Two simple but effective ideas to build morale in your team

One of the most interesting roles of the manager is the opportunity to build an engaged, motivated team.

Too often we rely on successes and wins to energise or revitalise the workplace spirit. The most dangerous attitude in the business world must be apathy, providing a constant threat to efficiency, productivity and ultimately profitability. Though morale needs nurturing and management, often we rely on skill levels rather than personality.

How to build morale in a team?

One such lesson that I learnt was when I was working in a family-run company. The business did well, yet the morale and atmosphere were built around the hub of its sales team, and the office environment was pretty flat. I just felt it could do a whole lot better. So, two things were introduced to bring change. The first was a great receptionist. The company Directors went looking deliberately for ‘sparkle’. It wasn’t the skill of the telephone system, the booking process or the industry knowledge, they went deliberately searching for that one person who everyone loved to talk to on the phone.

Finding the ‘sparkle’

And wow did they find her! She was an ex-holiday rep with a smile that flooded every intonation of tone and powered every greeting. She was loud, boisterous and pure joy. The clients loved her, the salespeople soaked up her enthusiasm, and the business suddenly had a face, a personality. The energy levels just soared – and how much do you think that sparkle was worth to the business? The phone and computer systems were something that over time could be taught, what she had was natural.

Too often resumes and experience, although logically an important component of a professional’s life, can too easily camouflage the depth of a person’s personality and character. Which as has just been demonstrated, can be so important in what a person can truly bring to the workplace.

Two Person Standing in Silhouette Photography

Bring some fun to the working day

The second thing that was introduced was the ‘afternoon sweet run’. Such a simple thing that had a bit of fun and had so many hidden advantages! An injection of fun (and sugar) at 3pm every day did an amazing thing to raise the energy levels.

It gave the Director who was doing the round (and we had a different person each day) a great way of checking the ‘pulse’ of the business. They could visually assess the state of the team, while at the same time offering themselves in an informal situation to help develop rapport. Out of so many areas that I have tried in the past the sweet run held just so much magic. Such a small daily effort which said so much.

In summary…

Often you may hear managers rhetorically thinking aloud that they wished they could find a cure for this or an answer to that, especially when dealing with morale. Sometimes the solution lies beyond the obvious CV skillset. Sometimes the answer lies in finding that one right catalyst.

What small change could you make to boost the morale of your team?

For more inspiration and management tips, take a look at our Motivating Skills or Team Building training courses.

5 tips for planning the post-lockdown return to the office

Have you returned to the office yet or are you still working from home? Maybe you work in HR or are a manager planning your company strategy to return to the office now that lockdown restrictions have been partially or fully lifted?

Whatever your position, the journey back to office working is a complicated one. Meeting safety requirements, avoiding miscommunications and managing people’s anxiety are just some of the challenges you will face.

Read on for five useful tips to help you plan the return to your office.

Give plenty of notice

Instead of telling your staff on Friday afternoon they need to get back to the office next Monday, it’s important to give your people at least a few weeks’ notice so they can process the change in their mind. Change is never easy, especially in these tough times.

Most people have been working from home for several months and may have concerns and even feel demotivated about returning to the office. Time to process the new strategy is essential for helping people change their perception of the return.

Listen to employees’ concerns

Instead of just telling your employees they need to return to the office, try to engage in two-way conversations with them. For example, you could ask “what are your thoughts about returning to the office next month?” as opposed to “I want you in the office next month!”

Some of your staff might be at higher risk from Covid-19 or live with vulnerable family members, so may have real concerns about returning to the office. Likewise, some staff might still have children at home and have childcare challenges to deal with. Clearly it is critical to reassure your staff that you are providing a safe working environment for them to return to and to try and understand the challenges they face.

Be flexible

There is no right or wrong in these challenging times. It’s important to be human and as much as possible be flexible. If you want your team member to return to the office, but they have good reasons not to and can still get their job done effectively, then why not let them continue to work from home. This is all part of providing a positive employee experience for your staff.

Man Sitting in Front of Computer

Communicate effectively and empathetically

If your whole team is working from home, think about which messages are best communicated by e-mail and which ones would be better said on a phone or video call. If the information is sensitive, it is often more professional and human to discuss it verbally. This seems like common sense, but many people still don’t do it!

 Get impartial advice

If you need help and support about planning the return to your office, organisations in the UK such as ACAS can provide useful support and advice. ACAS gives employees and employers free, impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice – go to www.acas.org.uk to learn more.

Another useful organisation to contact is the CIPD (The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). They have a produced a useful COVID 19 returning to the workplace planner.

Clearly you should follow the most up-to-date government and public health guidance.

If you are not based in the UK follow your government’s advice and try to identify similar organisations in your country.

Summary

In conclusion, while planning your return to the office it’s critical to consider your employees’ feelings and emotions and give them plenty of notice, listen to their concerns, be flexible, communicate clearly but empathetically and of course follow official up-to-date advice from your government and other reliable sources.

STL offer a number of training programmes to support staff and companies working remotely and to help you plan your return to the office during these challenging times.