No company can afford the costs associated with low team morale. If you get the sense that teams are no longer engaged, it’s time to act. In this article, we explore activities and events that re-energize your teams and build connection and camaraderie while boosting morale.
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What Is Team Morale?
Team morale is crucial for every company. But what exactly does morale mean? For that answer, we’ll turn to Oxford Languages. Morale refers to “the confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline of a person or group at a particular time.” The higher the morale within your company, the better. High team morale can take shape in a few ways. Ask yourself:
● Are people excited to partner together to complete tasks and solve problems?
● Is there good, effective communication between team members?
● Are folks comfortable sharing their thoughts and feedback?
● Is there a sense of support and camaraderie among team members?
● Does the team or company retain top performers?
● Do teams often innovate to craft creative and compelling solutions?
Ideally, the answer to all questions above is “Yes!” Groups that demonstrate some or all of the above behaviors show signs of high team morale. And high team morale is well worth the effort; it’s linked to many benefits, such as retention, innovation, satisfaction, and overall well-being in employees. In short, teams that feel better, perform better.
That said, let’s dive into some of the warning signs associated with low team morale.
Signs of Low Team Morale
When morale is low or dipping, there are some common, observable behaviors and signs to look out for.
Most of us have been there or watched it happen — someone poses a question to the team and the silence is nearly audible. When morale is low, one of the first signs is often a lack of engagement and silence in meetings or brainstorms. Teams lose the enthusiasm to chime in with new ideas and opinions because they no longer care or are invested in the company’s future. Missing out on fresh ideas from team members could keep your company from making meaningful strides.
Now, silence can sometimes occur because folks are just shy or introverted. But whether it’s a matter of personality or morale, silence on calls where you are soliciting new ideas and opinions means you need to strategize ways to raise the energy, engagement, comfort, and, of course, the morale within your team.
Lack of Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm is baked into the cake for high team morale; it’s right in the definition. If you get the hint that your teams are thinking, “What’s the point” or “Nobody cares anyway” — that’s a clear sign your morale is low. People who are excited about their work are more motivated to innovate and ideate, two factors that drive industry dominance for a company.
Lack of Initiative
High morale is linked to confidence. Do your team members seize or create opportunities to take charge before they’re told? Are they motivated to take ownership over their work and the business outcomes? To spot this sign of low morale, consider whether you spend a lot of time dictating what needs to be done to your teams. When your people are fully on board and energized, they’ll begin solving problems you didn’t even know were there.
Is there any “us versus them” mentality between multiple teams or even within teams? Silos at work can be dangerous because ideas and best practices no longer flow throughout the organization. This reduces efficiency and almost always results in duplicated efforts.
Once morale reaches a critically low point, high turnover rates are just about inevitable. This can spell trouble for your company. Here’s why: Gallup estimates that replacing an employee can cost anywhere from one-half to two times an individual’s salary. Overall, U.S. companies are losing somewhere in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars every year due to high turnover. In other words, when morale is low, it’ll start to significantly impact your company’s bottom line.
To make matters worse, when your best people start leaving, it can create a ripple effect throughout the organization. You lose not only time but also key historical knowledge about the ways of working at your company. This often places a strain on the remaining workers which drives morale further down.
Three Employee Concerns That Drain Morale
When taking a closer look at your employee morale, be sure to assess employee satisfaction in these three, major areas.
1. Work/life balance
Work/life balance is a key driver for morale. If your team is overworked and spread too thin, morale is going to be low. Be sure to keep teams as well staffed as possible. Allow flexible work schedules and, if possible, the option to work from home.
Encouraging and investing in employee wellness will go a long way for morale. Employee wellness is important to your people, and it should be important to the company. Employers that focus on encouraging healthy lifestyles for their people perform better and cut healthcare costs for everyone.
3. Learning and development
Employee training is essential to every business. Employees with opportunities to learn and grow are more engaged and experience higher levels of job satisfaction. As industries innovate and change over time, you need to continuously level-up your people.
How To Rebuild Team Morale
By now, you are appropriately concerned about the negative impacts of low morale and can spot the common signs. The good news is that improving morale and team building can be a lot of fun! Let’s shift gears and dive into some ways to boost or even rebuild team morale at your company.
7 Team Building Activities To Boost Morale
As mentioned above, silence is one of the signs of low morale. Icebreakers are a fun way to warm everyone up and get them comfortable speaking up during meetings. With the rise in virtual work, team members might feel disconnected and could use some fun, low-pressure tactics to encourage conversation before a meeting begins.
1. Two Truths and a Lie
Break the ice by having folks share two truths and a lie about themselves. Everyone else gets to guess the lie. This warm-up game helps you learn fun facts about your team members. You’ll have fun while building better connections within the team.
2. Would You Rather?
Would you rather Coke or Pepsi? iPhone or Android? This is an easy-to-explain, fast and fun game to help energize the start of any meeting.
3. Word Association
This quick and easy game asks people to say the first word that comes to mind. In a circle, have one person start by saying any word. Each person after that will share whatever word comes to mind when they hear what the person ahead of them said. Here’s how that might look:
Person 1: Beach
Person 2: Shell
Person 3: Taco
Person 4: Bell
The game can go on as long as you’d like or until someone breaks the chain by taking too long! The goal is to move fast. The faster you pressure people to answer, the funnier it gets!
4. Tell a Story in 30 Seconds or Less
To kick off your next meeting, have folks go around the room and share a story! It can be work-related, like perhaps passing down fun company memories. Or it can be a funny story that employees choose to share. You’re guaranteed to learn some interesting things about your team members. If people don’t want to share a personal story, they can make one up! It’s an easy way to get creative and earn some laughs.
5. Desert Island
This classic thought experiment asks players to imagine they were stuck on a desert island with only a few things. You can try out different prompts like:
- If you were stuck on a desert island and could only bring five music albums with you, what would they be?
- If you were stuck on a desert island and could only bring five books with you, what would they be?
- If you were stuck on a desert island and could only bring five things with you, what would they be?
You can play with the number or the topic to learn more about your team.
There are hundreds of fun questions or games you can create or ask. But if you’re looking for even more ideas, check out this list of more than 150 ice breaker questions for the next time you’re with your team!
Remember: Don’t be afraid to get creative and definitely don’t underestimate the power of awarding a prize. You can even kick off a call with a two-question pop quiz on company history and award the winner(s) with a gift card to your company store, Amazon, DoorDash, or Starbucks.
Team Morale Events
Boosting team morale is a continuous process of investing in opportunities to build connections with your team members. Below you’ll find events and activities that get your team together to problem solve, compete, laugh, or communicate to meet a shared goal.
1. Award Ceremony
Recognition is key for boosting morale. Your people want to know they’re appreciated for all their efforts. Why not make an event out of it? Host an award ceremony where you recognize employees for recent achievements, contributions, work anniversaries, and more. You can even mix in a few awards just for fun like The Coffee Connoisseur, Most Likely to be Five Minutes Late, or Excels in Excel.
A lively trivia competition is always lots of fun. Split into groups and compete for the most correct answers to questions about topics like company history, general knowledge, and pop culture.
3. Lunch and Learn
Employees who learn and develop on the job are more fulfilled and experience higher levels of company morale. By investing in your people’s development, you communicate that you care for them. Order some food and host training about providing feedback, having tough conversations, or for a specific software or skill for your company. You can even invite guest speakers to add some variety!
4. Volunteer Day
Companies that give back and invest in local communities demonstrate the values employees are eager to see. Volunteering is associated with wellness and improved mood. Your people will bond as they make a difference in the community.
Is your team looking for its next adventure? Try ziplining! Ziplining involves strapping on a harness to ride a cable. This action-filled activity is sure to get the endorphins flowing as your team embarks on this adventure together.
Paintball requires focus and determination to win. Your teams will have a blast stealthily navigating an obstacle course to conquer the other team. Running through the woods and experiencing a rush of adrenaline is sure to re-energize your team as you hunt each other down.
7. Axe Throwing
It’s as simple as it sounds, and your team will enjoy this out-of-the-box activity. Like darts, you aim for a target and score points based on accuracy. Companies like Bad Axe Throwing have locations all across the U.S. and Canada, and provide a unique opportunity for your team to bond.
How To Build Team Morale Remotely
Remote teams might need some extra love to keep morale high. Thankfully, these days you can build morale remotely just as effectively as you can in person.
Try these virtual team-building activities with your people:
1. Escape Rooms
Just like in-person escape rooms, virtual escape rooms offer teams the ability to solve puzzles and riddles, decode clues, and hopefully make it out of the room!
2. Scavenger Hunts
Virtual scavenger hunts are a fantastic team-building activity. Not only is it a blast, but there are also tons of ways to customize the experience for each team. You can hunt for items online, take pictures of items in the home, or do a combination of both!
3. Mystery Games
Any amateur detectives on your team? Try out some virtual mystery games! Mystery games invite your team to work together as detectives to solve a crime. Analyze surveillance videos and uncover evidence to determine the culprit.
Team building and boosting morale doesn’t have to take long. Good morale is a product of continual, incremental efforts — not a one-and-done event or activity. This means you can (and should) use the ideas and activities above repeatedly to continuously encourage high team morale across your organization!
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