Employee connection is one of the strongest indicators of your team’s performance. Well-connected teams are more productive and show less attrition than disconnected teams. Here are four ways managers can build team unity virtually or in-person.
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Build space into meetings for get-to-know-you time. Invite your employees to show up 5 to 10 minutes before the designated meeting time and encourage staff to chat during this pre-meeting time. You can provide specific ice breakers or just let the conversation flow, but make sure you let staff discuss non-work-related topics. You might need to lead by example at first, but over time, your employees will look forward to sharing personal news or weekend plans with each other. Plus, by giving your staff an incentive to come to meetings early, you’ll be able to start your official meeting right on time instead of waiting for stragglers.
Another way to encourage workplace cohesion is by organizing lunch get-togethers. Encourage your employees to step away from their desks and gather in the lunch room, at a local restaurant or in a zoom chat. If you can afford it, you may want to provide soda, snacks or another incentive for your first few lunchtime social hours.
Make sure your staff understand these meetings are completely optional. Don’t punish your introverted staff for wanting to recharge during unpaid lunch breaks, but try to create opportunities for all staff to join in the fun. You could start a lunch-time book club that meets once per month, set up small gatherings or zoom rooms for more in-depth discussions or even coordinate time for staff to watch a work-appropriate television show together while eating. Understanding your employees’ individual motivational needs is one of the key factors in employee retention. By providing a variety of socialization options, you’ll build a welcoming environment for all of your employees.
Virtual Gift Exchanges
For many workplaces, COVID-19 is the grinch who stole Christmas. Offices had to cancel cookie exchanges, send Old Saint Nick up the chimney and skip the annual holiday party. However, with virtual gift exchanges, you can still create workplace cheer. A virtual exchange can take all the work out of party planning by automatically sending invitations, creating a gift exchange roster and offering fun, workplace-appropriate gift ideas – whether you’re planning a regular holiday schedule or Christmas in July. You can even use online Secret Santa Generators to help with the process.
Throw a Birthday Bash
When your employees are working from home, every day can seem like Groundhog Day. You can help employees break out of their rut by finding reasons for your team to celebrate. Consider hosting a virtual birthday celebration each month; customize it by letting each birthday boy or girl choose a favorite (office-friendly) song to share over your next conference call. If your budget allows, consider sending a small token and asking the recipients to unwrap their presents by video chat.
Bringing your team together doesn’t require a multi-day retreat or happy hour get-together. With the right attitude and a sprinkling of creativity, you can start promoting employee connectivity right now.