24%: Percentage of small and medium-sized businesses that say maintaining morale is their biggest challenge during the pandemic

When asked by payroll administrator TriNet about their single biggest challenge to managing their workforce during the pandemic, the No. 1 response of small and medium-sized businesses was maintaining morale, cited by nearly a quarter of respondents. The other top answers were managing employee workload (14%), unknown employee availability/ambiguous working hours (9%) and lower level of engagement (9%).


What it means to HR leaders

A strong company culture with positive morale is always essential—but it’s especially important in light of the coronavirus pandemic. “There is no playbook for this pandemic,” says Cathy Manginelli, vice president of talent management at TriNet. “Everyone is learning as they go—and it is undeniably challenging.”

To help boost morale, employees need to see actions “that demonstrate their employers have a strategy in place, that they care and they are being supported,” Manginelli says. “Boosting morale begins with communication and involves continually listening to the needs of your employees and taking action accordingly.”

Some of the ways employers could boost morale during this time—which TriNet says it does for its employees—include: Host virtual “coffee talks” for all employees on various topics; implement a comprehensive communication plan to stay engaged with employees; roll out a wellness strategy that is focused on mindfulness and meditation; and allow flexibility and encourage employees to take time paid time off.