know how driven they can be so it’s frustrating to see that the spark has gone.  What’s going on? The bad news is it’s a March slump. The good news is that it’s fixable.

Work closely with the leadership team

HR departments need to work in synch with their leadership team who are a powerful contributor to employee morale. They need to show management how to improve the quality of their interaction with employees on a day to day basis.

As a starting point, bosses need to show their softer side so that employees don’t see them as unapproachable superiors but as a human being. They could lighten the atmosphere by smiling, laughing and from time to time participate in conversation that’s not always work related. It’s vital to build rapport with the staff that you worked so hard to recruit.

Clearly there isn’t a one size fits all approach to dealing with low employee morale. But to make staff feel valued, call them by their names, make eye contact when talking to them and personally say thank you. Taking the time to show appreciation will help motivate your workforce.

The 80s office

When so much work is dependent on using a screen there are small changes leaders can make that are inspired by a 1980’s office setting which will make a difference to employee wellbeing. HR must encourage bosses to stop firing e-mails and instead try picking up the phone and talking to employees.  It would be even better if they could walk across the office and have a face to face discussion. They must keep open lines of communication and have an open-door policy.

Follow the leader

If employees are expected to keep up with their bosses by checking their e-mails 24/7 to stay ahead of the game, then they won’t be coming to work feeling fresh and raring to start the day. Encourage management to ditch the emails when they’re out of office and they should tell their teams to do the same.

Management should be told to take a proper lunch break and their staff must do the same. This healthy habit will stop employees from glaring at their computer screens. We’re well aware of how damaging screen time can be to health and productivity. If everyone gets a proper break and some fresh air, they will feel refuelled and rested and be much more productive in the afternoon.

Leavism

Leavism has been labelled as the new scourge of working life. This is where employees take their annual leave to catch up on their backlog of work and check emails to keep ahead of the game.  The aim is to appear keen and competitive and to keep their job secure. Bosses should be encouraging staff to take their annual leave to rest and enjoy their well-earned break. Whilst they are on annual leave management should not bother them with emails.  When they get back, they’ll be invigorated.

A sense of purpose

The HR team sees a bright future for the company, but employees need to see it too.  Otherwise you’ll be faced with the attitude of “my work doesn’t matter” and “why do I bother, no one cares.” Be transparent and communicate your company vision and goals. Your workforce will be driven if they have confidence in their leaders and if they can see how their actions can contribute towards the bigger picture.

Leaders are great listeners

Employee morale has a direct effect of productivity, so HR needs to encourage the business leaders to listen to the workforce.  By giving them the confidence to suggest ideas, employee morale will be boosted as they will feel that their opinions matter. The business will also benefit, by expecting the best from your staff, you’ll get the best from them.

Let’s get physical

You’ve heard the saying; a healthy body equals a healthy mind. Our working world is designed so that we are sitting for eight hours a day. This is the most passive thing you can do which means that you’re not metabolising sugars and fats.  Research shows that long periods of sitting can have a detrimental impact on our health and wellbeing and cut years off our lives. The World Health Organisation (WHO) listed inactivity as the fourth biggest risk factor in global adult mortality. Try, to encourage mood boosting healthy habits. Why not inject a bit of fun during a Friday post lunch slump and introduce some deskercise?

Office interiors

HR departments should also review the office environment. Employees want to spend time in an office that looks good. How about painting the walls a new colour and rearranging the furniture?  You could also introduce some new artwork to the walls. Motivational messages are good but don’t over do it. Mix it up with some interesting artwork.

The addition of seasonal flowers and plants can help to soften the feel of an office environment plus it gives the office a lovely aroma. It’s important to keep the office feeling fresh, a warm stuffy office can make employees feel sleepy especially during the post lunch period so from time to time open the windows for some fresh air.

Conclusion

Getting employees to work to their skills and potential should not be like pulling teeth. HR departments hold the cards to creating a better working environment and culture. By working closely with management, you can boost employee morale during this March slump. It isn’t difficult, but it does take time and commitment.