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George Avery teamwork

An oft-forgotten way to energise team morale



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At an unlikely place and time, George Avery, director of total compensation and benefits for IBM Asia Pacific, finds a surprising way to energise team morale.

Morale and engagement are always hot topics within the HR community. We are always trying to find ways to improve and strengthen the employee experience and their connection to the organisation. I had an interesting experience in this area recently and I wanted to share it.

Recently, we had an outing after work to celebrate a colleague who was moving to a new job within our company. Many of us had worked with him for the past few years in multiple countries (as our organisation had relocated from China to Singapore last year) and he was now moving to Brazil.

We had spent many long hours working together during that time. As it happens with these types of events, a number of people showed up that were not directly on our team and we began to introduce ourselves.

We found that many of us knew each other via email exchanges or frantic instant messages, but had not met face to face. “Oh, you are so-and-so. I’ve seen your name for a long time, but we’ve never met.”

As the night went on, we had some food and various beverages, but the most interesting thing was that we didn’t really discuss our work. I’m lucky enough to work for a very multi-cultural organisation so we had people from all over the world at our table. And the conversations that came from this were as varied as the participants.

We had discussions about who had the best rugby team (a passionate South African claimed this one), who had the best football team (with a number of Brazilians in attendance, there wasn’t much of a debate), the best island in the region to go on holiday (no consensus there), and so on.

We shared stories and laughter and at one point I remember thinking: “We all needed this. We all needed some time together just to relax and have fun.”

We shared stories and laughter and at one point I remember thinking: “We all needed this. We all needed some time together just to relax and have fun.”

The surprise of the night

Sometimes these events are awkward and can often be laced with incessant phone checking, but for a few hours on a beautiful Wednesday evening we sat and just enjoyed spending time with each other.

At the end of the night I walked back to the office as I had to dial into a late call with some colleagues from the US. But I did so with a feeling of invigoration in my spirit that I didn’t realise I needed until this had happened.

When I saw my other colleagues in the office the next day it looked like each of them might have had a similar experience and I noticed the interactions to be more positive and spirited within the team. This seemingly simple event had not only lifted our spirits, but also improved the attitude and atmosphere within our team.

While we spend so much time trying to think of ways for teams and people to feel connected in this increasingly mobile and social world, we need to remember the power and impact of these very personal interactions.

Not another team-building exercise

While we spend so much time trying to think of ways for teams and people to feel connected in this increasingly mobile and social world, we need to remember the power and impact of these very personal interactions.

The point is, we never want to infringe on people’s personal time more than our current work environments already do, but once in a while a group charity outing, a community service project or even just a happy hour can do wonders to re-energise employee morale.

Sharing these non-work related experiences with our colleagues can build the bonds we have and provide some additional perspectives that can keep people charged and moving forward together.

Image: Shutterstock



How do you know if your #learning is relevant for the #future?
Find out at the region's largest conference for HR and L&D practitioners, Learning & Development Asia, happening in September.
Register for early-bird savings now.

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