Learning & Development

5 Ways Business Leaders Can Unify Teams During Trying Times

With world conflicts, pandemic concerns, political issues, societal differences, and economic factors weighing heavily on people’s minds, it can feel overwhelming and affect mental and emotional well-being. Juggling professional and personal responsibilities on top of it all can take a toll on even the healthiest of human beings.

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During times of tragedy and instability, the workplace and its leaders can serve as healing forces, especially at companies with a great culture. The following are five ways business leaders can provide employees with welcome support during trying times and unify teams.

Stay Connected

One of the most important things leaders can do during uncertain times is stay connected to in-person and remote teams. Encourage two-way communication so employees feel comfortable reaching out to supervisors and coworkers. Also, managers should communicate daily with brief text messages, conduct biweekly meetings, and have monthly face-to-face check-in chats. To help coworkers stay connected to each other, team e-mails with kudos or special project updates and reports that recognize employees can help encourage others to reach out. Moreover, remaining connected to remote team members is especially crucial because they might go days without speaking to someone, which can lead them to dwell on negative events.

Schedule Mental Health Days

With mental health and well-being a high priority for employers and employees, scheduling mental health days once a quarter during which half the day is dedicated to a program and the other half free time demonstrates leaders care and concern for their teams. Events such as mindfulness training for the group help instill empathy and self-awareness skills, along with calming the mind to renew focus on the tasks at hand when employees return to their work environments. Additionally, scheduling lunch-and-learn sessions with medical professionals; discovering all the benefits employee assistance programs (EAPs) offer; power walking around the campus or office; and sharing meditation apps, podcasts, books, and other avenues that support employee well-being are other ideas for half-day events.  

Host Coffee Talks

For some teams, hosting weekly 45-minute coffee talks that don’t involve work issues can be a good bonding experience. Leaders should solicit volunteers who rotate monthly to coordinate topics and activities. This not only helps them get to know other team members better but also can serve as a leadership opportunity. Activities can include talking about the latest binge-watched series and any cliffhangers, discussing the results of sporting events or upcoming matches, or playing games like Wordle. All activities should include a remote option so everyone is included in the coffee talks. While the gatherings are not mandatory, employees should be encouraged to attend unless they have a tight deadline or an unexpected project because buy-in and participation are critical to uniting teams.

Volunteer in the Community

Rallying the team around a common cause and volunteering in the community is a great way for employees to escape troubling events and make a difference in the lives of others. Conversely, raising funds or offering assistance to a specific current event or issue can help employees feel a part of the solution, which can be very fulfilling. While some remote employees might not be able to attend, organizers should identify a way for them to contribute, such as writing a letter to recipients of the volunteer event or participating via videoconferencing. Team volunteering helps build ties and trust among coworkers that carry over into the workplace and lead to improved employee performance.   

Conduct Team-Building Activities

Managers should conduct quarterly teambuilding activities that help employees connect with not only each other but also the company, which helps boost the culture. For example, company trivia games, best elevator speeches, and connecting company values to daily responsibilities are ways employees can learn more about the company and interact with coworkers. Budget-friendly gift cards for the winners will help encourage participation and friendly competition, increasing employee morale. In addition, taking professional development training that benefits everyone in the group or attending a local conference pertinent to the team or industry is a way for employees to learn and build camaraderie.   

When leaders take the time and effort to unite employees during trying times, it helps individuals cope and builds long-term relationships that affect company culture and employee morale.

Niki Jorgensen is a director of service operations for Insperity, a leading provider of human resources offering the most comprehensive suite of scalable HR solutions available in the marketplace. For more information about Insperity, visit www.insperity.com