Tips to Building Team Morale During a Pandemic

The times are changing and history is writing itself one day at a time. Times like these are when we get to reflect, not just as individuals, but as companies. Companies will be remembered for how they responded during this pandemic.

In many areas, Mattress Firm has been deemed an essential retail business due to the fact that sleep is crucial, especially in times like these (to learn more on that, visit the Daily Doze to catch up on all the facts and how sleep can reduce stress and increase health!). This means that, across the nation, we have retail sales associates, operations team members and corporate support staff working as hard as they can to keep this company moving and our people motivated.

Despite the recent changes in our economy, our team members constantly find ways to be positive and make the best out of any situation. Below are just a few stories from some of our team members, sharing what they’re doing to build team morale and why being positive during this pandemic is crucial.


Jen Carver, Operations Manager: 

“It has been extremely difficult to stay motivated and to stay positive at a time like this both at home and at work.  As a leader and a parent, I have needed to keep both of my ‘families’ focused on the positive and motivated to keep going despite changes coming from every angle.  It’s not easy being a leader or a parent.  Even at the best of times it is a juggling act, trying to keep so many balls in the air.

But as a leader and a parent, it is our job to be a ‘duck’ for our teams.  As a leader, you need to present a calm, composed, unruffled exterior while on the inside paddling like hell to keep floating.  If your team sees you are calm, they remain calm.  If your team sees you stressed and negative, they will be stressed and negative.

While keeping calm, keep the environment fun yet structured to keep morale high.  We have continued with our daily Operations Updates to the sales team to help keep them engaged and to help keep morale high so our guests receive a positive mattress-buying experience. When we answer the phones at the distribution center we say, ‘Thank you for calling Mattress Firm, what’s your favorite (movie, actor, song, band, etc.)?’  It takes the ‘all-business’ feeling out of the call and adds a little fun. And to get a laugh or to be able to put a smile on their face on the other end of the phone is the best feeling right now.

Welcome questions, stay honest, stop rumors, and keep an open door for the team to come to you.  Keeping your employee’s trust is crucial at a time like this.

To keep the focus off of the present, plan and prepare for the future.  While there is not much to be able to control in the present, focusing on what could be and planning for the future helps the team feel some sort of power to stay motivated, to keep going.

In the end, we are all in this together, all the good and all the bad.  Solidarity will help hold and keep us together during this time.”


Casey Zuber, Regional Vice President:

“First off, I am blessed with an amazing team that seems to wake up each morning motivated to take on whatever the day might bring.  That said, the stress of the situation, the frequent updates and changes in information and the need to be a confident and present leader during this time can get taxing for the best among us.  I have found that during the last few weeks, the best role I can play is one of communication and support.  I do my best to organize information in a way that is digestible and appropriately timed.  I know that if my team is taken care of and has what they need, they are equipped to take care of their teams.  I try to provide good guiding principles, and then give them the runway to make the decisions that are best for their teams and their customers.

I have also had the privilege of watching our District Managers motivate their teams as well.  Everything from creating tic tac toe games to make the day more fun, to sitting and listening to their teams as they share their frustrations and fears, to selling with them side-by-side.  Every day I am impressed with the selflessness of our employees and their willingness to help one another.  That culture we’ve created over the years is more motivating than anything I could ever do.”


Moira Cater, Director – HR Operations:

“One of my first positions at Mattress Firm, I was working remote away from the corporate office in a satellite location while supporting that location and all sales associates across the 50 states. My boss and I would often say to each other that distance was as far as we made it. It is easy when working remotely to allow the distance to hinder your connection. It is easy to make things up! ‘I haven’t heard from him/her because I did something wrong’ or ‘They didn’t like such and such.’ It is much harder to challenge your feelings! But challenging our feelings is exactly what we need to do during this challenging time that can make us feel disconnected.

My tips for building team morale during this difficult time are:

  • Call more often! Take it off of email and pick up the phone. A lot can be misconstrued in writing, mainly tone. When you need your team or teammate to understand what you are saying, where you are coming from and what you are asking. Pick. Up. The. Phone. A simple phone call goes a long way to helping the team feel connected and keeping morale high!
  • Turn the cameras on! When having a team meeting, turn the cameras on. There is nothing like seeing each other’s faces to lift morale, build and/or maintain connection.
  • Connect with the Why! Ensure that you connect ‘what’ you do every day to ‘why’ you do it.
  • Make it fun! Check-in on your people. How are they doing? How is their family? What do they have planned this weekend?

Virtual Game Night or Happy Hour! It takes no resources, put your cameras on and join the team for a little fun.”


Raul Davila, Area Manager:

“During times like this when we are in the midst of a global pandemic, it is imperative to keep and maintain the moral necessary to run a successful business. Some of the ways we are keeping our teams engaged are by ramping up communication outside of face-to-face or personal contact. I find our teams making more phone calls to each other or verbally chatting on platforms like Teams or Facetime. I believe having that human interaction is vital for our company to stay profitable and for our people to still be able to bring home decent income.

One thing that I have successfully implemented in my area are chats via Teams where we can still see one another and communicate our wins and opportunities. This has been a win for us as a number of people in my area are still closing big deals. We worked together as a team before this virus and we will continue to win as a team throughout and after.”





Thank you Jen, Casey, Moira and Raul for sharing your stories. Your teams are lucky to have you. And to each of our associates: “Thank you, sincerely, for your continued commitment in the face of adversity and great work serving our customers.” – John Eck, CEO

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