How staff productivity and morale can help SMEs during the Covid-19 crisis

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The Covid-19 pandemic is not only one of the biggest threats to public safety since World War II; it has also created one of the biggest threats to the economy in peacetime. It has put an immense amount of pressure on SMEs up and down the country. Many have been forced to close their doors, digitise their services and even, in some cases, let go of their staff. Very few small businesses will find themselves safe from the adverse effects of the coronavirus crisis. However, there are ways in which they can offset some of these effects by supporting their staff.

SMEs will only continue to struggle without the morale and productivity of employees that are determined to help the company weather this unprecedented crisis. With many staff members working from home, it is essential that all of the necessary equipment and supplies are provided for employees to work at full capacity. Line managers should liaise with their employees to ensure they have access to high speed wireless internet, laptops and any other tools they would ordinarily have in the office. “As home working to prevent the spread of coronavirus is a temporary measure, both employers and employees should work together in agreeing what makes a suitable workstation at home,” says HR and health and safety experts Citation as part of their Covid-19 advice. “Consider the cost and availability of additional equipment, IT hardware and software to facilitate home working.”

Businesses must also look after the physical wellbeing of their employees to ensure they are working at full capacity. People Management reports that there has been an increase in physical complaints from staff working remotely. More than half of respondents in a survey of 500 people reported new aches and pains associated with bad posture, including in their necks (58 per cent), shoulders (56 per cent) and backs (55 per cent). Stuart Nottingham, director of Sun Rehabilitation, said: “Health and Safety Executive guidelines state a laptop is a temporary work device because of posture”. He added that ‘workers need to lift their laptops on to a riser or stack of books to position it at a comfortable height, and use a separate keyboard and mouse’.

There is much more to staff morale, however, than facilitating a remote working space from which they can perform their daily tasks easily, quickly and comfortably. Managers should also be considerate of their employees’ mental and emotional wellbeing. These frightening times, compounded by loneliness and anxieties around job security, may be leaving many people’s mental wellbeing under duress. Mind, one of the leading charities supporting mental health, suggests ways in which line managers can help their workforce stay positive. They stress the importance of regular one-to-ones, video conferencing and implementing a Wellness Action Plan.

Line managers should utilise the myriad of project management tools available to workers at this time as well. Platforms like Monday, Asana, Trello and Basecamp are ideal for streamlining their team’s work. With them, managers can set tasks, assign team members and set deadlines for when tasks should be completed. Social Media Today has a useful guide to 50 tools and apps that may be valuable to SMEs. Managers can also help staff productivity by ensuring documentation is always stored online as well as on paper. This can be done securely with file sharing platforms like Google Drive.

Sophia Wright
Sophia Wright is a writer and researcher for Customer Service Guru, having worked in the consumer marketing profession as a Customer Relations manager and consultant for the last seven years. Her knowledge and expertise have led to her having articles published on several major leading customer care and consumer industry blogs, as well as in a handful of up and coming trade magazines. When it comes to consumerism, Sophia is compelled by new and pioneering marketing techniques that put customers at the heart of success and growth. She values platforms for discussion regarding the satisfaction

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