Thought leadership: Top tips on maintaining team morale
The financial statement has landed, pointing to tough months ahead. During these testing times of cost-of-living and interest rate rises, employee attrition and government uncertainty, it can be difficult for employees to feel settled. A lack of stability outside work can quickly transfer to how people feel in their jobs, especially if they’re isolated by hybrid working. So how can you build and maintain morale to help them through it?
Let people broaden their horizons
I think building morale goes back to communication and making everyone feel included and united behind a sense of collective purpose. Especially now, working remotely and often feeling siloed, it’s easy to feel like you're dealing with problems on your own, so do whatever you can to reinforce the feeling of ‘Team’. One example I would give is a tech company I work with who do backdrops and LEDs for big events. Only certain people would usually get to be in the ‘lab’ where you see it all happening, but they enabled all their staff to see it, touch it, walk through the lab, stand on the stage, talk with the engineer, and understand what they are working towards in their back-office jobs. I think there are a lot of companies out there who could apply that same principle.
Sarah Lardner is a Principal Consultant & Director working across Media, Digital, Publishing, Financial Services, Energy
Give Time and Get Active
I have two tips. Firstly, I think giving employees your time is crucial. There is a real superpower to senior managers taking the time to listen and ask people how people are. If staff are feeling concerned or stressed, often they will feel better if they are able to voice it to someone who might be able to affect change, however small.
My second tip is to build an activity that everyone can participate in. One client of mine organises a 5km run every week, which everybody can take part in, either by running, walking or supporting. The method they use is brilliant: in week one they time everyone and in week two everyone sets off with a different head start on the fastest runner, meaning that, in theory, everyone should finish at roughly the same time. Each week’s winner is the person who beats their previous week’s time by the most. So, a bit like in golf, anyone can win. They all get together, have fun and chat outside the office and also get all the benefits of exercising and being active.
Cathryn Edmondson is a Senior Consultant working across Media, Legal, Sports, Financial Services and Not for Profit
A few years ago, we decided to run a one-off recognition activity called Dream Balls to say thank you to the team for working hard during the year. Everybody nominated one thing they would like to do with £400 and we all put our wishes into little yellow kinder egg balls and drew them out over a period of weeks. Each time we ran the draw it brought the team together and created real excitement. It was a great way for the company to say thanks, and for people to feel appreciated. The ‘dream’ had to be something positive and tangible (you couldn’t pay off the gas bill!) and eventually everybody got their wish. Wishes varied hugely - one team member used the money to buy a climbing frame for his children, I took my husband and son to Bruges, another bought a pizza oven. We all shared photos afterwards and as a result, it brought the team together and people still talk about it today.
Justine Woolf is a Director of Consulting working across Professional Services, Legal, Purpose-led NFPs
Help your employees get to know each other
It seems obvious but getting teams together as much as possible builds morale. Even if it’s once a fortnight in the office and otherwise meeting virtually, it’s crucial and it’s also important to allow time to do things and talk about things are not work-related. Water cooler conversations used to happen all the time but now those chance conversations are increasingly rare, and that is impacting new staff in particular. When you're new, you don't know what you don't know and those crucial little questions might go unasked, so encourage face-to-face contact and on those rare occasions when it happens, go out for lunch. If people are having to travel a long way to make a team meeting, make it worth their while.
There’s never been a time like this when so many staff have only met online, so embrace anything you can do to help your team connect, ideally talking about something other than work, and ideally physically together. It doesn't have to be an official day out, just some time maybe at lunch one day or after work, together as a team and bonding over common interests. We used to take for granted the power of everyone knowing each other, and feeling engaged. If you have that, you want to do well for your colleagues and well for the company. In my team we catch up once a week about projects and how everything's going, but also just to talk. If someone's done a great piece of work or won a new piece of work, we can congratulate each other. When else do you get a chance to do that these days?
Spencer Hughes is a Senior Analyst
Read more like this: Thought leadership: our key messages to business leaders