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Ways to keep employees motivated when working from home

12 April 2021

Are you finding it a challenge to keep your team motivated and focused as we continue to adjust to a remote working environment? Some employees may have grown tired of their home working routine and are feeling bored (also called “bore out”). Others may be feeling overworked (known as “burn out”) or are struggling to maintain concentration and production levels.

Whatever the reason, there are lots of things that you can do to drive your team’s performance. Here are tips and information to help you spot signs of unhappiness, and keep employees feeling motivated and focused.

Watch out for burn out or bore out

The pandemic has presented all of us with unique challenges, which may be affecting work performance. The blurred lines between our professional and personal lives can mean longer working hours and more chances of your team feeling unmotivated.

Watch out for any key signs of stress or uncharacteristic changes in an employees’ behaviour at work. For example, you might have noticed that a team member is:

  • making unexpected mistakes at work
  • not performing as well as usual in their role
  • being unusually quiet or withdrawn in team meetings
  • spending less time socialising online with colleagues
  • feeling tired and lacking energy
  • stressed

If you suspect that one or more of your team members is finding it hard to stay motivated or focused, you can help them by fostering a work culture that’s open and supportive. Make sure you review workload and assignments regularly to avoid placing employees under too much pressure.

Stay in touch

Head of Advice and Occupational Health Services at Bupa UK, Kirstin Newman agrees, and stresses the importance of making time for supportive but focussed conversations. “Being open about the challenges can play a key role in getting the best outcomes for both the employee and business.”

“Schedule regular check-ins to find out how they’re doing. This can help managers to spot if someone may be struggling to stay motivated or have burn out. They could then put appropriate measures in place at work to support them.”

Try setting up regular team calls, where team members can discuss non work-related items, and share any inspiring positive thoughts and experiences, or concerns, that might be on their mind.

Set realistic work goals together

Senior Behaviour Change Advisor at Bupa UK, Juliet Hodges advises that this might not be the best time to start introducing challenging goals or projects. “It’s important to be mindful that some team members may be struggling to juggle other commitments, such as childcare, or looking after a vulnerable member of their family.”

Instead Hodges suggests setting small goals related to wellbeing as a great way to inject some new motivation and enthusiasm into your team’s working day. “We tend to think about setting goals on a desired outcome basis. For example, what do we want to achieve, and when do we want to achieve it by? However, it can be more effective to look at goals in the reverse, focusing instead on the process of adopting a new behaviour into your routine and prioritising consistency over results.”

To help combat the feeling of being easily distracted, Hodges also encourages all employees to incorporate mindfulness sessions at set times throughout their working day. “Discussing behaviour-led changes and setting them, together with your team, should help to make those changes feel more achievable.”

There’s also plenty of evidence to suggest that mindfulness can help to improve relationships at work, and create successful and supportive teams.

Provide support

When it comes to thinking about practical steps you can take, there are a number of other things you can do to help employees feel motivated and engaged when working from home.

  • Be flexible. Support your team to overcome any barriers they might be facing at home to help them do their job effectively. For example, being flexible with their working hours if needed, will help to motivate your team, both now and in the future.
  • Set achievable goals. Encourage colleagues to set goals that are achievable and to keep on track with repeating the behaviours linked to achieving their goals. Repetition is key to making a behaviour run like clockwork (e.g. doing stretching exercises at least once a day so it becomes routine like brushing your teeth). It can be helpful to link these behaviours to existing habits too, like their morning routine or when they close their laptop for the day.
  • Encourage healthy habits. Think about how the changes in routine might be affecting staff wellbeing. If they are moving less, remind your team to get up and stretch often. You can even include this in team meetings, or suggest people dial into their one-to-ones so they can go for a walk. Check that they have completed a workstation assessment and have everything they need.
  • Communicate regularly. By keeping in contact with your team and working together to support them towards achievable goals, you can help to keep motivation levels high, and strengthen team morale.
  • Lead by example. Your team will look to you for reassurance, guidance and motivation during these times, so try and lead by example. Share your own achievements and challenges. Tell the team what’s helping you to stay healthy and focused.
  • Celebrate success. It’s important to recognise and celebrate achievements, especially at the moment, when your staff are more likely to feel disconnected and undervalued. Letting people know that you value their contribution and support at this difficult time can really help to boost their performance and success.


Sources

  • Stress in the workplace. What is work-related stress? Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. www.cipd.co.uk, published 9 April 2019
  • Stress in the workplace. Signs of stress. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, www.cipd.co.uk, published 9 April 2019
  • Mental health. Oxford handbook of general practice. Oxford Medicine Online. www.oxfordmedicine.com, published April 2014
  • Feeling stressed. What does stress feel like? Royal College of Psychiatrists. Royal College of Psychiatrists, published June 2015
  • Bupa. Workplace Wellbeing Census. www.bupa.co.uk Published November 2019
  • Building the case for mindfulness in the workplace (3.2 relationships). The Mindfulness Initiative. themindfulnessinitiative.org.uk, published October 2016
  • Gardner B, Lally P, Wardle J. Making health habitual: the psychology of 'habit-formation' and general practice. Br J Gen Pract 2012; 62(605):664–66. doi: 10.3399/bjgp12X65946

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