HR Team Building Tips To Retain Talent And Strengthen Your Remote Workforce
A sufficient salary and benefits package may attract top talent to your organization, but one of the things that keeps them there is a strong team dynamic. But that’s not the only reason to focus on team building for your team, telecommuting or otherwise. While everyone plays a part in creating a supportive company culture and promoting positive team spirit, the HR department usually leads the charge. This guide covers every aspect of team building, from the tell-tale signs of low employee morale to activities that bring everyone together.
What’s Inside This Guide…
- What Is The HR Role In Team Building?
- 5 Reasons Why HR Team Building Is Essential For Remote Workforces
- 5 Common Causes Of Low Employee Morale
- Top Tips To Create An Employee Morale Survey For Your Team
- Team Building Activities To Bring Everyone Together
- Which Teamwork Skills Do Your Remote Staffers Need To Work On?
- How Do You Create A Safe And Supportive Work Environment During (And After) COVID?
1. What Is The HR Role In Team Building?
HR is most commonly associated with team building because they play an active role in employee recruitment and policy setting. They’re the ones who onboard new team members and ensure that everyone has ongoing support. In other words, keep staffers satisfied so that they stay with the organization and keep contributing their expertise. Here are 4 crucial reasons why your HR employees play a pivotal part in team building.
Strike A Talent Pool Balance
Finding the right people to join the organization is one of the most important aspects of team building because you must take personalities, goals, and other factors into consideration. For example, the HR department needs to hire employees who not only possess the right skills and expertise but mesh well with the existing team. Everyone should have their own strengths and specializations, as well as the desire to share their knowledge to assist coworkers.
Advocate For Employee Rights
While every employee should stand up for employees’ rights, it’s usually the HR department that’s responsible for setting new policies and enforcing them. The key to a collaborative and communicative team is clear guidelines and a solid infrastructure. For instance, every staffer should have equal access to online training resources, regardless of their particular needs or preferences. As a result, no one feels slighted or envious of the opportunities given to their peers. Simply put, resentment and unfair treatment are the foes of effective team dynamics.
Set A Positive Example
The HR team should set the tone for every other department. It’s not just about laying down the law but showing employees’ your company values in action. For instance, your HR staffers must be a tightknit team that exemplifies your corporate beliefs and professional comradery. That’s not to say that every workday they should begin with a group hug and sing their own rendition of “Kumbaya,” but they should represent team spirit and smooth collaboration so that peers follow their prime example.
Develop Policies That Encourage Open Communication
Aside from compliance policies and task protocols, HR employees often create communication guidelines that serve as the backbone of corporate team building. For example, employees must report incidents to their superiors, such as on-the-job conflicts or bullying. Another factor to consider is how staffers interact with each other and their primary means of communication. Should they use specific software to host team meetings or share progress updates? What should they do if a coworker makes them feel uncomfortable so that issues don’t escalate?
How Can HR Software Help You Improve Employee Morale And Team Dynamics?
Time tracking software, attendance tools, and project management platforms keep everyone in the loop and boost accountability. You can open the lines of communication and create an effective support system that’s accessible anytime, anywhere. For example, time tracking tools prevent employee burnout and prevent overlapping vacation time so that departments aren’t understaffed. Likewise, project management software provides them with a central hub where they can track and assign tasks, keep a community calendar, and monitor shared goals. You can even roll out video conferencing platforms to break down the barriers.
2. 5 Reasons Why HR Team Building Is Essential For Remote Workforces
You need a supportive and collaborative workforce in the best of times. But, the COVID crisis has moved many organizations online and telecommuting employees are now par for the course. This is all the more reason to build an even stronger team dynamic and offer your HR department additional training resources. Here are five notable perks that team building can bring to your remote employees (and organization, as a whole):
Decrease Employee Turnover
Employees are more likely to stay with your organization if they feel like they’re part of a productive team. More specifically, a team of like-minded individuals who do their fair share and respect coworkers’ opinions. Working remotely also creates emotional dissonance because staffers are geographically dispersed. So, their sense of loyalty may start to slip, even toward remote peers they felt a connection to in the past (pre-COVID). Thus, team building reduces employee churn and strengthens professional bonds, even if they’re halfway across the world.
Improve On-The-Job Productivity
Ultimately, every member of your organization should feel like they’re a valued member of the team who can count on their coworkers. If employees have that built-in support, they’re more productive on the job because they can focus on their own job responsibilities. Furthermore, they’re prone to take on additional tasks or duties for the sake of the team. As an example, a member of your remote customer service department calls in sick and their coworkers pick up the slack because they’re part of a supportive corporate community. Lastly, everyone works together seamlessly since they understand the communication guidelines and team expectations. In other words, how they fit into the grand scheme of things.
Provide Peer-Based Support
Knowledge sharing is critical for organizations because it doesn’t put a strain on resources and allows you to tap into internal expertise. For instance, employees help one another overcome task obstacles or avoid remote work mistakes. Even if you don’t have a full-fledged peer coaching plan (we highly recommend it), staffers still have peer-based support they can always fall back on. It may be something as simple as asking for advice on the spot if they don’t have an answer for clients or providing training recommendations.
HR team building also contributes to your bottom line. You reduce employee churn, boost productivity, and cut training costs, thereby increasing your profit margin. Simply put, employees who work well together and respect their differences provide better service and hit their sales targets. They aren’t treated like an asset, but an important part of your organization that fills specific gaps. Another ROI benefit is cutting new hire training costs. You retain top performers instead of having to pay to recruit, onboard, and bring their replacements up to speed.
Strike A Better Work-Life Balance
There’s a real risk of burnout in remote work environments because employees often blur the lines. They cannot simply leave everything behind at the office or switch off since their work and personal space are one and the same. However, team building helps them strike a better balance, as they can rely on their coworkers. Additionally, they forge healthier relationships with their peers and prevent unnecessary conflicts, which contributes to their mental wellbeing.
3. 5 Common Causes Of Low Employee Morale
The corporate world isn’t usually synonymous with sunshine and roses. However, most employees expect a supportive and collaborative work environment when they clock in every day. Not meeting their basic requirements typically leads to low satisfaction scores and overall morale. Below are a few reasons why your staffers might consider dusting off their resumes and returning to the job market:
No Advancement Opportunities
Employees need to have room to grow. You can’t limit their potential by forcing them into career stagnation simply because you don’t have advancement opportunities. Thus, one of the main causes of low employee morale is removing rungs from the corporate ladder. If you don’t have leadership positions available, at least give them a chance to upskill and expand their knowledge base so that they can prepare for the future. That way, they’re ready to step into the role when the time is right, which also gives them added incentive to stick around and work on personal areas for improvement.
If you can’t trust your team leaders, who are supposed to set the example and advocate for their department, then who can you trust? One of the worst low-morale offenders is unreliable leadership. Employees simply cannot depend on their managers, supervisors, or PMs to uphold their end of the bargain. In some cases, the leader may even undermine the company’s values or beliefs. Staffers must be able to count on the “higher-ups” to provide valuable insights and feedback to help them continually improve.
Lack Of Support
Support doesn’t only come from leaders. Employees often rely on their coworkers, training facilitators, and other key players to give them a helping hand, which may be in the form of peer coaching, mentoring, or even informal discussions. Without that support system, staffers may feel overwhelmed and eventually burn out. This is precisely the reason why you need to focus on team building. Coworkers can step in to provide additional guidance and troubleshooting tips on the spot, instead of making employees wait until the next training session.
Limited L&D Resources
Since we’re on the subject of training, limited learning and development tools are another key reason for low employee morale. They simply don’t have access to upskilling and reskilling tools. Or maybe there’s an issue with depersonalization. For example, you create one-size-fits-all content that doesn’t cater to their needs and/or align with their job roles. Without this solid L&D infrastructure, staffers are unable to pursue advancement opportunities when it’s time to promote from within.
No Recognition Or Personal Praise
Even if employees have all the necessary training and an effective support network, they may be suffering from professional neglect. You need to give them credit when credit is due instead of just pointing out flaws. Constructive criticism is necessary, but so is recognition for a job well done. For instance, implement a gamification strategy to acknowledge their achievements, such as leaderboards or badges. Another option is to host a monthly awards event to shine the spotlight on staffers who go above and beyond for their coworkers.
4. Top Tips To Create An Employee Morale Survey For Your Team
How do you identify areas for improvement to foster better team dynamics and build a stronger organizational culture? Why not get it straight from the source. An employee morale survey helps you gather valuable feedback from your remote workforce. However, you need to know which questions to ask and who to send them to in order to collect actionable data. This section highlights five insider tips to develop a survey or poll that sheds light on employees’ mental and emotional wellbeing.
Keep It Short, Simple, And Problem-Centered
It’s better to create an employee morale questionnaire for different groups or known pain points than to overwhelm them with an overstuffed survey. Keep it short and focus on specific gaps or goals. Ideally, you should center on the problem then work your way backward when creating questions. For instance, you have a general idea about why employees are unhappy with the online training program. So, use the survey to identify the root cause and how you can improve your L&D initiatives moving forward.
Leave Room For Open Discussion
While some employees may just want to answer the 10 questions and go on with their workday, others have additional insights. As such, you should include an open-ended response section so that they can share their thoughts and opinions. Another idea is to get their mental gears turning with question prompts. For instance, “How would you sum up your department in one sentence?” or “What would you change about your manager’s leadership style?” You can even host a live event to gather more direct feedback.
Make It Anonymous
Employees are more likely to open up about their experiences if the survey is anonymous. Some employees may even be afraid of reprisals from their coworkers or managers. Anonymity helps them stay honest instead of trying to sugarcoat the situation so that you get authentic data. You can always give them the option to include their names if they’d like to provide more information via a follow-up interview or long-form questionnaire, however.
Set A Standardized Scoring Rubric
If you’re going with more qualitative versus quantitative surveys, you need to develop a scoring rubric to standardize responses. For instance, employees should evaluate their overall feelings about the team’s communication on a scale of 1 to 10. You can also use a text-based scoring spectrum that ranges from “exemplary” to “unsatisfactory.” Be sure to outline some basics beforehand so they know what to expect from the survey and how to respond.
Create Different Surveys For Different Stops On The Employment Journey
Unless you’re a startup and everyone’s been in your organization for the same length of time, employees are at different stages of the journey and have different opinions based on their experience levels. Create a unique survey for every phase so that you can accurately compare their responses and identify patterns. One survey might be for newer staffers who offer a fresh perspective on your organizational culture and overall job satisfaction. You can also develop separate surveys for departments or employee groups. For example, create one employee morale survey for the customer service team and another for team leaders.
5. Team Building Activities To Bring Everyone Together
Which activities and resources cultivate a supportive company culture? Every topic calls for fresh content to fill in the gaps and expand professional know-how. That said, there are some activities that are versatile enough to suit all subject matter. Here are a few to add to your team-building strategy in order to build vital skills and help your employees break down the geographical (and emotional) barriers:
Invite employees to regular group discussions where they can exchange ideas and feedback. This also gives them the chance to get to know their coworkers on a more personal level and see things from their point of view. Choose a topic beforehand to get the ball rolling, then let them go off on tangents, provided that they’re still relevant to the subject matter. For instance, they may need to discuss alternative task steps or new problem-solving approaches to improve on-the-job performance.
The best way to approach a problem is to examine it every from angle. Simulations give employees the opportunity to test out different strategies and put their lateral thinking skills into action. They may have to interact with customers who want to return beyond the cut-off date or deal with a coworker conflict, which encourages them to evaluate the scenario from multiple viewpoints. Not to mention, they get to draw on a variety of skills and personal experiences to resolve the issue tactfully.
Live In-House SME Events
Host virtual events and invite your internal SMEs to step into the hosting role. Everyone has strong suits they can tap into to help their colleagues continually improve. These events boost their self-confidence and facilitate HR team building because they can turn to each other for support. For instance, they automatically know that Joe, a member of the customer service team, is an expert at active listening and the go-to person for policy-checking.
Peer Coaching Sessions
Not everyone is willing to open up during live events, but they might do so in peer coaching sessions. Coaching or mentoring is a more personal way to cultivate talents and focus on relevant gaps. They might meet every week to discuss their goals and provide progress updates. Or maybe they opt for monthly sessions just to touch base and evaluate how far they’ve come in the past few weeks. You can also host group coaching events if there’s a pain point pattern, such as multiple employees who lack certain skills or task know-how.
Invite your team to share their stories. The only caveat is that they must pertain to troubleshooting, including the problem and how they overcame it using their professional expertise. You can also ask them to point out coworkers who assisted them and/or training resources that helped them in a pinch. Add their tales to your L&D library so that coworkers can access them during their time of need.
What Are The Best Employee Morale Ideas For SMBs?
SMBs have an advantage, in that they often have more tight-knit teams who know each other on a personal basis. As an example, your staff of 10 has been working together for the past year and everyone knows their coworkers’ quirks and personality traits. But, that doesn’t mean everything is peachy keen 24/7. Here are a few employee morale-boosting ideas for SMBs:
- Remote weekly meet-ups that focus on a specific skill or emerging challenge
- Social media groups where everyone can exchange ideas and post relevant resources
- Quarterly awards to recognize top performers and staffers who help cultivate company culture
- Gamification badges to boost motivation and acknowledge their achievements
6. Which Teamwork Skills Do Your Remote Staffers Need To Work On?
Interpersonal skills are usually the basis for healthy professional relationships and on-the-job productivity. But which core competencies and talents should you focus on in your HR team building courses? Of course, it all begins with needs assessment and personal evaluation. However, these five skills are a great starting point for remote staffers who need to brush up and play a more active role in your corporate team:
Keeping the lines of communication open is essential for remote teams. Everyone needs to be in the proverbial loop in order to achieve the goals and balance the workload. This also applies to different departments that must complete various stages of the project. For instance, your customer service team needs to communicate with the sales staffers if there’s an issue with a client or policies should be updated. Communication goes hand-in-hand with active listening, which is often a prerequisite for effective team building.
It’s challenging to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes (or even across the room) but it’s crucial for employee morale. Everyone must be able to see things from their coworkers’ perspectives, even if they don’t necessarily agree with their opinions. A great way to build empathy is to include personal anecdotes and scenarios in your training program. Let them explore different situations from unique POVs so that they can experience the emotions and reflect on their behaviors.
Time management and organization are often associated with project management. However, they’re also vital for creating a stronger team dynamic. Every member of your staff should respect each other’s time and workflow. For example, if they don’t complete their task on time due to procrastination, this has a domino effect on coworkers who rely on them further down the line. Delivering a day late might throw off the entire schedule and cause some degree of animosity in the long run.
Problems have a way of escalating if left unchecked. For this reason, every teamwork training strategy should focus on problem-solving and conflict resolution. Give your employees the tools they need to engage in a healthy dialogue without letting things spiral out of control. How can they agree to disagree instead of allowing their argument to spill out onto the sales floor? What should they do if a coworker offends them or devalues their contributions? It’s not simply a matter of setting up conflict resolution guidelines but building related skills so that they know how to diffuse the situation on their own.
Everyone must become a leader at one point or another, just as everyone needs to be a team player when the occasion calls for it. Strong leadership skills involve a variety of talents, from problem-solving to planning. These building blocks also happen to be the pillars of teamwork. For instance, someone who has lead projects in the past can empathize with the current PM and offer them support, rather than trying to take over the show.
7. How Do You Create A Safe And Supportive Work Environment During (And After) COVID?
Organizations could not have foreseen what was on the horizon, but they were still forced to adapt to new rules and regulations. In short, the new normal has presented innumerable challenges that companies must now overcome to return to “business as usual,” at least to some extent. So, how do you ease employees back into the workplace and/or create a remote work environment that’s safe, supportive, and collaborative for every team member?
Set Communication Guidelines
Every employee should know what to expect and what’s expected of them in the new normal. Tempers may be short due to the stress so many of us have dealt with during the crisis. However, your staffers can’t let that stand in the way of a supportive team dynamic. So, set communication guidelines to help them establish boundaries and boost internal collaboration, even if you’re still working remotely. As an example, everyone should check in at least once a day via the project management platform to update team members.
Outline Compliance Rules
Compliance is more important than ever before, especially with safety regulations. Employees need to be aware of the protocols for their job roles and departments. Warehouse staffers have different rules than sales staffers who interact with the public every day, as an example. Create compliance cheat sheets so that they know which regulations apply to them and how to avoid compliance breaches on the job. You can also include tips to help them enhance their overall wellbeing, such as ergonomics pointers to reduce the risk of injury.
Equip Your Team With Collaboration Tools
If they’re still telecommuting, team members should have a centralized communication hub to facilitate remote collaboration. For instance, they can log into the platform to delegate tasks or outline client requests regarding the upcoming project. That way, they still have the sense that they’re in constant communication instead of feeling isolated from the group. At the very least, they can use these communication tools to share valuable links or quick check-ins to improve comradery.
Focus On Work/Life Balance
More often than not, employees actually work more at home versus when they’re at the office. This is due to the fact that there aren’t any physical boundaries. The computer is always there, beckoning for them to check emails or complete the next step in the task. This is why it’s so essential to lay some ground rules. For instance, incorporate wellness activities or host live events to help them achieve a better work/life balance when working remotely. Flexible schedules and a support network are beneficial as well.
There’s no room in your organization for workers who aren’t ready to be “team players” or let personality clashes get in the way. With the right tools and L&D strategy, you can retain top talent and create a thriving corporate community. Download the eBook HR Team Building Guide: Secrets To Improve Your Team Dynamics And Boost Employee Morale for exclusive content that will help you vet vendors and find the best HR software, even if you’re on a tight timeline.
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