Covid fatigue: how to motivate your teams

Written by Andrea Frith

Lockdown 3.0 feels slightly different. There is an end in sight and the speed in which the UK is delivering the Covid-19 vaccination programme is currently world leading. This does mean that on the surface there is much positivity but, in some cases, if you peel back some layers there are organisations and individuals that are losing the determination and energy felt during the first lockdown. Adrenaline helped us all survive the first wave, and this combined with the spring weather made the first lockdown easier.

“Covid fatigue” (not to be mistaken for long Covid, i.e. actual physical symptom of people who have had Covid) “pandemic fatigue” and “work/life fog” are a variety of different terms used to describe how people are feeling currently. It is affecting different industries and not just those that are struggling to survive during the pandemic and the recession it has/will cause.

Managers and leaders need to ensure that individuals have plans to overcome these obstacles and ensure that their team have the support and tools in place to continue to bounce back with as much vigour as previously. 

How will we lead and find the mental strength to keep going until the final finishing line?

Previously it was survival mode and a plan to thrive that kept many motivated as the false dawn of recovery came over the summer. Stamina will become the word to get us through the final stages. The excitement has gone, and motivational challenges face us all.

The role of a leader will be different and the need to manage the energy of their workforce's and to motivate and cultivate employee relationships will need to be high on any agenda. The number of people who rate their mental health as “poor” is now three times higher than before the crisis and this is likely to increase. See below a few tips to instil stamina that will keep teams motivated for the foreseeable:

Communication:   Create an understanding for what is happening within the organisation and what actions are needed in response. Display inspiration and optimism. Show compassion but balance this with a realistic framework. Honest and optimistic communication should be paramount and it should be based less around returning to normal and more about acceptance. It could be seen as an opportunity to talk not about going back to the way we were but to be better than before.

Manage the energy and mood of the team.  Accept that there may be low energy and mood, so adapt the approach that allows open conversation. Be transparent and in some cases show vulnerability yourself. The message that “it is OK not to be OK” should come from above.

Manage the work/life merge:  As working from home becomes established, employees are working more and more hours and the lack of work boundaries will be one of the strongest contributors to an energy drain.  Managers need to recognise and respect work boundaries and encourage down time. Lead by example here and leave that evening email send until 9.00 am in the morning. Even if you do not expect a response, employees naturally feel the need to act/response as a need to be dutiful. It is important to recognise that this reaction is heightened in current times as employees worry about job security.

Direct conversation and business plans for the future: Steer conversations away from what things were like and how things could have been and engage plans around the future and identify opportunities for growth and recovery. Cultivate a learning mindset with a focus on resilience and adaptability.

Encourage time out, focus on well-being: Even though there are limited options currently to enjoy time off and where employees are conscious of job insecurity, managers need to ensure employees are taking quality time off.  People need to recharge and recover. Leaders need to be seen to do this also – lead by example.

Stamina will allow organisations to complete the marathon. Be mindful of the impact of Covid fatigue as everyone will be reacting in different ways and have good and bad days.

Pertemps Managed Solutions have worked with a variety of organisations to support with recruitment needs throughout the pandemic. Please contact me on andrea.frith@pertemps.co.uk for further information.

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