Reconnecting with colleagues

by Martin MacConnol – Nov 06, 2020

As we enter a second lockdown in England it looks likely that morale and motivation for many employees is going to take a hit. In fact, even without the latest restrictions, it’s clear many employers are struggling to maintaining a sense of team cohesiveness. 

This challenge – and its possible solutions – was the focus for our webinar on November 5; a conversation between Wardour CEO Claire Oldfield and employee engagement expert, Rachel Boothroyd. You can watch a recording of the webinar here, and below are some additional insights from speaking to Claire and Rachel after the event. 

The key issue for both Rachel and Claire is identifying that you have a problem at all. When your team is dispersed across living rooms and bedrooms around the country, issues may not be immediately apparent. Linked to that Claire said: “And leaders need to show they care.” 

The signs of disengagement are obvious once you start spotting them. People turning off their cameras for Teams and Zoom calls, meetings becoming boring, colleagues not engaging with corporate initiatives such as training. Rachel said: “If you take a moment to just observe what is happening on a video call you can fairly rapidly see if you have an issue with colleague engagement. And if you do it’s not surprising.  

“Since the pandemic started we’ve learned that companies can function through screens, but we have also learnt that there is a limit to the level of connection. And we are yearning for meaningful connection. Today, when something doesn’t strike the right note, it feels even more off than it did when we sitting in the office - because it is landing on us in our home. And we are just in a different state when we are at home. It’s more personal and we expect more authenticity and realness.” 

Observing is just one thing employers need to do if they want to tackle morale and motivation, listening to what the issues are is another.  

“Working in lockdown requires more effort, those water cooler moments just don’t happen spontaneously. Leaders need to create virtual opportunities to engage,” said Claire. “It’s important to show empathy – and to act on what you learn”. 

More formally, if your eyes are telling you that there is an issue, you should consider conducting a survey. “My core mantra for delivering behavioural change in teams is, if in doubt get data, otherwise you are just working on assumptions” said Rachel. Quant data can be backed up by focus groups which may unearth a little more about the issues which need to be tackled. 

Of course, the key to success is how to respond. “In part simply engaging in these ways, shows teams they have a leadership that is not just experiencing the same storm, but in the same boat. That goes a long way,” Rachel said. But beyond that you could consider implementing specific team building activities. “Games are great” Rachel said. “They are very connecting and stimulating. Beyond that training and learning is vital – people feel a real sense of invigoration when they are developing skills and progressing, they get a sense of personal growth.” 

Such work though is only the tip of the iceberg, Claire said: “Reinforcing messages through on-going comms is vital too. Employers might consider some fun, morale-boosting activities, things which replicate a little of life outside of work. But motivation is also lifted by colleagues really understanding how their work contributes to their company’s success – and by having a sense of pride and purpose in the business they work for. On-going comms is vital to deliver such goals, especially in such challenging times.” 

If you would like help sorting any of the issues mentioned then contact david.king@wardour.co.uk or Rachel Boothroyd at rachel@rachelboothroyd.com 

 

Published Nov 06, 2020

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