A happy team is a productive team, meaning that when people enjoy their work and feel connected to their colleagues, they're more likely to go above and beyond to deliver exceptional service.
When it comes to boosting team morale and fostering a positive work environment, Sandy Confer is the go-to expert. On the 57th Episode of Ticket Volume, our IT podcast, she highlighted the significance of creating a supportive and collaborative atmosphere where everyone feels valued and included. She knows that when people enjoy their work and feel connected to their colleagues, they're more likely to go above and beyond to deliver exceptional service.
But Sandy doesn't just talk the talk – she walks the walk. Throughout her career, she has implemented a variety of strategies, practical tips, and creative activities to boost team morale. Whether it's organizing team-building exercises, celebrating achievements, or simply injecting some humor into the workplace, Sandy knows how to keep things lively and engaging.
With her extensive background as a Technical Support Associate at Brodart and her current role as an IT Support Specialist at Penn State University, Sandy has seen it all. She understands the unique challenges and dynamics of the IT support world and knows exactly what it takes to keep a team motivated and performing at their best.
Make sure to tune in to the entire episode featuring Conder. Her practical tips, ideas, and infectious enthusiasm will help you create a team that not only delivers exceptional service but also enjoys every minute of it. And remember, you can sign up for our monthly live recordings and directly ask any questions during the session.
Confer’s ultimate guide on how to boost team morale
But first, an example.
Remote work has brought about several challenges, particularly in the area of Password Management. Confer explained how Penn State University has adopted a unique method where users create their passwords from the beginning, eliminating the need to send passwords through email or other non-secure methods.
The university also creates user accounts for job applicants, which carry over even if they attend events like soccer camps. Once hired, the account transitions from limited to full standard access with different responsibilities and permissions.
Why is this important? Because maintaining high morale is crucial for team engagement in a virtual world and in a society that is now immersed in remote world culture. Morale affects how employees feel about work and their level of excitement, and low morale can lead to isolation and disengagement. Morale is also a good indicator of employee experience. When morale drops, it affects how employees feel about work and their overall experience.
Confer considerations come from the fact that in higher education support, busy periods such as semester start and grading periods can be stressful, and there is an increased demand for support services. Hence, it is essential to manage these periods effectively to avoid burnout and ensure that employees can provide the necessary support.
"We try to have fun even when it's not busy, so we like to celebrate certain times like Customer Service Week. We do fun and relaxing activities to recognize everybody for their hard work all year, during both busy and non-busy times."
But, outside of special occasions, there are other paths IT teams can take to boost morale.
Incentives can be a powerful tool for encouraging participation and motivating individuals. However, it is important to consider the type of incentives being offered and ensure they are fair and meaningful to participants.
One fun incentive mentioned by Confer was a little trophy with a reindeer and a red nose. This small prize can create a sense of achievement and excitement for participants. Additionally, they used a prize wheel for some semester-start games, where participants had the chance to win 15 minutes off their phones or other small rewards.
Furthermore, Confer shared that non-monetary rewards can be just as effective and motivating as monetary rewards. Offering benefits like extra break time, the option to leave early, or the flexibility to choose when to use their earned rewards can go a long way. Imagine the joy on participants' faces when they get that extra break during a busy period. It's a simple gesture, but it shows recognition and appreciation for their hard work, boosting morale and keeping them motivated.
These rewards can be highly valued, especially during busy times, and can provide a sense of recognition and appreciation for participants' efforts.
"It's crazy how quickly you can feel the impact of a manager who is actively involved in creating a fun and engaging environment. When our manager temporarily took an interim position, her absence was noticeable, and I realized the importance of maintaining that positive atmosphere. Being similar to her in personality, I felt compelled to step up and continue the fun activities she had initiated, while also introducing new ideas. This presentation is my way of sharing the enjoyable experiences I've created at work because there's nothing better than having fun while being productive. That's what inspired me to present for the first time."
But here's the golden rule - fairness is key. Incentive programs should be designed with equality in mind. Every participant deserves an equal and fair chance of winning. She confessed that they had included a "no prize" option on the prize wheel but decided not to do it again due to negative feedback. Instead, they used options like "spin again" to maintain fairness and avoid disappointment.
The takeaway is that IT managers should design incentive programs that excite and engage participants, recognize their efforts with non-monetary rewards, and most importantly, ensure that everyone gets a fair chance to win.
You can find the full episode on popular platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or any other podcast platform you prefer. Remember to subscribe if you're interested in joining the monthly live recordings!