This years annual Business Day Out held by Commerce Ballarat looked a little different. Instead, due to COVID-19, it was Business Day In; in front of your computer, via Zoom, from the comfort of your workplace or wherever you wanted to base yourself for the day. It was a great initiative from the Commerce Ballarat team who were able to innovate and pivot quickly to bring the opportunity to the Ballarat business world.

I had the privilege of participating in the HR Panel along with Tim Walsh, Managing Director of JK Personnel and Dr Soma Pillay, Senior Lecturer and Professor, Federation Business School. Our topic of discussion was Managing Teams Under Difficult Circumstances.

A pretty hot topic given the environment we are all trying to navigate our way through because of COVID-19.  Based on the information we shared as a panel and what we are seeing in the business community and the questions asked by the audience, employee engagement, productivity, motivation, and morale are the key people management challenges we are facing right now. Plus, there is the challenge of adapting our workforces to suit the changing landscape of our businesses; letting staff go, standing people down, transitioning them to working remotely and now transitioning them back as restrictions are eased.

It’s a new world of people management for all of us and we are all trying to work out the best way to navigate this new space we find ourselves in. Here are the three game changers that I shared as part of my presentation at Business Day In to help you manage productivity, motivation and morale in your workplace.

Game Changer 1: We need to be CEO’s………….Chief Energy Officers

I read about this term in a blog a few weeks back and wish I could remember who had come up with the concept so I could credit them here. It really resonated with me.

Now more than ever, as people managers we are having to work extra hard to keep the motivation, morale and energy of our team members up. We have all been experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety for a good couple of months now. The uncertainty keeps continuing and will continue even though restrictions are being eased. This heightened stress and anxiety impacts our team members in different ways. Now we also have fatigue setting in, fatigue from operating with heightened stress and anxiety levels for a period of time. We have had to be the Chief Energy Officers to keep our team positive and focused; finding new and different ways to share the wins (no matter how small they are), celebrate success and have some fun.

Game Changer 2: We need to connect with our employees and know how they are doing

A recent global study from Harvard Business School found that 40% of employees surveyed said they had not been asked by their employer since the pandemic had started how they were doing.

If your team were surveyed what would the results be? What would they say about how you as their manager had connected with them, and not just on a work level?

With the easing of restrictions and some return of our new normal, we need to maintain (or start) our connection with our team members. Things are going to get easier yet, the goal posts are simply changing for us once again.

Some of your team will be keen to transition back to work, others will be resistant.

Juggling kids returning to school will be a challenge. Parents are going to be faced with looking after kids when they get sick; they can’t send their kids to school with a runny nose anymore. They will need to take more leave, this creates more stress and anxiety. What does this mean in your workplace and your the team member?

Others will be apprehensive about hygiene standards and social distancing in the workplace. What are you putting in place and how is this being communicated to your team?

There is a massive opportunity here to get on the front foot and work through these potential challenges with your team before they become additional stresses.

Game Changer 3: Questions to ask your employees

To help you maintain productivity, morale and motivation in the workplace we need to be more human than ever and connect with every one of our employees on a personal level to help and support them. To get the conversation started here are some questions you might like to consider:

What things are you dealing with in your home environment?

Knowing what they are juggling or struggling with means you can help support them. Keep asking this question, their answer will change over the coming weeks and months as our environment changes.

What do you love to do outside of work? Tell me about yourself?

This is a good one if you don’t know your team members well. This question is about getting to know what your team members love so you can ask them in future conversations about how they have been creating time to do what they love. When we talk about what we love to do we instantly feel happier and more positive.

What are you struggling with?

This is another question to ask regularly as it will change.

What makes you feel supported?

Every one of our team members is different and they need to be managed in different ways. Knowing how you can support each of your team members will help you know how to adjust your management style to suit their needs.

How do you like to communicate?

While you might love nothing more than picking up the phone and having a conversation, your team member might prefer a different method. It’s important to find a balance of what works for them and what works for you.

How are you looking after yourself (practicing self-care)?

This is our opportunity to ensure all our team members are being proactive about looking after themselves and by asking this question as managers we can gather information so we can help support the mental health of our team members.

It’s time to really get to know your employees if you are serious about maintaining productivity, motivation and morale in your workplace.



Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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