Maricopa Community Colleges Blog

13 Morale-Boosting Activities that Enhance Employee Engagement and Team Cohesion

Employees Celebrating Together

In the quest to keep remote and hybrid teams connected and morale high, we've gathered thirteen innovative activities from CEOs, Founders, and other leaders. From launching a Peer Praise Channel to implementing Peer-to-Peer Recognition, discover the unique strategies that have made a real difference in fostering employee engagement and team cohesion.

  • Launch a Peer Praise Channel
  • Facilitate Random Team Chats
  • Celebrate Weekly Team Milestones
  • Institute Mindful Mondays with Gratitude
  • Challenge Teams to Digital Detox
  • Create an Online Suggestion Platform
  • Host Virtual Coffee Breaks Weekly
  • Organize Weekly Team Lunch Check-Ins
  • Engage Teams with Virtual Trivia
  • Showcase Talents in Spotlight Sessions
  • Enjoy Happy Hours with Pets
  • Implement Peer-to-Peer Recognition
  • Replace Virtual Games with Workations

 

Launch a Peer Praise Channel

One morale-boosting activity that had a notable impact on employee engagement and team cohesion in our remote workplace was our #you-are-awesome channel. This is a peer-to-peer praise initiative we launched on our company Slack. It's a channel all remote employees are automatically added to, where any team member can post about any other team member at any time for extraordinary work or kind deeds. 

Ever since we implemented it, our team cohesion and morale have skyrocketed and stayed steady—it has been the single team-building exercise that's been consistent throughout our decade of working remotely. Whereas other activities ebb and flow depending on team interest and workload, employees contribute to #you-are-awesome consistently. 

It's greatly improved visibility for work-from-home employees who otherwise might feel like their work goes unseen, fostered a culture of gratitude where teammates feel seen and appreciated by their coworkers, boosted positivity and warm fuzzies, and helped distanced team members get familiar with other departments. I highly recommend this approach for any workplace—hybrid, remote, or in-person. It's easy, free, simple to sustain, and can have a dramatic impact on employee engagement.

Michael Alexis, CEO, Virtual Team Building

 

Facilitate Random Team Chats

Microsoft had a fun little tool built into Teams called Icebreaker, which was essentially a way for you to put a bunch of people into a Team and let the tool set up 15-minute meetings once a week between random groups of people. It was supposed to mimic bumping into someone random in the break room and starting a chat and, surprisingly, the tool worked way, way better than actual in-person interactions. 

People, by and large, are not going to start a conversation with a stranger unless prompted most of the time. That said, they still want to get to know their colleagues and feel like part of an in-group. This tool helped that out immensely, particularly for those who were hybrid or remote, as it gave them a good avenue to start getting to know people.

Dragos Badea, CEO, Yarooms

 

Celebrate Weekly Team Milestones

We implemented an end-of-week celebrations and milestones roundup initiative where each team member shared an achievement, no matter how big or small, over Slack at the end of the day each Friday. 

Achievements could be anything from increasing conversions to running a 5K in the week. Opening up a forum for the team to discuss both work- and non-work-related activities led to some great engaging conversations and really helped build rapport.

James Waite, Founder, Remoteopia

 

Institute Mindful Mondays with Gratitude

In my role as a marketing executive, I've observed that maintaining or even boosting morale can be particularly challenging in a remote or hybrid work environment. One effective strategy we implemented was inspired by the concept of "Mindful Mondays," which involves setting aside dedicated time for reflection and connection at the start of the workweek. This practice not only provided a structured way for team members to share their thoughts and feelings but also fostered a sense of community and support among the team.

We took it a step further by incorporating a "Gratitude Segment" where each team member mentioned one thing they were appreciative of, either within or outside of work. This segment, though simple, significantly uplifted the spirits and set a positive tone for the week ahead. We noticed a palpable shift in the team’s dynamic, with members expressing that they felt more connected and supported, which was reflected in their enthusiasm and collaboration on projects.

To measure the impact of "Mindful Mondays," we conducted regular pulse checks throughout the quarter, which revealed a 30% increase in team engagement and a noticeable decrease in stress levels. These insights proved the immense value of taking time to foster emotional and mental well-being in a remote setting, paving the way for a more resilient and cohesive team. This practice can easily be adapted by other organizations looking to enhance team spirit and well-being, especially in environments where remote work dominates.

Timothy J Williams, Principal Consultant, Thinksia

 

Challenge Teams to Digital Detox

At AQ Marketing, with our focus on digital marketing and client engagement, we've implemented a unique morale-boosting activity specifically tailored for our remote workforce: a 'Digital Detox Challenge.' Recognizing the intense screen time our team endures, this monthly challenge encourages employees to disconnect from digital devices for a set period during work hours, engaging instead in offline activities that promote mental health and creativity.

To make it engaging, we introduced a competitive element where team members share their offline activities, and the most creative or impactful activity wins a small prize. This approach not only prompted employees to take necessary breaks but also spurred creativity and personal sharing that brought the team closer. We saw a 25% improvement in reported job satisfaction and a noticeable reduction in burnout symptoms, as per our internal wellness surveys.

Implementing such an activity in other organizations might involve adjusting the challenge to fit the specific stressors and job roles within those environments. For instance, tech companies could emphasize offline problem-solving or creativity sessions, while service-oriented businesses might focus on community interaction or personal wellness activities. The key is to ensure activities are accessible and genuinely provide a break from the digital tools that dominate our work lives today.

Robert P. Dickey, President and CEO, AQ Marketing

 

Create an Online Suggestion Platform

One successful initiative we implemented involved setting up an online suggestion platform. This allowed all employees in the company, regardless of their position or location, to share their ideas or suggestions for improvements anonymously. This method not only promoted a culture of communication and creativity but also greatly boosted employee participation and team unity. It provided a platform for employees to express themselves, making them feel appreciated and involved in the company's growth.

For instance, one idea that emerged from the suggestion platform was to arrange team-building activities that catered to a variety of interests within the team, such as online gaming sessions, virtual escape challenges, and casual coffee meetups. Since we mostly work remotely, putting this concept into action resulted in an enhancement of team interactions as employees had the opportunity to connect on a level beyond work responsibilities. It fostered a friendly environment even in a remote setup, which ultimately contributed to building a more cohesive and motivated team.

David Rubie-Todd, Co-Founder and Marketing Director, Glide

 

Host Virtual Coffee Breaks Weekly

Since the pandemic, when our motion graphics company shifted to remote work, virtual coffee breaks became a hit. These weekly video calls became a cherished ritual, offering a casual space for colleagues to connect over coffee or tea from the comfort of their homes. Despite the physical distance, these breaks fostered personal connections and facilitated discussions on non-work-related topics, recreating the camaraderie of in-person interactions. 

The impact was profound, as these virtual gatherings strengthened bonds, instilled a sense of belonging, and lifted morale during uncertain times. Beyond socializing, these breaks provided a much-needed pause in the workday, allowing team members to recharge and return to tasks with renewed energy and focus. Ultimately, the implementation of virtual coffee breaks proved to be a simple yet powerful strategy for enhancing employee engagement and promoting team cohesion in our remote work environment.

Damar W, Content Writer, Explainerd

 

Organize Weekly Team Lunch Check-Ins

One activity we’ve started using for our hybrid team is a weekly team lunch and check-in every Friday. The entire team is encouraged to take their lunch break at the same time and jump on a video call together, where we all share a high point from the week, the biggest challenge from the week, and any other new developments or news they want to share. Usually, there’s also a good amount of complimenting each other’s meals or sharing jokes and funny anecdotes.

The main reason we started doing this was to keep remote and in-office team members connected and give them a chance to talk, commiserate, share advice, etc., since the opportunities for casual conversations tend to be limited when someone works remotely. 

We’ve also noticed it having a positive impact on morale, and many employees now look forward to their Friday lunches, especially during difficult or stressful weeks. Another unexpected benefit we’ve seen is more conversation and interaction between remote and in-office employees even outside of this designated conversation time, so it’s had a noticeable impact on our overall team engagement and cohesion.

Jon Hill, Chairman and CEO, The Energists

 

Engage Teams with Virtual Trivia

"Virtual Team-Building Events" was one morale-boosting activity we implemented in our office that had a notable impact on employee engagement and team cohesion. Despite the physical distance, we managed to encourage our remote employees. One particularly impactful event was the "Team Trivia" competition.

We organized teams with a mix of members from different departments and locations and hosted a trivia game using an online platform.

What was the impact of the event?

It provided an opportunity for team members to interact and bond while feeling relaxed. Working together in teams to answer trivia questions encouraged collaboration and teamwork. It made everyone feel connected and belong to a community. The game excited everyone and motivated them to participate and perform their best. Recognizing the winning team and celebrating their success helped boost morale and create a positive atmosphere within the team.

Saikat Ghosh, Associate Director of HR and Business, Technource

 

Showcase Talents in Spotlight Sessions

One morale-boosting activity that had a notable impact on employee engagement in our office was our monthly "Spotlight Sessions." These sessions provided an opportunity for team members to showcase their talents, passions, and personal achievements in a relaxed and supportive environment. Whether it was a musical performance, a cooking demonstration, or a presentation on a hobby or interest, each session allowed individuals to share a piece of themselves with their colleagues, fostering a sense of connection and camaraderie within the team.

The Spotlight Sessions not only boosted morale but also encouraged cross-departmental collaboration and appreciation for each other's unique skills and talents. By celebrating the diverse interests and talents of our team members, we were able to create a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture where everyone felt valued and recognized. Additionally, these sessions provided a welcome break from the daily routine and served as a source of inspiration and motivation for the entire team.

Tom Kohl, President, Industrial Fire

 

Enjoy Happy Hours with Pets

We organize happy hours with furry friends. We understand that “Zoom fatigue” is real, but we also recognize the importance of socializing and connecting with your team. Now, there's actually a way for animals to join your virtual happy hour.

You can let your team members introduce their pets at home. We used our employee engagement platform to host an event that featured employees' furry (or not-so-furry) friends. Employees submitted photos of their pets, and winners were chosen to receive special prizes. Everyone in the company could see the awards, and this helped enhance morale and connections all around the world.

Oliver Cordingley, Founder, CEO, and Career Expert, OurGen

 

Implement Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Peer-to-peer recognition has been a powerful way to improve connection across teams and locations. Recruiting every team member to look for the good things happening across teams or locations creates a really powerful culture where people feel seen for their day-to-day efforts. \

We give each team member a few dollars each month in a platform called Motivosity, and they can only use those dollars to celebrate others. The extra dollar doesn't change anyone's life, but it's the nudge to get people to look around and celebrate their peers.

Logan Mallory, Vice President of Marketing, Motivosity

 

Replace Virtual Games with Workations

Virtual games are entertaining but have little impact on teams. To achieve true team cohesion, you need something that connects people on a deeper level.

Naturally, people like having fun together, but playing online games is like a joyful moment with no long-term effects. You log out and are left with the feeling that you have missed something meaningful. Then there is usually work to catch up on.

People are not big fans of those activities, as far as I can tell based on my observations and conversations.

We work in hybrid mode, with some team members working only remotely. That's why I care about team bonding more than ever. Actually, I was always wondering: Can anything replace in-person meetings? I'm sure that the spirit and atmosphere of live events cannot be replicated online.

Well, that’s why we invited our teams for workations.

We booked a cottage in a stunning mountain setting in southeast Poland, where our teams could spend the week working together. They worked during the day, chilled in the evenings, and socialized all day long. On the weekend, all employees could enjoy this location and explore its nearby activities, such as mountain biking and kayaking.

Why did it work so well? Because people could finally meet in person, experience adventures, and make memories without using up their paid vacation days. As humans, we are simple beings. We enjoy socializing, but we need time to get to know each other and form ties. Giving this one week of effort made all the teams stronger.

Karolina Górska, Senior HR Coordinator, Delante


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