Team night outs have been a mainstay in my career to date. The industries and companies that I have worked in promote a culture of team building and nights out whether formal on a company funded occasion or just a Friday night where the pub is an informal gathering.
Earlier the week, I was listening to a podcast where two former football managers were talking about team spirit and general morale. They were asked a question about allowing their teams out for big nights out. The response really surprised me as the answer was yes. If their team was having a bad run of form, the manager actively encouraged it because it built team spirit and improved the moral of the players.
Looking at the individuals who have entered the employment sector over the past 10 years or so, there has been a massive shift in the move from pub culture to going to the gym instead.
Furthermore, in the post pandemic world, social activities are considerably less than what they used to be. What can employees and employers do to boost team moral and team spirit, especially when a lot of people will be working from home?
Promote openness and wellbeing;
There are so many companies that overlook the importance of good mental health. Wellness is critical to a business viability and sustainability, especially in the current post pandemic climate. As budgets are being saved on the lack of team building activities or corporate entertainment (including the last two years where the budget has been minimal for most), use the surplus budgets to afford wellness webinars or face to face activities. By pushing health and wellness to the top of the agenda, openness to talk about problems will become more common. In turn, this will highlight potential problems and allow an opportunity to present itself for solutions. Which is important for both employees and employers to embrace, as there is an equally shared responsibility from both to provide this environment. If it is not mutually desired or expected, one party or the other will feel aggrieved.
Make time for networking when staff are in the office;
There is a strong argument that working from home drives efficiency upwards. Most companies are offering a blended working model so I would encourage both employer and employee make time when in the office to actively meet with your colleagues. Encourage a team lunch either in or out of the office. Reforge relationships that lead to a desire to go the extra mile for each other, the company or better still both!
Provide a communal area where colleagues can meet & use the area;
Manyoffice spaces are either open planned or compartmentalised (each team being based in one room or another with limited interaction). In most instances this is governed by the layout of the office. With a bit of imagination and creativity, find space to have a staff area. Looking at my time in offices, I would either eat my lunch at my desk or go out if the weather was nice and eat in an open space. Creating an area where people can detach themselves form their desk is a powerful tool to bring people together. There is also an ownership from an employees prospective to embrace and use these areas as habits of working through your lunch/browsing the internet at lunch time can run deep.
Encourage social interaction – But with care and respect;
There is a balance to be had with interactions socially. Some people are very cautious about catching viruses or generally being socially introverted. Everybody will have their own level of comfort when it comes to interacting in a social environment and these boundaries need to be respected and understood. It will be counter intuitive to try and insist or enforce a social policy. We are not suggesting that Friday evening drinks will suit everybody, but encourage activities that will suit individuals such as a pre work walk at 8.30am or even 9am for 20 minutes can alleviate some formal professional boundaries. Surely if you are having a tough time, you are more likely to open up to a colleague when you are in a less formal setting. This can only benefit an individual employee and the employer.
Times are obviously changing but the importance of positive team morale has not. I think that genuine friendship that that are encouraged to grow between the team/company will only ever have a positive effect. Working patterns have changed and working remotely has become more normal, it is vital that employers and employees look at team moral and team bonding in a proactive way. There is a responsibility for all of us to look after each other and this can only really be done with mutual trust, openness and transparency.