The coronavirus pandemic has shifted normal business operations to being remote. Employees now work from home to uphold social distancing and quarantine guidelines. Though these steps are necessary for flattening the curve and stopping the virus, remote work and the stressful circumstances associated with it can lower employee morale.

Luckily, there are affordable ways to boost employee morale during the coronavirus pandemic. Even as states begin to see COVID-19 slowing, remote work is likely to stick around for a while. Boosting employee morale during this time is imperative. It’s an anxiety-inducing time for everyone — creating a support system through work is an overarching way to help. The following tips create that support system:

1. Communication

One of the most crucial and evergreen aspects of a business is communication. Now more than ever, having ways to connect and talk is vital. Since working from home doesn’t allow face-to-face interactions, you might not know how an employee is feeling or where their morale level is at.

If you want to help, it’s first necessary to address the primary issue — the coronavirus. Employees will want to talk about it, so it’s important to do so. The pandemic creates a stressful situation, and fostering a conversation around it will help you and your employees support one another.

Remember that you can emphasize both the importance of continuing good work and employing useful mental health practices. You can encourage a healthy work-life balance while making sure conversations remain open and honest.

2. Check-Ins

Virtual connections like video or audio calls are the primary method of communication during this time. You and your employees can use video chatting as a way to check in with one another. These conversations can take on multiple forms.

You might take a simple coffee break during the day. Co-workers can take some time to talk about their days, work or interests while relaxing. These breaks can be longer, too, and take the form of a check-in.

Mental health is equally as important as physical health. Isolation can cause loneliness or depression for some. As an employer, you can open up that conversation through weekly check-ins to make sure everyone is doing well and has the support they need.

Co-workers can share tips for staying healthy, activities for keeping busy, positive news and general support for one another. Working from home during the pandemic is isolating, but check-ins will help.

3. COVID-19 Updates

Part of the outbreak’s complexity is that it varies by continent, country and state. Restrictions may lift in some areas while they get stricter in other places. It’s essential to find the information pertinent to your business and give your employees a rundown.

When you provide them with facts, it can ease their anxiety and uncertainty. New information comes up every day that could be relevant to your company. Some businesses will open soon, while others stay closed. Knowing what’s going on around you keeps you alert, so you know what actions to take.

Keeping employees in the loop addresses the elephant in the room and lets them know you’re providing a space for this conversation. You can also share tips for staying healthy, both physically and mentally. Some people may be dealing with more at home than others, too — remember to consider that aspect.

4. Team Activities

Though your team might not be able to be together in person for a while, you can encourage activities that bring everyone closer. These things could be something as simple as a “paint and sip” after hours. Another option is to develop group fitness goals and work toward them together.

A sales competition is an engaging activity that offers business-oriented goals to work toward. With these events, you can encourage friendly competition and use incentives to drive productivity and efficiency. Work-based goals will help people dive into their tasks and put the pandemic at the back of their minds for a few hours — something critical for mental health.

When a job responsibility like a sales competition receives a competitive spin, people may feel closer to their co-workers, which can increase productivity and happiness.

5. Health Care Resources

Physical and mental health are both at risk during this pandemic. Whether people are dealing with the virus, anxiety, depression or grief, health care resources are a must. Now could be a convenient time to revisit policies and see what employee health care benefits cover. Many health care services have become virtual — telehealth has been the main platform for treatment during the coronavirus crisis. You can see what changes you can make to fit this transition.

Additionally, you can find online resources for learning about the virus and its symptoms, plus other tools for maintaining mental health practices. Employees will appreciate the support in any form.

6. Feedback

Like communication, feedback is another evergreen element that keeps a company afloat. Feedback is a two-way street. You can give and receive feedback with employees so everyone can support each other while meeting company needs.

Through a call or survey, you can ask questions about a worker’s current position, morale and more. How are they feeling about their job during this pandemic? What challenges are they facing? Are there ways you can help?

Answering these questions can make for a better time in quarantine. More communication and more feedback will result in increased support and better employee morale.

Increasing Morale Is Free

These ways to boost employee morale are affordable or even free, depending on your available resources. Building connections virtually is the underlying theme. When you support employees, their resolve will improve, and they can then help their co-workers. COVID-19 is creating a challenging time for everyone, but with these tools, you can smooth the adjustment.