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With the current challenges in the labor market, it is more important now than ever for companies to retain their current talent. Ensuring employee satisfaction and positive morale at work can be a daunting task during normal times, but the problem is exacerbated now due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related pressures on personal and professional lives. FGIA prides itself on its high retention rate, with the average employment tenure currently being 7 years. I suspect this is, in part, the result of dedicating some work time to perks like Staff Week, which we celebrate twice a year. If you are looking for a way to gather your team virtually for a low-key but fun teambuilding experience, consider doing something similar. It can be cost effective yet extremely rewarding, and it can go a long way toward pulling a remote team closer together.

Every winter, FGIA gathers for our holiday Staff Week, during which we play games together, share stories and eat delicious food. In 2021, much like the year before, we have had to assemble online rather than in person due to the ongoing pandemic. While we all prefer to be in person, I have to say, we made the most of our options for online connection. From a hilarious round of “Two Truths and a Lie” to a murder mystery puzzle solved in teams over Zoom, we had a great time together.

On Monday morning, we spent an hour playing a round of online Jeopardy! with questions about Halloween as well as the Canadian and American Thanksgivings. It was nice to have some fun together while learning holiday factoids and gaining a better appreciation of our geographic counterparts’ Thanksgiving holiday traditions. For Tuesday’s morning coffee hour, we asked staff to come prepared with two true statements about themselves and one whopper – that way, everyone could guess the lie and learn more about one another (and laugh until we cried and our sides ached).

On Wednesday, we played another round of Jeopardy! about Christmas celebrations around the world, brushing up on our geography and general knowledge for prizes. We skipped Thursday morning in favor of a benefits meeting for 2022, but we got right back into the swing of things Friday with a virtual murder mystery party. I don’t know if you’ve ever been a dinner party version of this, but I can tell you, thanks to the talented actors we worked with, the exciting energy and comic relief carries across surprisingly well on Zoom. Everyone got involved and thanks to online breakout rooms of four different teams, everyone got a chance to work together to solve the mystery. Plus, it let some managers who were in on the game dust off their acting skills. We capped off the week with our traditional game of BINGO which, with prizes like Amazon gift cards on the line, gets more competitive than you might expect! (But it’s all in good fun.)

Engaging with one another on a more social and personal level has been a great way to build a tighter-knit team which has the added advantage of flowing into smoother interactions in our daily work. And it doesn’t have to require a lot of time or money to do. In light of a more virtual-heavy work environment during the last two years, we haven’t relied solely on our biannual Staff Week celebrations. Once or twice a month, we host a virtual staff coffee hour in the morning with a theme that helps us know each other better. We’ve shared high school senior photos, baby photos, and stories of favorite vacations, hobbies and childhood toys, and have strengthened our connections with one another along the way.

What does your company do to keep employees happy at work? What can FGIA do to help? Let us know in the comments!