For the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of challenges for everyone, especially those who work in the trade show and exhibition industry.
From events being postponed and canceled right and left to supply chain issues creating material shortages (don’t forget about the massive worker shortage sweeping the nation), people are more stressed than ever. If the difficulties of the pandemic are catching up to you and your team and affecting productivity or morale, keep reading. Listed below are some tips that can help you support and motivate them.
1. Watch for Signs of BurnoutSome people hide stress better than others, which means your team members could be struggling without you even knowing it. Because of this, it’s important to learn the common signs of burnout:
- Frequent headaches
- Withdrawing and isolating oneself from others
- Taking longer than usual to get things done
- Frequent absences/leaving early/coming in late
Be on the lookout for these signs so you can step in and offer support to your co-workers sooner, instead of waiting until issues become critical.
2. Encourage BreaksWhether someone is showing signs of burnout or not, encourage everyone on your team to take regular breaks. Stepping away from the computer, taking a personal day to relax at home, or going on a (COVID-safe) vacation can work wonders for your team members’ work-life balance and productivity. When they’re well-rested, they’ll have an easier time coping with the stress of the pandemic and be better equipped to positively represent your company at trade shows.
3. Provide Weekly Shout-OutsBeing recognized by a manager or supervisor also improves motivation and morale in the workplace. By offering weekly shout-outs, you can let your team know that you appreciate their hard work and give those who are going above and beyond some extra attention. There are lots of ways to offer shout-outs, too. You can type them in the weekly newsletter, for example, or display them on the wall in a common area. You can even announce them in person during your weekly team meeting.
4. Keep Your Door OpenLiterally and figuratively, make sure your door is always open to your team. Remind your co-workers that you’re always available and want to hear from them, especially if they’re struggling with stress or need a little motivation boost. Furthermore, when someone does come to talk to you, perhaps about their anxiety over an upcoming trade show or their frustration over another event being canceled, be sure to actively listen. Show them that you truly care and are eager to help.
5. Teach Calming TechniquesIn addition to being an active listener, it’s also helpful if you can offer practical tips. For example, consider teaching a calming technique like 4-7-8 breathing (breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale for 8 seconds) or box breathing (breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, then hold your breath for 4 seconds). These are both useful techniques that can be done at any time, whether they’re sitting at their desk or getting ready to step onto the event floor at a big trade show.
6. Schedule a Team-Building EventA team-building event like a happy hour or a trivia night is a great way to show appreciation to your team and give them a motivation boost. When they have a chance to blow off some steam and relax, it’s easier for them to navigate the constantly changing trade show world and keep their stress levels in check.
7. Schedule Regular Planning MeetingsWhen your team feels prepared for upcoming events and knows what’s on the horizon, it’s easier for them to manage their stress and maintain their mental health. You might not be able to anticipate every bump in the road. However, you and your team will be able to pivot better if you have the basics of your booths and exhibits planned in advance. Make sure you’re taking time every week to plan and prepare so you and your co-workers have fewer last-minute tasks to worry about.
8. Stay in Touch with Show RunnersFinally, do your best to stay in touch with trade showrunners and event planners. The more communication you have with them and their teams, the easier it is to keep up with logistical changes and plan for events appropriately. This helps to minimize unpleasant surprises for you and your co-workers and ensures that your events go as smoothly as possible.
Start Supporting and Motivating Your Co-Workers TodayThe more support and motivation you can provide to your team now, the easier management and employee retention will be in the future. Follow the tips outlined above so you can make the challenges of exhibiting during a pandemic a little easier for your co-workers (and yourself).