The pandemic has greatly reduced the scope for healthy casual interactions that can boost the morale of team members. The old charms of an in-office, engaging culture are no more.
According to a popular study, many employees are suffering from loneliness and isolation, which can adversely impact their performance by up to 21%. It is, therefore, all the more important to allocate time for improving the relationships between team members and increasing the overall team spirit.
What can the HR team do to improve team morale?
Although conventional team-building exercises like lunches, dinners, short vacations and games are not possible, the HR world is swiftly adapting to the idea of virtual get-to-know-you events through commonly available tools like Google Meet, Skype, etc. According to Teambuilding, online team-building activities have jumped by 2500% since the pandemic commenced.
Employees who play together slay together! How do you ensure that your team’s spirit is ‘virtually’ high?
Here are six sure-shot ways to build camaraderie between your team members.
Music is a joyful way for people to open up. Studies at the University of Arkansas have shown that “…using rhythm-induced synchronised activities have resulted in the participants feeling trust…, increased cooperation, or increased overall perception…” The organiser can choose upbeat songs that will most likely be known to the team, based on their demographics, and play them. Employees can sing along while enjoying the music. This will help employees open up to one another more easily and connect as individuals, making the team feel more like a group of friends.
If the team size is small, each member can sing a few lines of their favourite song while the others cheer them on virtually. If there are singers or instrumentalists in the team, a planned performance can be conducted. In any case, the vibe of people clapping and even grooving to peppy music is something that will heighten the team spirit.
This is a fun, fast-paced activity that is engaging and improves the attention of the group. Each participant is given a topic on the spot and has to talk for one minute, without pausing and without any prior preparation. Those who qualify will move to the second round, in which each speaker will be given a phrase from the previous speaker’s speech as their topic.
If there is scope for a third and final round, the speakers will have to perform simple hand movements, such as clapping or opening and closing their fists, while speaking. Winners can be declared based on voting.
The organiser can prepare a list of topics that are of equal difficulty and award prizes to the winners. Simple, fun, and engaging, right?
3. Photo Stories
Employees can click and share photos from their everyday life along with a short description or sharing how the subject makes life more interesting, intriguing or meaningful for them.
These photos can be of practically anything – sunrises, sunsets, birds, flowers or plants in their homes, a cosy nook, pets, their culinary experiments, artwork as long as it means something to them. The organiser can create a dedicated time slot for this sharing activity.
The top two or three best photo stories can be selected based on voting. If the session is to be held at regular intervals, themes can be decided for each session. This activity will make employees put forward their authentic selves and increase the trust between one another. It will also give clues to the HR team on how to motivate any individual employee who is feeling especially low or left out otherwise.
4. The Magic of a Meal
Sharing food is something that brings different types of people together, making team lunches or high tea sessions excellent bonding activities. Although the scope for such get-togethers is non-existent until the pandemic recedes, it is possible to organise a meal-based activity to simulate that same magic.
An evening of cooking together over a video call and then sitting down to have dinner together will bring a light atmosphere into the team space. A simple dish or two can be decided ahead of time, along with the necessary ingredients and equipment. One or two members who are familiar with the process can take the lead and guide the others.
Alternatively, the same or similar meal can be ordered for all the team members and delivered at the same time on a fixed day so that the team can enjoy a virtual dinner. This way the feeling of sharing a meal is emulated as far as possible over video.
5. Mandala Workshop
Mandalas are circular art pieces that inherently have a calming effect. They can be easily practised by everyone. Innumerable mandalas are available in varying colours, patterns and difficulty levels. Connecting to them is a meditative experience.
An online mandala workshop can be easily organised. The organiser can choose a few easy patterns and guide the team members virtually or hire an artist who can conduct the session. The materials required are also quite easy to find – a geometry box and colour pencils. Each employee can gather these materials, ensure their workspace is clutter-free and light a scented candle or incense. A piece of soft instrumental music can be played to enhance the experience.
In turbulent times such as the pandemic, an activity such as this can help one calm down and disconnect from life’s pressures and be an extremely helpful experience for the mind, heart and soul. Moreover, this can help employees be more compassionate and understanding, which will improve the team spirit.
6. Habit or Hobby Development
Each team member can decide on a particular habit that they want to cultivate – some examples are healthy eating, exercising, reading books or working on a hobby. An initial virtual meeting can be conducted wherein each employee selects their area of personal development, sets specific goals and shares them with the group. This can be followed up with weekly or fortnightly meetings to discuss the achievements, track progress and to further motivate each other to work towards their goals.
Holding a collective space for the individual development of employees has two major advantages. Firstly, each employee will feel nourished at a personal level and will feel cared for, which will motivate them to give their best to the organisation. Secondly, being involved in the personal development of their colleagues will build a sense of togetherness and participation in each other’s journeys, which will positively impact their collaboration.
Work-from-home pushes employees away from each other physically. These virtual ways will surely bring them together in spirit, resulting in better teamwork.