Date: March 7th, 2018
By: Mila Garrido
I grew up in the mountains, so winter is one of my favorite seasons of the year: it makes me feel at home, and I am more productive. However, this is not a sentiment that will be shared by many. In the gloomy, dreary, and flu-infected winter months, we often see more people needing to take sick-time, not just because of sicknesses such as the cold or flu, but also because people need more mental health days.
It is very likely that the majority of your team members would rather stay in their warm and cozy beds than attend team meetings, write reports, or put together presentations. The winter blues might be affecting your team’s motivation and productivity. You cannot beat Mother Nature, so what can you do? Well, besides encouraging your team to get as much exposure as possible to the sunlight and continue using those walking meetings, there are two additional not-too-small strategies you can try to implement in your organization.
Here there are two concrete strategies you can advocate to implement in your organization to help your team stay motivated, especially during the colder months of the year…or when it seems like the spring is taking forever to come!
There are different ways that “Me Passes” can be structured and implemented; here are two variations.
In this world of information overload, where we get access and exposure to more content than we can honestly consume and process in a lifetime, there are times and content that your team members really want to and/or need to consume. However, between all their assigned deliverables and organizational demands, it is very likely that they don’t have the time or space. Me Passes provide the space and time to grow intellectually and stay-up-to-date. Me Passes create protected time that everybody gets in the organization. Me Passes are not part of an assigned project or initiative level of effort. Me Passes will allow your team members to catch up on those academic journals that have being sitting in their desks for months, look at those cool videos that another co-worker sent them around, read a report from another project, or just time to think and organize their thoughts without feeling concern that their supervisor will think that they are slacking. In this competitive and demanding world, it is very important to have a team that is up-to-date with the developments of the field as well as informed with what others are creating in order to stimulate creativity and innovation. Me Passes will help you to accomplish this and in the process keep your team motivated.
Another variation of “Me Passes”—particularly useful for agencies that cannot provide ample sick/vacation time, or for when work is too demanding and around the clock—is to use these passes to give employees time to run personal errands (e.g., go to see their kids play soccer, participate in a school field trip, attend a lecture) in the middle of the work day. This is again protected time that is not part of the sick/vacation time package but rather an added benefit that team members know they can use to take care of their personal matters.
Let’s be honest, life doesn’t happen only after working hours, and we should not be having to take our vacation time to run errands that are only able to complete during the working hours. If your team members are constantly having to forego those field trips and interesting lectures, they will start resenting their job, and they will not be as present and productive as they could have.
As we have discussed in previous blogs, having an unmotivated team means less productivity and creativity. Organizational volunteer opportunities provide another way to engage and motivate your team that is not necessarily related to what they do nine to five every day of the week. Volunteerism can help your team to have a sense of achievement at a personal and team level.
There are many benefits to implementing a volunteerism program in your organization:
- Your team members will feel that their job is more meaningful, and they are having a greater impact in the community.
- It allows your team to do work outside of their scope of work or field of practice, which provides them with new opportunities to develop new skills, including professional and leadership skills that can often result in more productivity.
- Volunteerism allows your team to work together towards a common goal, which is an effective method to foster team cohesiveness and motivation.
- Volunteerism could increase your team’s commitment, as they no longer ill see their job only as a contributing factor of the organization’s success but also as a changing force in the community where they volunteer.
Some tips to remember when setting a volunteer program:
- Identify the correct volunteerism model that aligns with the size and resources of your organization. I cannot emphasize enough that this should be protected time and a benefit that the whole organization should be aware of.
- Build an organizational culture where everybody volunteers. All levels of management should encourage participation.
- Ensure a good fit based on the size of your organization and the interest of your team members. At the same time, challenge your team, and identify an opportunity that will allow your team to gain new skills and perspectives.
- Publish your efforts both internally and externally. If you are doing good, let the world know about it to inspire others.
So how about it? How do you keep your team motivated through the winter blues? Have any of these ideas worked for you?
About the Author
Milagros Garrido, MS, Associate Director of Innovation and Research at Healthy Teen Network, is a creative educator committed to helping communities to learn, use, and translate practical and innovative approaches to solve public health issues.