Lessons learnt on and off the pitch: Navigating Uncertainty and Improving Morale and Culture



Discover how GoTo, the Official Communications Partner of Sydney Football Club, played a part in helping the Club navigate change, cope with uncertainties, build resilience and strengthen trust within the team, enabled by technology.

The past three years have been unchartered territory for all of us. Everything we knew about working arrangements was thrown out of the window with COVID-19. Every organisation had to adapt to a new way of life, and there was no handbook, nor a one-size-fits-all approach we could adopt.

The uncertainty faced then, still continues to impact the way we work, as GoTo’s survey with One Poll found 56 per cent of Australian business leaders believe COVID has impacted the way employees now work and act. This was no different at Sydney FC who faced many new challenges on and off the pitch, especially as they were transitioning into their new stadium.

Sydney FC Men’s captain, Alex Wilkinson had this to say.

“It was a bit of a shock. We knew COVID was getting worse and worse and that it was starting to affect not only sport in general, but I guess the workforce around Australia. But we still didn't really expect the season to get suspended. So, when it did it was a bit of a shock, and we didn't really know what was going to come next.”


There was no time for anyone to prepare. COVID hit every Australian at the same time, and uncertainty loomed over everyone, from staff to business leaders and everyone in between. No one knew what would come next for their jobs, for the economy, and for the country.

“I got told at the same time the players did. The CEO came in and told us all together that the league was being suspended because of COVID, and obviously there was a lot of uncertainty of how long we were going to be not playing”.

- Steve Corica, Sydney FC coach

For all employees, morale took a hit, as jobs were disrupted, families disconnected, and plans discontinued. Isolation affected mental health across the nation, and everyone was individually affected.

“I found it very difficult. I didn't have a support network around me. I noticed my mood would fluctuate pretty drastically during lockdown and I definitely found it a lot harder than the initial one in 2020. So, 2021 was a lot harder.”

- Natalie Tobin, Sydney FC Women’s Defender

Ambition through transition

When navigating uncertainty, especially when it causes harsh economic conditions, it is crucial that organisations keep employees front of mind. Showing team members that they are valued, and appreciated will ensure unity through business challenges, and lead to greater motivation, morale and success.

Sydney FC demonstrated through the uncertainty of global events and moving into new stadiums, technology proved vital to improving the morale of players and staff. Through GoTo technology, they were able to stay connected with players and employees across phones and virtual meetings, helping maintain a strong club comradery and morale.

“It was important that we had a lot of meetings with the staff and players to keep things on track, but also one on one with the players to check in on their mental health”.

- Steve Corica, Sydney FC coach

On top of this, Sydney FC wanted to ensure they were addressing not just the organisation internally, but also reaching out to fans externally, and enabling them to connect back to the Club through multiple channels including their contact centre powered by GoTo.

“We launched a video series with one of our staff members hosting former players virtually and then streaming that online so fans could see what was going on, and listen to former players and hear about their current life experiences wherever they are in the world”.

- Adam Santo, Sydney FC CEO

Looking forward into 2023 and beyond, many business leaders fear that a recession is imminent. GoTo’s survey with One Poll found that 79% of Australian businesses believe a recession will occur within the next 6 months and 70% of Australian business leaders are nervous about the state of their business during a recession. Economic headwinds can create more stress on employees, as the anxiety of not being able to look after families and pay for bills dominates their daily thoughts. This stress can seep into the business and have a broader impact. In fact, GoTo and OnePoll’s recent survey found 50 per cent of Australian business leaders have noted their employees working or acting differently due to the impending financial storm.

Communication is key for organisations during these times. Being open and transparent, and making sure that the right strategies are in place helps employees know their role within the business and where they can contribute. The mental fitness of an employee can also be impacted by whether they feel able to air their concerns. With the right technology, employees can feel more connected and better resourced to perform at their best.


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