This post is brought to you by Nina Vetter – Find me here!
What I’m watching: Brooklyn Nine-Nine reruns because that humor is what I need right now
What I’m reading: The Splendid and the Vile, because we can always learn from history
In local government, we rely on teams to function every day. I’m sure we’ve all spent time and effort over the years on building a sense of team, community, collaboration in our organizations. And then COVID-19 hit. It is hard to have the same sense of team while on a virtual meeting, in a mask or working in different buildings or locations. Multiple surveys have shown that over the last few months people feel more disconnected, despite efforts to stay “connected” via more virtual meetings. So we need to get creative. Yes, checking in with your team virtually more frequently is a good start, but we are creative we can do more.
I’m fortunate to have a super creative HR team that developed a brilliant idea. We typically host all employee picnics in the summer and fall with food, games and awards. Our employees were bummed when we told them we can’t hold them right now due to COVID-19. HR thought “why not a drive through lunch?” Let’s coordinate a time for employees to literally drive through our fire station bay, while we all hold up signs (wearing masks of course) saying how much we appreciate them and hand them a free lunch for the day? Well that was just the beginning. Add inflatable costumes, music, beach balls, and cookies. Here is me, an employee and an employee’s daughter in our inflatable costumes. We had tons of employees volunteer to help pack lunches, hand them out and hold up signs!
This may seem silly but it is important to get creative and focus on employee and team appreciation particularly during tumultuous times. So what’s next for us? We haven’t decided yet on an all employee activity, but we will be holding a “director swap” next month where two directors are paired up and switch departments for a day to see what it’s like to run a different part of the organization and learn new challenges and opportunities. I’m also requiring each of our directors to be “Manager for the Day”. I’m here to help, but they get to lead meetings, answer to emergencies and make decisions, all where we wear our masks.
And if you’re like me, maybe these ideas don’t come naturally to you – tap into all the great people you have in your organization that can help you come up with ideas you never would have dreamed of yourself. Team building never ends, despite the challenges COVID-19 presents us. Here’s to you finding an activity, a game or something that puts a smile on your team’s face and makes them feel just a tad bit more appreciated than they already do.