Employee Well-Being

Mayo Clinic is here to support employee well-being with engaging activities through the COVID-19 season. Explore this website for opportunities to support your social well-being, engage your families and friends in safe activities, and thrive (not just survive) during this time.

Jan 20 9:03am

Virtual Coffee Chats

By nicoleblock, @nicolerawlings
Positive social relationships in the workplace can boost mental and physical health and have positive, long-lasting effects on well-being. With the transition of staff to work from anywhere, it is crucial for supervisors and staff to retain social connection. You might no longer bump into colleagues in the break room, cafeteria, or in the hallway, and you may not be able to welcome new staff in person—so how will you still create a great employee experience?

Encouraging relationship-building and a sense of belonging with your staff create cohesion, opportunities for brainstorming, and meaningful conversation that can reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness while building trust and open communication among the team. Virtual coffee chats are one way to give staff permission to intentionally ‘bump’ into colleagues, desktop problem-solve, generate innovative ideas, and get work done.

The Basics

These chats are informal; there are typically no agendas or planned activities. They can be woven into working meetings or set up as a specific opportunity just to chat.

Collaborate with your Well-Being Champion

Share this idea with your well-being champion and ask if they are interested in partnering to implement this activity if the team is interested.

Brainstorm ideas of how coffee chats (or any other name your team creates) will be most beneficial for the team, and what virtual platforms would work.

    • Staff set up 1:1 meetings with each other.
    • Do a “walk and talk” by communicating on mobile devices instead of using a platform.
    • Schedule recurring time slots that are open for all team members to join if their schedules allow.
    • Allow and encourage dedicated time during team meetings for sharing and conversation (can be done before or after the meeting).
    • Create a list of optional themes or topics to get the conversation going:
      • Hobbies or pets
      • Favorite family traditions or rituals
      • Personal or professional development plans
Make it fun! Depending on the size of your team, create a BINGO board, and encourage everyone to get a ‘blackout’ (all spaces completed) during a time frame, e.g. 2-3 months.

Bring Ideas to the Team

Ask your well-being champion if they would be willing to present the brainstormed ideas to the team, allow them to give feedback, and add their own ideas.

Set ground rules. Occasionally there are unintended consequences from well-meaning and positive ideas. This is your opportunity to engage your staff to identify potential risks and how to avoid them. Things to consider:

    • Inclusion of all team members, gossiping, the privacy of conversations, and more.
    • Whether conversations can extend to colleagues that are a part of other departments.
Give permission verbally to your team to encourage this social time, and be specific regarding how often and how long these chats can be, or if it’s at their own discretion.

    • Your flexibility and trust in their judgment will go a long way in building your team’s trust in you
Follow up with staff after a month or two to ask how these conversations are going and if they find value in them. Keep what works and leave the rest.
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