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In the midst of COVID-19, how would your organization work to overcome low employee morale? Start with caring for your colleagues and go from there. Find out how it works in what follows…


We all know COVID-19 has hit us worldwide and to date, has shown no signs of slowing down! The economy collapsed worldwide with businesses closing and employee morale sinking. But, since then, we’ve made great progress in recovery.


Soon after the pandemic struck, working from home (WFH) became the only way to survive, so that’s what our organization did. During India’s three-month lockdown beginning in March 2020, we embraced WFH as a positive way to take advantage of a great opportunity.

But, about four months after launching WFH, our staff started dealing with boredom and low motivation arising mostly from:

  • fewer rewards,
  • lack of team spirit, and
  • difficulties adjusting to a new management style.

This article briefly describes each challenge and provides tips on how it can be overcome.

Fewer rewards

In a study carried out at the Polytechnic University of Valencia on employee motivation, lead researcher Lourdes Canós-Darós concluded, “The importance of reward policy in motivation is remarkable.” In a work setting, her list of external motivation factors includes recognition, performance management, training, promotion, communication and the creation of a positive environment. Many of these rewards are naturally absent or diminished if you are working from home.2

Lack of team spirit

Remember the pre-pandemic days when we discussed typical office realities like stressed schedules, and frustrations? What we often ignored was the fun time and excitement we shared with our team members, the contentment of experiencing many live events and gatherings, board meetings and the unending discussions over coffee.

Now that we are working in isolation within four walls, we remember the best of these memories, recalling more of the highlights than the negative experiences.

Adjusting to a new management style

Managers may have difficutlies adjusting to such a dramatic change 


in their environment and team dynamics. The lack of in-person contact with their teams requires a different way of operating and encouraging productivity.

One of my friends mentioned to me, “My boss always messages me at 8 am asking what my work plan is for the day then emails every 10 minutes asking me to do things, stopping me from working effectively and getting stuck into things.”

I won’t blame this entirely on my friend’s boss, as he or she must be finding the scenario strange and difficult to manage as well.

So, what’s the way out?

Here are some ways I keep my team motivated to complete assigned tasks.

Say thank you!

I did this when I was directing the human resources function in my 


organization. A thank you card. It’s simple. 

You might write a card printed with Thank You to let a team member know he or she is valued. You can really make an employee’s day by making him or her feel admired.

Let’s talk about anything – but not work

Work, work, work… The pressure is all over. We focus on numbers, tasks, emails and responses without even realizing the hidden stress that has built up due to continuous work from home in an unusual scenario. At home, we cannot step out to share a drink with our buddies or stroll through a mall to relax. So, this is what is required. Plan a day perhaps when the team meeting might allow enough time to talk about something other than work. Reassure your team that you understand they need to smile as well!

Think beyond work

I am among the few fortunate to be working with an organization that thinks beyond work. We have regular webinars on health and wellbeing, for example, mental health, stress management and how to safeguard your health. We have regular yoga sessions, knowledge-sharing sessions and unstoppable events. This keeps one excited to participate, and the events are planned to get employees’ families involved too. Try a monsoon masti (shift in the wind) game or exercise, a COVID-19 scenario poster, or a day spent with family. There are many more creative ideas you can come up with to “think beyond work.”

It’s important to have these sessions regularly to help break up the usual routines.

Communicate and conduct townhalls

Communication is key and these days it is essential. So, make sure you communicate regularly with your teams throughout the organization and conduct regular townhalls to keep them appraised of current events in the business.

Respect privacy and be considerate

A little courtesy will earn you greater respect!   During normal times, it’s natural to put your office out of your mind as soon as you step outside the office to go home or leave for vacation. But I’m sure we all can reveal examples when prolonged working from home led to blurring our boundaries. I often have been told by my friends about the times they have been contacted to do extra work during late hours or on weekends. We are dealing with humans. We need to respect their privacy.

From your perspective as an employee, why not try the following?

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
  2. Set out your expectations with your boss.
  3. Plan your tasks well.
  4. Take frequent breaks.
  5. Don’t overstress and do keep resorting to stress busters in between (a power nap, music).

A word from the wise

While working from home can provide an amazing sense of freedom


and flexibility as well as a no-cost commute, be aware of pitfalls and hidden stressors. By focusing on what you can do to mitigate this stress, you can enjoy the added benefits of working from home without the added stress. This is a great step towards achieving an ideal work-life balance.


Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC):

SMEC is a global engineering, management and development consultancy delivering technical excellence and specialist solutions to our clients, partners and communities. SMEC, a member of the Surbana Jurong Group headquartered in Singapore, has a global workforce of 16,000 employees across 120 offices in more than 40 countries in Asia, Australia, UK, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.       


  1. Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC)
  2. An article by Emma Cullian, psychotherapist and writer, titled Why we lack motivation to work during a global pandemic, April 8, 2020

 Become an IACCM member today

Mohit Khullar Head - Management Services, SMEC (India) – a Surbana Jurong Group Company

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