Building resilient and motivated teams during the winter crash

It seems like the Winter Lockdown has everybody on edge. In fact, a recent survey of 1,000 employees in the UK found 43% of employees to be demotivated and 38% less productive. Many of the organisations we have spoken to are deeply concerned about how shorter, darker days coupled with second lockdown is going to impact team connection, health & wellbeing and motivation. Now more than ever, tried and tested winter survival strategies are needed during these upcoming months of uncertainty.

In our Winter Survival Strategies webinar, we explored how leaders can build resilient and motivated teams to tackle this issue. In an eye-opening conversation with Narinder Sahota (Senior Director, Salesforce), Catherine Allen (Head of Keeping People Happy, Ella’s Kitchen) and our own CEO, Rosie Warin, the group shared their personal experiences and the impact of COVID and some practical solutions they’ve found for supporting their teams over the coming winter months.

Top five winter survival strategies

  1. Pause – With everyone working hard in an effort to keep their heads above water, it can feel impossible to take time to pause. But this is exactly what Catherine at Ella’s Kitchen has found is critical to sustaining pace over time, making this a marathon, not a sprint. For her, “use your time wisely” doesn’t mean “always be busy”. Sometimes, the wisest thing to do is to slow down, take time for yourself and recover. In agreement, Narinder shared that surge capacity is what we usually rely on to survive stressful situations over the short-term; however, the long-term nature of the pandemic means finding time to rest is important, which is why Kin&Co introduced two-hour Pace Yourself breaks that can be taken whenever needed to recuperate and Salesforce have no internal meetings on Fridays to give people time back to get things done.
  2. Recognise individual challenges – We’re all experiencing COVID and lockdown differently.  With many varying personal challenges, there’s no silver bullet to helping your people adapt. But, Ella’s has created network groups for people experiencing similar challenges i.e. groups for those who live alone or parents who have children, giving individuals the opportunity to share experiences, learnings and support each other. Kin&Co also believe in creating a network of support through a wellbeing buddy scheme for people to talk about non-work related issues and be present in their emotions.  Rosie explained that oftentimes we find it hard to sit on our emotions, but this is a critical step to moving forwards.
  3. Connect and communicate – Whilst Zoom, Teams and the like have helped organisations become more flexible, most of us still feel less connected than ever before.   As we head into winter, human connection is critical. To help recreate water cooler moments, Kin&Co and Ella’s have informal daily team meetings to discuss how everyone’s week is going and to celebrate each other’s achievements. Whereas Salesforce leaders have weekly meetings with the whole company to share their current strategy and answer questions employees have, emphasising the importance that vision that is born from communication and strangers cannot team.
  4. Compassionate leadership – Your people need their leaders to be there for them, now more than ever. That means being open and listening to them, then working with them to co-create solutions together.  A genuinely inclusive culture that is free of judgement and welcoming of all is going to be required for people to feel psychologically safe at work. Leading the way with this space, Kin&Co have been conducting internal D&I workshops to create a safe place for open discussions. The truth is, leaders need to take the first step and lead with vulnerability in order to harness a safe and inclusive culture. To help create this safe environment in practice, Narinder suggested understanding the 5 Myths of Compassionate Leadership.
  5. Resilience isn’t a stick to beat people with – For us to be resilient, we need to be able to recognise when we need more support as opposed to telling people to ‘work through the pain’ in the hope that they’ll get the same results. Narinder described resilience as the self-belief that you will bounce back and the self-compassion that will enable you to do so. Self-compassion was a key component for Rosie as resilience to her means being okay with not being okay and being open to accepting help. Similarly for Catherine, developing unique and non-harmful strategies to overcome difficult times can give you greater self-belief in your resilience and she shared a great TedX video on 3 Secrets to resilience.  We ended the webinar discussion agreeing that self compassion, self belief and developing unique strategies that work for you are all fundamental elements to resilience.

We’re here to help, if you need us…

We know that many organisations have started planning how to survive this lockdown and the winter crash. To support businesses with this, we have a 4-8 week leadership development programme that helps leaders create a culture of genuine inclusion, connection, and safety, particularly in remote environments.  If you need fresh thinking and an outside-in perspective, please do get in touch on This work is our bread and butter, and we’d love to help you through this challenging time.