5 Things Companies Can Do To Boost Morale In Tough Times
It has been many months of unrest in Hong Kong, and regardless of which side you’re on, many of our hearts have been breaking over the recent happenings. With news, photos and videos being spread like wildfire across social media and chat messaging platforms, most of us can’t avoid it or catch a breather either (although, do we want to?).
As tensions increase, we couldn’t help but think of our team members and colleagues who are all locals. They clearly love Hong Kong and this IS their home. As a company, what could we do for them to help everyone get through this? Regardless of their individual stances on the issues, could we at the very least try, in our own small ways, to make things better?
Here are some things we have done at OpenMinds to improve morale over the last few months, while it may not be the absolute greatest, we do want to try our best to share.
1. Practice empathy regardless of political views at the office.
The key word here is ’empathy’. Our team members have views that span the political spectrum, but the team understands that essentially, we’re all people who genuinely like working with each other and get along very well … what “side” we’re on doesn’t change that. We have had many in-depth discussions that I felt were quite healthy – everyone got to voice their concerns, explain the ‘why”s behind their reasoning and even consoled each other in the end.
It is also crucial not to tear down another person’s POV regardless of what *you* think about it – mutual respect and healthy debate are key.
2. While economic conditions are tough, continue to invest in team activities.
We get it, we really do – the recent months haven’t been the best for quite a number of businesses out there. While most companies have been cost-cutting on “leisure” activities, we have been spending more on this. Team dinners, birthday parties, and random gaming sessions have been hosted more regularly, as we believe that everyone needs a breather. We are also organising our annual year-end trip in Phuket this December; getting our team out of the city for a much-needed week-long break.
Rejuvenate, refresh and recharge.
These team activities also allow us to have random creative bursts of ideas – out-of-office discussions are great for these!
3. Offer professional help, moral support and flexible work conditions.
If a team member is obviously distressed, the company will be ready to offer professional help, counseling options and moral support. Ultimately, we believe that creating a supportive atmosphere will lead to an increase in morale, more so in recent times.
But communication is a two-way street; while we try to check in on the team often, we’re also always trying to encourage an open dialogue and for anyone to reach out anytime they feel they’d need help.
We’ve also been encouraging our team members to work from home or take a day off whenever the situation seems tense.
4. Company leaders should be respectful and portray a neutral stance at work.
This may be a tad controversial as we understand the issues at stake; and for both camps, supporters feel like more business leaders should speak up and join their crusade. However, it is dangerous for company leaders to pick a stance as it could leave believers of opposing sides feeling undermined or threatened – and cause a general tenser environment at work. As such, those in leadership positions may need to put the needs of their colleagues first by being politically neutral at work, leaving politics out of the office.
5. Look towards a long-term strategy to improve your company culture, putting the wellness and needs of your employees first.
In a city notorious for its long working hours of employees (This report states out of 3.43 million employees, excluding foreign domestic workers, 382,000, or 11 percent worked at least 60 hours a week. Around 32,000, or 0.9 percent, put in 75 hours or more a week.), it doesn’t surprise us too much to see the sad state of affairs in Hong Kong.
Companies (both corporates and startups) may have to start rethinking their culture and prioritise a “people first” approach; focusing on individual development and the mental wellbeing of all employees. This will create a better work environment for future generations, leading to a higher work-life balance and overall happiness of individuals in Hong Kong.
We are strongly against OTing (or the infamous 9-9-6 startup culture) at our workplace, and we genuinely believe that happier, healthier team members who get to spend enough time with their families will be more productive in the long run. We also want to experiment with implementing a 4-day work week and how it affects employee morale + productivity levels. If that happens, we’ll definitely write about it.
The above 5 suggestions are what *we* are doing at OpenMinds throughout recent times in Hong Kong, and we do want to evolve and pivot should we feel there are better approaches in the coming months. We love this city and our hearts and prayers are with Hong Kong.
Have any suggestions on more ways companies can look to supporting their employees, or are you personally practicing something different that works? Do share it with us!