By Restine Hernandez


Everything has profoundly changed within the last few months. Our daily routine has been interrupted and it has been quite overwhelming for some. We are all trying to adjust yet continuing to ensure our daily tasks are completed in the workplace and in the home front. While staggered schedules between work and telecommuting have become the new norm in most businesses, many employees may feel the loss of human interaction as we move into a more virtual workplace. This may result in the decline of employee morale. 

Common key performance indicators for a successful business are employee satisfaction and retention. As organization and community leaders, we must continue to empathize with our employees as we all continue to find normalcy. We must continue to maintain open communication by being confident, flexible and supportive to their needs and concerns in order to promote a true work-life balance and to boost employee morale. Studies have shown that employees who think they have a positive work-life balance are more productive and dedicated to their employers.

Here are some tips of what we can do to increase employee morale and engagement during this time:

Keep open communication
Be prepared for increased communication (both formal and informal) when telecommuting. Establish communication platforms which employees may have access to. Having the right collaboration tools in place will come in handy when adjusting to telecommuting. Without the convenience of person-to-person meetings, we want to make meeting virtually as seamless as possible. Be sure that instructions for use of such tools are clear and comprehensible. 


Be mindful of personalities
Adjusting to the new norm of telecommuting is challenging. Some may be affected greater than others.  It is imperative that we are mindful of the various personalities in our teams. We may need to make the effort to accommodate social interaction with a virtual hangout for the extrovert having a difficult time adjusting to the lack of person-to-person interaction. At the same time, we need to ensure that the introvert can share ideas during virtual meetings. 


Add fun in a different way
Implement some fun activities throughout the week to take the team’s mind off everyday stresses. Here are some fun ideas you can do:

Put in a date and time in the team calendar for a virtual hangout. Get creative. Add activities during the hangout. Schedule a virtual coffee date to discuss the latest series on Netflix; create a theme where everyone wears a funny hat or something of the sort; take a stab at a virtual face yoga session; or have a virtual show and tell with hobbies picked up during quarantine. Use this time as an opportunity to have your team unwind into a safe space where they can decompress and interact with one another on a personal level. 


Don’t forget to check on your team members individually 
It has been said that a simple “How are you?” goes a long way. This holds especially true with our employees. Checking up on team members individually and seeing how they are holding up can mean the world to them. It shows that we care for them as a person. We are all experiencing some sort of stress. Connect with them by asking how their family is adjusting. We should put the “human” back into human resources. 

With all that is happening in the world, the one thing our employees will remember is how we, their organization, took care of them. It’s important to find the right pick-me-ups and activities to show our support. We may not have the right answers to give them right now. We may not always know what to say or what to do with all this uncertainty. What we must know, as leaders, is how to adjust quickly and become more empathetic, because we are all in this together. mbj


— Restine Hernandez, vice president of programs, SHRM Guam Chapter; director of human resources and learning and development, GTA Apolline San Nicolas, vice president of Public Sector, SHRM Guam Chapter; chief human resources officer; Guam Community College