Accsys, winner of the Management of People Award in the medium enterprise category
How to keep morale up in a lockdown
Here’s a Covid-19 lockdown feat that’s hard to beat: 101 consecutive days of messages to staff and 175 days of LinkedIn posts. If there was one thing Accsys staff and LinkedIn followers could count on in those most uncertain of times, it was that each new day would bring a message from then Accsys CEO Teryl Schroenn.
Don’t think for a moment these messages were the product of a team of ghost writers working feverishly behind the scenes to script the daily message. On the contrary, each and every note was personally written by Teryl herself.
“Communication is a big thing for me,” says Teryl, now a director at Accsys. “With all of us working from home, it was important to keep everyone connected and morale up.”
Sometimes external events would offer an easy entry into the message of the day to staff, such as the President’s latest speech or the first time she heard the term “new normal” being used; sometimes it would be about what the different teams in Accsys were working on, or nuggets of staff news mixed with business updates; and sometimes the daily post would be inspired by something completely different, such as the fact that the Virginia opossum can produce 16 babies in only 12 days.
“I tried all sorts of things to keep morale going,” says Teryl.
It worked, apparently.
“We all became dependent on that daily email from Teryl,” says Leigh La’Fember, PR and Marketing Manager. “It must have been really difficult to think of something new to say every day, but she did it, and we all felt connected, even though we were all over South Africa.”
The virtual meetings that Teryl began hosting added to the bonding process. “At the first meeting, about 90 of us dialled in and a lot of us were teary-eyed. It was a very good feeling,” says Leigh, adding that she had started viewing her colleagues, including senior management, differently during lockdown. “We always saw Teryl as the CEO – our boss – but she became like the head of a home, keeping us together. It calmed me and made me less anxious.”
While Teryl stopped writing her daily staff messages at the end of July 2020 and her LinkedIn messages in September, the closeness staff felt during those early days of lockdown has not dissipated. “I had a call with the sales team last night, and they say they’ve never been closer,” says Teryl. “That ability for everybody to talk to everybody else has been very positive.”
It all comes back to communication – 101 staff messages and 175 LinkedIn posts, to be exact.