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October 14, 2021


The 6 Best Teams Plugins for improving employee wellbeing


By Hazel Jeffs

If you saw our blog about the best Teams plugins for collaboration last month, you’ll already know we’re big fans of the add-ons for Microsoft Teams. Like many offices, SpiderGroup uses Teams as a real hub for all office communication, so it’s exciting to try out new ways to enhance the platform.

One focus for many of these integrations is employee wellbeing. Even before the global pandemic, awareness was rising about the importance of promoting effective mental health practices in working environments.

After many of us have spent the better part of the last two years living with unprecedented levels of anxiety and isolation, this is more important than ever.  A recent study by the CIPD found that over 80% of its respondents were “concerned” or “extremely concerned” about how the pandemic had affected their employees’ mental wellbeing.

 

Obviously, no Teams plugin can be a replacement for considerate leadership, an inclusive culture or a healthy workload. However, these integrations could be one piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating a happier, healthier workplace.

 Happybot

 

The ultimate aim of Happybot is to nurture happier teams in the workplace. It does this by quickly and anonymously gathering data from team members with a daily question concerning their current happiness and engagement. Team leaders can then use this information to make decisions about team building, morale boosting, communication, and more.

This is particularly useful where teams are so large that members may feel lost in the crowd, or where the existing dynamics make it intimidating for some employees to speak directly to management.

The plugin gives all employees a voice and encourages them to consider their own wellbeing daily within their teams. The data can also be useful to management as they discover how to lead their team and develop an effective employee wellbeing strategy. The responses are gathered into a dashboard which can help to monitor employee satisfaction over time, helping with retention.

The pricing is also bound to make your finance team happy - since the app’s completely free!

 Water cooler trivia

 

During the working-from-home period, many offices instigated a weekly quiz to bring employees together. It’s a fun way to kick off discussions and discover shared interests but it can involve a lot of additional admin for whoever volunteered to organise the thing.

Water Cooler Trivia removes all of the stress and organisation required to run a weekly trivia game, leaving only the fun. The app generates the questions, sends them out on Teams, reminds any regular participants who might have missed it, and marks the results. All you have to do is choose the categories and difficulty level and decide how long you want to give players to submit their answers (Anything from an hour to a week!).

The Teams app gives you the option to request specialist categories from the quiz writers and avoid regional-specific questions. Another fun feature is that it encourages further discussion in the chat, prompting participants to explain the story behind how they knew an answer and assigning points for funny submissions.

It’s important for employees to take a brain break from long work days, and Water Cooler Trivia encourages them to spend it building relationships with colleagues rather than doom-scrolling twitter.

This app does come with a price (£1 per participant per month) but there’s a month’s free trial to find out how your business takes to it before committing.

 Coffeepals

 

Another plugin designed to help team members stretch their social skills and avoid loneliness, Coffeepals links up employees for a weekly chat (coffee optional).

The app was first set up for remote workers to recreate the serendipity of break-room chats with colleagues you may not often cross paths with professionally. As more workers return to the office, it provides a chance to build valuable (and enjoyable) relationships across departments and seniority levels.

Each week, all signed-up members are randomly paired and sent a reminder to organise a time and place for a chat with their new pal. The app also provides a bank of water-cooler-esque discussion prompts to avoid those awkward silences.

This is a lovely plugin for building a friendly company culture and deepening connections. It’s free for small businesses with less than 25 employees but watch out if you’re a growing business as the price does jump to around £30 a month for larger organisations.

 NickNack

 

Nicknack was created with remote work in mind but can bring a lot of fun to in-person working too. The integration provides hundreds of challenges and activities to help employees to escape stress and connect with each other during break times.

You can work with co-workers to beat digital escape rooms, collaborate on art and videos, play games, or just vote on who is the most likely to ____ (fall asleep at work/buy a zoo/become famous).

It can be demoralising when most of your conversations with colleagues are purely transactional or surface level, so NickNack aims to bring more joy and culture to the workplace.  The number of activities on there could be a distraction during the workday, but properly regulated it has great potential for relationship building or taking the strain out of watercooler meetings.

 Accessibility Bot

 

More than 1 in 5 of UK residents have a disability. Others may not identify as disabled but still hugely benefit from certain accessibility tools – such as the ability to access video captions in a noisy environment or habit tracking apps.

 

Microsoft has worked hard on making its products and services more accessible in recent years, but it’s easy to miss out on all the different tools available. Accessibility Bot is a Teams Plugin which makes all these accessibility tools more… well, accessible.

The plugin is set up in a chat bot format. All you have to do is ask a question on what tools are available to help you with a task or restriction and the information and relevant links are right at your fingertips. No more time wasted searching the Microsoft website or user forums.

The free app still has a few niggly restrictions at the moment (Some common questions don’t yet have comprehensive answers). However, if your office has a Microsoft 365 subscription, having this app added to your Teams could help your employees more than you’ll ever know. It takes down one more barrier to everyone having the support they need to really fulfil their potential.  

 Breakthru

 

Movement breaks are vital in reducing mental strain, keeping your body healthy and generally giving you a moment to breathe… but they’re easy to miss during a high-pressure workday.

Breakthru is a plugin which gives you regular reminders to stand up and move throughout the day. It also provides a variety of guided movement videos- tailored to your mood- to take you through specific stretching and breathing exercises. These come with relaxing (If slightly psychedelic) images and music for a more immersive experience.

One fun feature to use in Teams is the ability to send an exercise to everyone in a particular meeting, giving all members a prompt to refresh their body and mind together. You can also set goals for particular teams to complete over time.  Giving employees some time for mindful activity can boost moods and relieve stress over time.

For up to 100 employees, the pricing starts at approximately £35 per user per year, although the app offers the first month free. 

 In Conclusion...

 

While Teams apps won't take care of employee wellbeing on their own, they can make a fun, effective addition to your existing wellbeing initiatives. Using plugins to extend a platform which is already embedded in your business increases useability and makes the new addition feel familiar from the start.

Whether they're supporting employee relationships, health or mental wellness practices, we think it's definitely worthwhile seeing if a Teams wellbeing app could help your workforce.

 

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