5 reasons why you need pre-shift team huddles

5 reasons why you need pre-shift team huddles

Looking to strengthen your team connection? Help communication flow? Keep customer experience top of mind? The answer is simple: pre-shift team huddles.

From foodservice to retail, so many industries can benefit from implementing this practice into their day-to-day workflows. After all, they’ve been proven time and time again to be a habit of high-performing teams. Making morning huddles a regular occurrence can help your team stay well-informed about your organization’s goings-on and keep focused – no matter what is happening. 

Team huddles are more than just a staff meeting. They’re a place for consistent, regular discussion in which employees at all levels communicate, share and address key performance indicators and areas of improvement. The purpose is to provide an open channel where your team members can safely share any questions or concerns they may have.

Here are five reasons pre-shift huddles are a must for any frontline organization: 

1. Team huddles boost team-building and employee engagement

Even if they’re small, teams can become siloed very quickly. The simplest explanation? People aren’t talking to one another. An obvious benefit of a regular touchpoint in the form of a morning huddle can be simple open communication, leading to a place where employees grow to trust one another. At pre-shift team huddles, they can give and receive help as they need and can be empowered to work together, rather than separately. 

Pre-shift huddles are an especially excellent mechanism for team-building between front of house and back of house staff in the restaurant and hospitality industries. And that time dedicated to building relationships between various staff functions can extend to your brand and customer experience. 

There’s also an employee advocacy play here, too. Employees who feel confident that they have the basics to reach their full potential (things like a safe workplace, fair pay, and the tools to do the job) can become staunch advocates of the brand and company they work for. 

Ultimately, team huddles lead to engaged, empowered employees ready to collaborate and contribute – and that high employee engagement leads to better retention, CX, sales, and myriad other benefits

2. Team huddles allow you to get proactive vs. reactive on employee feedback

We all know that better team communication goes a long way. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of managers are ill-equipped to have tough, necessary conversations. Team huddles can be instrumental in giving teams the space to identify and highlight the issues that require the attention of other levels of the organization.

It’s also the perfect place to foster a sense of safety, share best practices, and allow upward feedback. Say, for example, that a team member mentions a policy they believe needs to be changed. If their colleagues also share the same issue, managers can easily take that feedback and facilitate the necessary changes.

According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report 2020, it’s crucial that employers tap into and act upon employee feedback. By doing this, you are not only engaging your employees but involving them in decision-making. When given the space to share, employees can also help increase your organization’s competitive edge. Retail fashion giant Zara, for example, relies on its frontline staff to share feedback and insights around customer requests, trends and new style ideas by noticing what customers wear or are looking for as they shop. 

When employees believe they are heard and can contribute upward feedback, they can bring that happiness and ease to their work. You may see it shine through in their effectiveness and their interactions with customers and peers. 

3. Team huddles increase efficiency and consistency in task execution

When employees don’t have a good line of sight into what everyone is working on, there is a danger of duplicating tasks. This is inefficient – and can be significantly negative for your brand if it involves your customers. Pre-shift team huddles allow you to quickly and efficiently create systems that help your business flow better. Taking the time each day, even for five minutes, to go over priorities and goals drives consistency and task execution and can increase team cohesion and efficacy.

Huddles are an opportunity to seamlessly build new behaviours that push your team to excel. Cascading announcements and protocol changes from head office down through the huddles ensures that every employee understands standard procedures and processes in a deeper way – especially if you pair those huddle announcements with additional information in a digital communication platform that they can refer back to when needed. 

Team huddles also give leaders a chance to act and mobilize their teams to make adjustments that improve customers and employee experience. By quickly sharing bottlenecks or identifying blockers with the team gets more employees focused on a problem so that it can be solved in real-time. 

4. Team huddles keep you aligned on company goals

Goals and KPIs are the best way to tell you if you’re on target, and let you course-correct to get back on track. And your daily pre-shift huddle is an ideal place for reviewing metric updates, short-term priorities and overall company goals. 

Giving your team members a quick face-to-face before jumping into work keeps everyone aligned and on task. According to Inc., team huddles “keep companies focused on the same strategic goals, ensure timely answers solutions to important questions, and strengthen team accountability because everyone knows what everyone else is up to.” 

In a frontline organization, managers can use huddles to align their teams on priorities and drive performance in a fun way by tying your employees’ successes back to the company’s values and goals. Employers can even use gamification as an effective strategy for engaging deskless employees. You can now set up friendly competitions through a communication app (guess which one is our favourite?), track milestones, and reward deskless employees for their hard work. After all, providing employees with achievable goals and incentives has been closely linked to improving your bottom line and driving productivity. 

5. Team huddles give each team member a voice

Helping your employees feel valued is paramount, and you can drive that sense of value by ensuring they feel seen and heard. Research found that nearly 83% of managers say they give all their employees a voice. However…54% of employees feel voiceless. Does that math seem off to you?

It can be hard for organizations and managers to find ways to give each and every team member a voice – especially in an organization of hundreds of employees. That’s where pre-shift team huddles come in. 

Huddles can be the optimal time to share news, recognize employees, and highlight wins. A win could be anything: someone going several consecutive days (or months) without an accident, a team achieving a sales target, or even an employee’s personal win. That recognition of good work can go a long way toward giving team members – even in large organizations – a voice. 

A key piece of this is ensuring it’s your employees speaking up – not just your managers recognizing good work. Finding engaging ways to allow your employees to share updates or announce changes themselves during the huddle can be helpful. Giving them space to share and celebrate, professionally and personally, can make all the difference. For example, employees at many Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations vote on who delivered the best service during the past week, helping increase connection and add a spirit of friendly competition to their workdays. 

Teaching your team good client experience and company culture doesn’t end at the onboarding stage. Having a pre-shift huddle can help your managers balance functional issues and company purpose effortlessly. What may seem like a small act for your team could make a world of difference for your company and brand. 

4 ways to bring inclusion and diversity into your internal communications

4 ways to bring inclusion and diversity into your internal communications

Communicating with thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of deskless workers can be challenging. Fractured communications across locations, culture and language barriers, and an overall lack of belonging can leave organizations struggling to connect with your frontline. But you can increase engagement across all your deskless employees by championing diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

What diversity and inclusion is (and why organizations should prioritize it) 

The role that diversity and inclusion plays in business success is undeniable, but not all organizations have a clear sense of what D&I is. To understand it better, remember that diversity is about variety in representation, and inclusion is about engagement. Data suggests that teams focused on diversity and inclusion tend to deliver the highest levels of engagement and a strong sense of belonging. 

And that’s critical right now, because over time, and especially during the pandemic, a lack of prioritization of deskless workers has led to feelings of isolation and apathy. Despite efforts by employers, deskless employees struggle to feel valued, appreciated and motivated, with only 56% saying they feel “connected and engaged by their employers.” This highlights a diminished sense of trust, connection, and communication between employees and employers. 

Accelerating diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace can proactively combat these feelings of disconnect. Weaving D&I principles throughout your workplace can have resounding effects, including higher engagement and an increase in a sense of belonging. In other words: companies that create environments where employees’ differences are celebrated will reap great results. 

In fact, one Deloitte study found that focusing on workplace belonging can lead to a 56% increase in overall employee job performance and can be attributed to a reduction in employee turnover risk by 50%. When it comes to profits, companies that report high levels of internal diversity tend to bring in 15 times more sales revenue than companies with lower levels of diversity. 

The advantages that come from infusing diversity and inclusion initiatives into your internal communications plan go beyond anything that numbers and metrics can see. The benefits of an inclusive workforce can be attributed to a myriad of things, including better team problem solving and an increase in a sense of belonging and overall workforce engagement

To encourage belonging, organizations should aim to create an environment where all employees from all different walks of life feel valued, respected and safe. They should approach inclusion and diversity in the workplace authentically and transparently, and avoid being performative. With that in mind, the role that internal communications plays in engaging your teams and frontline workers in diversity and inclusion initiatives is vital. Beyond effectively sharing important information, it helps push through important agendas and campaigns to underpin the company’s values and overall mission, which can extend and amplify D&I efforts. 

Not sure where to start? Here are four ways to use inclusion and diversity initiatives to shape your communications, to engage and celebrate your employees, no matter who (or where!) they are. 

1. Create D&I-based communication standards

An essential part of communication is just that: communicating. And successful communications rely on inclusive language. The language you use should be free from tones, words, or phrases that promote discriminatory, prejudiced or stereotyped perceptions of specific people or groups.  

For example, the term “guys” is a catchall phrase to refer to a group no matter their gender. Yet, for many, including non-binary, non-conforming, transgendered women and men, this term can reinforce a lack of belonging. Simply replacing this term with something like everyone or team can be more inclusive. 

As times change and our collective understanding of diversity in the workplace continues to evolve, so too does our language. It’s up to us to be thoughtful about how we express ourselves and work to avoid excluding others from being seen as part of a group. When in doubt, always lead with empathy.

Setting guidelines around language use and offering support can go a long way. Our words hold power, and in this case, they can have the power of making or breaking your relationships with or between employees. 

What you can do today: Be proactive. Set a standard for inclusive language that is neutral, intersectional and includes everyone in the organization, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, and more. Maintain consistency with a conscious style guide, which will help answer questions around spelling, phrasing, and more.

Make sure you include your employees! Engage your D&I team or create a committee to encourage better language usage and weed out problematic or outdated phrasing. Revisit quarterly and keep adjusting. 

2. Celebrate differences through storytelling 

One of the most effective ways to grow your inclusion efforts is to share positive stories of the diverse group of employees within the organization. This helps your workforce see that the company gives fair opportunities to people from various backgrounds. Find ways to celebrate your employees’ different opinions and ideas while giving credit where it’s due. Highlight their successes by attributing to an individual an idea they put forward or celebrate their wins with an expression of gratitude. Find ways to sponsor underrepresented individuals.

Sharing successes not only promotes a stronger company culture, but it lends itself to a company’s ability to story-tell. As storytelling expert Michael Kass explains, this can help a company “divest from exploitative ways of being and relationships with the communities and people we purport to serve while fostering more equitable, inclusive, and human relationships.” 

For example, HSBC brought together their global workforce with a photo competition. This company-wide initiative was focused on showing off the unique perspectives of their employees – afterward, a compilation on YouTube helped HSBC’s workforce to see the magnitude of their submissions.

What you can do today: Organizations can begin by building strong relationships with a diverse group of employees. Be a listener and amplify those voices; make an effort to get an objective review on all communications. Speak with your company’s BIPOC and underrepresented groups. Listen to understand, not to defend. 

Make space in a company newsletter for features like “a day in the life of” highlighting unique team members and their journeys, aspirations or goals. Set up contests or events where employees can showcase their unique perspectives. 

3. Facilitate psychological safety 

Being a good listener is vital, but for larger organizational change, leaders must facilitate a space where everyone is encouraged to have vulnerable and honest conversations. This means fostering a sense of psychological safety, the process of providing safe spaces for employees to challenge and ask for help without fear of repercussion. Managers who actively create psychological safety workplaces are less likely to experience turnover on their teams. 

In organizations with high psychological safety, employees are empowered to give honest, valuable feedback. By speaking up to and sharing with those in positions of power, employees can help challenge the status quo, creating a cascade effect of identifying problems and finding opportunities for improvement. And so, part of encouraging psychological safety means being prepared to respond to and facilitate discussions around tougher conversations

By eschewing the concept of staying apolitical and encouraging dialogue around your employees’ differences, you can promote healthy conflict and curiosity. Through sharing constructively and safely, your employees can be sure that their differences are respected and valued. 

What you can do today: To empower employees to share more, consult your team during the decision-making process and ask them for their input. Don’t stop there; once the decision has been made, keep engaging your employees and including them in the conversation.

Also, be authentic and transparent. Encourage the management team to arrive to each conversation willing to share successes and failures. Provide opportunities for your employees to get to know who their leaders are. This could be in the form of monthly AMAs, dedicated office hours, or monthly leadership fireside chats – all of which can be done virtually to connect globally dispersed teams. 

4. Keep testing and improving

As you build out your roadmap to add more diversity and inclusion initiatives to your communications plans, you’ll want to find ways to keep improving your efforts and check in on the impacts of your programs. Here are some ways to check in on your diversity and inclusion initiatives:

  • Create feedback loops: This can be done via weekly polls, continuous feedback and pulse surveys, as well as specific outreach to underrepresented groups.
  • Ask for help: Work with the D&I department and ERGs to gain feedback on messaging to make sure you’re hitting the mark. 
  • Dive into data: There is a direct correlation between diversity in the workplace and critical HR metrics such as employee retention and engagement. To review the success of your diversity and inclusion initiatives, pair anecdotal feedback with these analytics. 

By prioritizing and championing diversity and inclusion initiatives, you set your entire team up for success. The benefits of making this investment will return tenfold in the form of employee engagement, retention, and increased innovation. What more could you ask for?