ACADEMIC SUCCESS EXCHANGE
Working with students can be a very rewarding job, but it can also be very challenging, especially for peer tutors who find themselves in a leadership position with their peers.
One of the particularly challenging aspects of this past year for academic center managers is how to keep their staff engaged and how to boost morale when so much of their activities have shifted to an online model, attendance is down, and students and staff have a lot more on their mind than usual. So for this week’s Academic Success session, we discussed Engaging and Morale Boosting Activities. We’re excited to share with you some of the ideas that came up during this discussion, and we hope they will be helpful to you as you navigate these uncertain times. And if you have ideas of your own, please share them in the comments!
Morale Boosting Activities
We asked attendees what types of activities they’ve done in the past to promote engagement and boost morale, and we got some fun answers! Among the activities discussed were hot chocolate nights and ice cream sundae bars. We also discussed some of the activities we’ve done at the Engineerica office, such as Gratitude Month, where our team members were encouraged to cover a wall with post-it notes expressing gratitude for coworkers who had been helpful to them.
For tutors working virtually, it can be an additional challenge to find ways to boost their moods and help them feel connected. One suggestion proposed was to create a tutor survival kit with items that the tutors will find useful or fun, such as water bottles, a yoga or meditation guide, or coffee.
When choosing these types of activities, it’s good to think about how to boost morale while also showing your tutors or staff their impact on students. For example, you can collect feedback from students who have used your services and pass on their praise to your staff. We guarantee that will put a smile on your tutors’ faces!
A Safe, Supportive Environment
While fun activities or gifts can give a temporary boost to morale, we’ve found the most sustainable way to make your tutors and staff happy is to practice and preach a safe and supportive environment. Although you may not have a lot of influence over tutor pay or other policies, it’s still important to listen to your staff, both individually and in group settings, about what would make them feel supported, and include them in division and center goal planning when possible.
Safety, of course, takes on a new meaning in these times, and it’s important to show your staff and tutors that you take their health and safety seriously. For example, the center manager who was previously hosting ice cream sundae and hot chocolate events now plan to rely more on the safety practices of the catering company at her school before planning any more events, now that on-campus activities are expected to resume. They may have best practices for food preparation and social distancing guidelines or capacity policies that are comprehensive and will help make these events both fun and safe.
There’s a lot you can do to make your staff and tutors feel appreciated! While fun activities or gifts can be one strategy, we recommend balancing that with meaningful, clear attempts to listen to their needs and goals and work on making your center a place that is not only fulfilling and interesting to work at, but which is known among your current and prospective staff as a place where they can grow professionally and feel supported.