Staff productivity
Nov 25, 2022

Improving teamwork and morale

Before sitting down to write this week's blog, I logged onto Facebook and came across a question from someone asking "What are the biggest problems you face as a manager?" In the comments, I was surprised to see how many managers were struggling with staff issues, low morale and a lack of teamwork, and instantly knew I wanted to write a piece to support managers going through this.

Mark Topps
Mark Topps
Regional Business Manager

Table of contents

Review your culture and workplace

One of the key responsibilities of any manager is the culture within the team and if you know that your team are unhappy, then you need to sit down and do a deep dive analysis. Some of the things you want to investigate are:

  • Values – are you and your team delivering the same values? If you’re not, you need to find out why and put steps into place to overcome this. Your values should include something around teamwork or collaboration, and this should be a focus in team meetings, supervisions and annual appraisals, so that you can positively reinforce value-aligned behaviours and correct any misaligned ones. Values should start right from the recruitment and onboarding process so that you get the right people join your organisation who share the same ethos as you. Look at your interview questions, are they values based and does the job description ensure people know what your expectations would be from them?
  • Gather feedback from the team and do this on a regular basis. Staff surveys are proven methods to gather feedback and continually gauge culture within the team. Make sure you ask open-ended questions so people can write what they want and don’t take feedback personally and use it as a chance to learn, change and move forward. Try asking questions like:

      - Do you get recognition for your work?
      - How satisfied are you with your work-related benefits?
      - Do you feel the leadership cares about you as a person?
      - How do you perceive the morale at the company?
      - How would you rate the morale on a scale of 1-10?
  • Check review boards such as Glassdoor, your company Facebook page, Indeed etc to see what current employees are saying about your service and why others have left.Ensure all team members have clearly defined job roles so there’s no confusion over responsibilities.
  • Observe the team from afar so it doesn’t make people feel intimidated and so that you can see people in their true state at work. Remember, you’re looking for poor morale indicators such as negativity, poor work quality, people not following the policies and procedures, gossiping etc. At this stage you’re monitoring but make a note so you can deal with it. Remember, it’s all staff you should monitor, including other managers and senior staff.
  • Look at sickness levels across the team. Are there any patterns, particular staff etc?

Review yourself

No one wants to think that they are the cause of poor morale and bad teamwork, but as a manager you have the greatest influence over it. Some easy actions you can take include:

  • Think about if you’re the problem. Are you finding yourself considering "Staff are driving me mad," or "My job would be easier without staff," or something similar? If so, you need to take a break. It could be that you’re close to burnout and overtired, or it could just be something within the team that’s been an issue for a period. Thinking and saying these things unconsciously plant that seed in your mind deeper and if you’re saying it out loud to other managers or to team members, it can plant deeper seeds for poor morale.
  • Reflect whether you’re consistent in how you treat and manage each member of staff.
  • Ensure you’re communicating effectively.
  • Make sure you’re not micromanaging, but instead trust people and given them a chance to have their say and be part of a team that collaborates, listens and learns from one another.
  • Seek support where needed from your manager or HR advisor/team. Ensure you’re dealing with negativity, bullying, discrimination etc.

Make changes

Once you’ve reviewed the culture, you can look to begin improving team morale. It’s probably worth noting that morale is not a quick fix that’s going to happen overnight, but something you’ll need to work on over a longer period.

Here are some ideas of changes you can make:

  • Seek feedback through a survey.
  • Invest in team building/bonding days.
  • Get staff to work together to overcome problems.
  • Review shift patterns and promote work-life balance.
  • Remember to say thank you, congratulate people when they’ve done a good job and don’t underestimate the power of small gestures.
  • Ensure people have the chance to develop and train.
  • Communicate effectively and use various methods to ensure everyone receives the message, whilst ensuring any other senior staff do the same.
  • Set clear expectations and manage poor performance and complaints so that they don’t escalate.
  • Create a safe space for feedback (two-way system).
  • Look at staff incentives such as pay rises, extra annual leave, pay day pizza, work nights out etc. Speak to your team about what they’d like (there’s nothing worse than a work-related perk that no one uses!)
  • Upskill deputies and seniors so that they have the tools, resources and equipment to do their jobs.
  • Set the tone from the top.
  • Do something small that makes a big impact everyday such as:

     - Recognise one person.
     - Give feedback.
     - Admit if you have made a mistake.
     - Thank someone.
     - Buy some cakes for the staff room.
     - Encourage and empower someone to make a choice.
     - Tell someone the positive impact they have had on the company or someone they support/work with.
     - Ask for feedback on you as a manager, the team or morale.
     - Ask someone for an idea.
     - Smile and laugh with your team – be part of it.

Consistency is key

Whilst this blog provides some tips and tricks to improving teamwork and morale, it’s important that you do your own research as well. Most of the things I’ve mentioned are low cost and if you implement two or three of these, your team will notice.

Remember to be consistent, make changes for the long term and for things more than once. The takeaway is that improved teamwork and morale will reduce your workload in the long run as you’ll have a happier care team.

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