By Neena Jivraj-Stevenson, Chief Cultural Officer at Point A Hotels
It’s impossible not to feel the groundhog-day illusion as we enter a third national lockdown this month.
At Point A Hotels, it’s the third time we have had to consider closing our doors and though we remain open, we have reduced teams running much quieter buildings, whilst others are placed on furlough.
But if our experiences of dealing with COVID-19 have taught us anything, it’s that it’s important to find the right balance between light-touch social activities, ongoing recognition and more professional wellbeing services to keep a team’s morale intact.
Start with the basics
After the pandemic brought our industry to a close for the first time – what feels like a lifetime ago – we trialled a range of morale-boosting one-off events. These ranged from a Dragon’s Den-style competition – where we asked team members to share their ideas for the company’s future (as wacky or conventional as they like) – to book clubs, company quizzes and virtual meetups. Whilst these may be the simple fundamentals of creating a virtual ‘culture’, they’re not to be underappreciated. These light-hearted activities really helped us foster a spirit of togetherness throughout the first few weeks of lockdown and have continued to be essential to maintaining good company morale as the ability to connect in person remains restricted.
More recently, we have turned our recognition programmes virtual – with employee of the month celebrations and quarterly and annual awards ceremonies being run online with gifts shipped out to our teams on site and at home. We have also treated those who dial in to takeaway vouchers for them and the family to enjoy whilst they tune in.
Don’t forget the industry support bodies that exist
These activities then paved the way for more significant wellbeing programmes. We worked with industry body Hospitality Action – the UK’s leading charity for hospitality workers – to give our teams access to professional, confidential support relating to finance, legal, relationships, wellbeing and more. Whilst it’s important to keep things light-hearted, it’s equally meaningful to make sure that your employees realise they do have access to professional-level support. Such bodies exist across a wide variety of industries, I’d encourage any leadership team to consider how they can be leveraged to support their team’s wellbeing.
A mix of different approaches might be best for morale
Whether it’s the traditional Teams tête-à-tête, more advanced virtual team building sessions, or full-on industry body support what’s clear is that there is no shortage in mechanisms employers can use to help boost team morale. At a time of great stress and uncertainty, a measured combination of the three scales might prove the best means to keep teams happy and healthy at work.