Employees just want to have fun!

Thoughtful businessman drinking coffee and thinking at workplaceHelp! My employees are experiencing quarantine fatigue! My employees are disengaging! How do I motivate my team remotely?

Shortly after school went online, my daughter said to me, “They’ve taken away all the good stuff from school and made the bad stuff even worse.”  There’s no more lunchtime with friends, prom, spontaneous trip to Starbucks after school, and classes have gone from hands on interaction to dreadfully long zoom meetings where half the kids turn off their cameras.

Work is the same way.  If you ask most employees what makes work good, it will be the people they work with.  People like going to work because of the social interaction—and that’s exactly what’s missing right now.  There are no “water cooler” conversations, no Friday lunch outings, no after work activities.  We just go to dreadfully boring zoom meetings.

Managers have good reason to be concerned that their employees are not motivated because they aren’t.  Quarantine fatigue has set in.  How do you keep your employees engaged when they’re not working face-to-face?  There are lots of ways to incentivize performance remotely (see my free webinar for tips), but, right now, fun is the answer.  It’s time to add fun back into work.

Fun goes beyond the now-cliché virtual happy hour.  It means setting up the infrastructure and culture for people to engage with each other about personal things, enjoy humor, and feel connection.  Here is a small list of ideas that are working for leaders I work with.

  • Fun zoom meetings that are not about business. Introduce your families or pets, most creative dish you’ve made with limited ingredients, best vacation you’ve ever had, and so on. These can spawn themed Slack channels or email lists for continued engagement.
  • Fun Slack channels or email lists. Favorite playlist, favorite theme (jazz/hard rock/show tune/etc.) song of the day, Netflix binges, kids activities, pets, and so on.
  • Games. There are many online games available that are approachable to everyone. Try a 4:00 game time during work hours.  Break people up into teams to increase engagement and bonding among team members.
  • Virtual coffee and virtual lunch. Go for smaller, more personal meetings with team members and colleagues. Take someone to coffee or lunch one-on-one like you might normally do at work.  Just set it up virtually.  Perhaps you can even do a socially distant coffee or lunch in person and offer to drive to a park our other outdoor setting near where they live.
  • Teambuilding activities. We offer several teambuilding activities that are fun and engaging and are more relevant to work.  The Invisible Path game helps build trust and communication, the Strengthen Your Team activity uses the Gallup StrengthsFinder tool to help team members appreciate each other’s contributions, and our more sophisticated business simulation brings out the competition and challenge for people who crave that.

No matter which path you take, try to get your employees to smile again.  It really helps build morale.

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