Kimberly Hale I'm a product leader with 10+ years experience in building software. I spend my time outside of work being a mom, blogging, and teaching group fitness classes. I firmly believe there is no limit to what you can achieve out of your life if you put your mind to it.

How to improve team morale in uncertain times

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How To Improve Team Morale

Let’s face it, the world has been going through a lot of uncertainty over the past several years. We continue to have to evolve the way we operate at home and work to match the changing times. We have been dealing with a really tough economic situation that is impacting the way we do work now and in the future. Businesses have been forced to evaluate the way they run their companies and react through layoffs, scrutinizing who and how they do business and more.

These significant life changes have taken a toll on everyone. The uncertainty in the future of the economy and concern for job security have left employees uneasy, disengaged, unsatisfied, and overworked. Employee morale has gone down. As someone who is fortunate to still be employed after a round of layoffs, I can tell you first hand the effect on employees is real.

Now more than ever, taking time to put the focus back on the employees and teams is essential in building up morale and ensuring employees feel like they matter. In this article, we’ll talk about how to improve employee and team morale in these uncertain times. Let’s get started.

Table of contents

The current state of the technology sector

Turn on the news (for those of you still with cable) or pursue the headlines of any online news source. You can’t help but continue to see headlines related to layoffs, data privacy breaches, new compliance laws…the list goes on.

This heavily impacted most industries across the board during the pandemic and still continues to haunt us three years later. The technology industry has been the latest industry going through changes.

During the pandemic, the technology industry had it pretty darn good. Stocks remained strong and business persisted as usual. The most significant change the technology sector faced was to adapt to a remote or hybrid workforce, which allowed the industry to continue to stay up and minimally impacted during those trying times. In fact, in many cases, hiring went up as the demand for technology and automation soared.

Fast forward to the present, post-pandemic world, the story has started to change. Over the past year technology stocks have declined, companies that once invested in technology have been rethinking who they invest in, budgets have gotten tighter, and the spotlight is on data privacy and how data is being stored and used. This change has resulted in heightened rules around compliance and companies second-guessing who they do business with.

In the past year, we have heard of some of the biggest company names like Facebook, Google, and Salesforce laying off large numbers of very talented employees and other companies removing the once coveted perks.

Side effects for employees and teams

As a result of these rather brutal macroeconomic conditions, many companies have started tightening their bottom line as they eagerly race to increase revenue. You see companies “right-sizing” their workforce, reducing the bloat acquired during the pandemic and making cuts in perks and benefits (which was a huge satisfaction factor for employees).

At the end of the day, while the bottom line matters, it’s the people behind creating and selling those products and services that matter the most. Given the current state of events, I can tell you first hand this has left employees and teams feeling uncertain, disengaged, and anxious about the future. Not to mention being overworked with smaller teams managing the same amount of work and often feeling siloed working from home away from the intimate group office settings.

Now more than ever, it is critical to invest in improving employee and team morale.

Ways to improve employee and team morale

As employees, we want to do a great job. We want to believe in our company and its vision and be a part of that culture. It’s just hard given the shifting demands and ever-changing economy to stay happy, engaged, and motivated. The good news is, there are several actions leaders can take starting today to improve the overall morale of their employees and teams.

Give employees a safe space to communicate

Employees not only want to be kept in the know of what is going on at their company, but also that their voices are being heard. Giving employees a space for them to share their ideas and ask questions goes a long way. Some ways to increase communication across the business include:

  • Continuing to leverage employee engagement surveys and following up with employees based on the results of those surveys. Make sure to follow up with actionable ways to address their concerns
  • Setting up a regular leadership town hall to keep employees updated on what’s going on at the company — from keeping them up to date on the company’s vision to greeting new employees or celebrating anniversaries with the group
  • Organizing regular team syncs where your team can talk freely about what is on their mind. Make sure to take notes and follow up on action items from these meetings

Be respectful of work-life balance

According to Deloitte’s study on workplace burnout, the biggest contributors to employee burnout were: lack of support or recognition from leadership, unrealistic deadlines, and consistently working long hours. With the staggering number of employees working from home or hybrid, work-life balance has been more challenging than ever. But simple practices to instate can go a long way:

  • Remind employees to take time off — Everyone gets busy and focused, but taking time away for oneself brings you back stronger and more focused. Give employees a break!
  • Set boundaries on off-hours communication — We live in a world of 24/7 technology. With remote teams spanning all over the world and tools like Slack, Teams, and even Microsoft Outlook, we are always plugged in. Find a time that works for most time zones on your team to schedule meetings and stick to it. Also, stress leaving work at home. Unless directly critical issues arise giving employees downtown at home with their families will give them time to reset, decompress and come back recharged for the next workday
  • Re-evaluate deadlines especially if team size has been impacted — It doesn’t make sense to continue to march toward the same deadlines you had before with a larger team if the team size has changed. This puts unnecessary stress and pressure on the team to meet potentially unrealistic deadlines given team size and bandwidth

Be an advocate for professional development

Discuss opportunities for growth with your employees and team. Even if the perks that existed before have gone away (like unlimited PTO, paid groceries, or wellness benefits) you can still encourage employees to feel rewarded and challenged.

Helping upskill your employees not only gives them opportunities to grow and earn higher positions and salaries, but it also uplevels the company overall. Spend some time in your one-on-ones carving out a development plan with your employees and give them a place to set goals and ultimately look forward to upon achieving them.

Have fun

Lastly, we’ve all heard the proverb “All work, no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Life is too short to make already long days even longer and mentally taxing, make time for fun.

Spend some time biweekly or monthly bonding as a team. This could mean something like if close by meeting up for an adventure or meal. For remote teams, if it’s not in the budget to do something like a quarterly meetup, find and schedule time regularly to decompress as a team. There are so many fun virtual tools out there to play to get to know team members.

  • Drawasarus — This is an entertaining virtual pictionary game sure to get your team laughing
  • Have teammates take turns talking about their hobbies or showing the team a skill they know like team cooking or crafting
  • Spend some time going through icebreaker questions
  • Do an online puzzle together like this one from Puzzle Garage!

There is a silver lining…

There are so many benefits to having happy, engaged employees and teams. When employees are engaged they perform better overall. They are invested in the company’s vision and mission, feel closer to their fellow coworkers, participate in more company initiatives and ultimately produce higher quality work on account of it.

In fact, according to Gallup’s Employee Engagement survey companies with a highly engaged employee base see 21 percent higher profitability and 17 percent higher productivity!


We don’t know what the future holds. Even in these uncertain times where tomorrow is promised to no one and automation and AI continue to take over simple, everyday human tasks; what we do know is how critical the human element remains in our companies, teams, and lives.

Taking that extra time to give employees a voice, allowing for breaks, upskilling, and allocating time for work-life balance and fun are imperative to building and maintaining productive, happy teams.

Featured image source: IconScout

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Kimberly Hale I'm a product leader with 10+ years experience in building software. I spend my time outside of work being a mom, blogging, and teaching group fitness classes. I firmly believe there is no limit to what you can achieve out of your life if you put your mind to it.

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