A sense of belonging within a team is good for business. Teamwork boosts employee engagement, and research has shown that organizations with highly engaged organizations generate 20 percent more revenue than do companies with a lack of engagement among the workforce.
Teamwork also decreases turnover, as 37 percent of employees credit “working with a great team” as their main motivation for sticking with a company. And InHerSight’s research has found that great, respectful coworkers are the number-one predictor of women’s overall job satisfaction.
Promoting teamwork is even more important for overall company achievement within organizations that naturally cultivate internal competition, which is good until it’s not, such as commission-based work or organizations with multiple workers performing the same role.
There are many “team building” activities that help promote teamwork in the workplace, but if your company’s employees could use a real, sustainable boost, try these six strategies that don’t include bowling or water balloons or anyone wearing a blindfold.
6 game plans to build teamwork in the workplace
1. Start a group chat
Sure, you talk to your coworkers all the time, probably about projects, deadlines, and clients, but how about setting up a non-work-related group chat?
Start a new Slack channel or GChat that’s for anything but work topics. The chat could consist of funny memes or casual conversation to help ease work stress and can also act as an easy “in” for new employees. Plus it makes for easy planning when it comes to outside work activities, like happy hour or a weekend BBQ.
Since 50 percent of positive changes in communication patterns in the workplace are linked to social interaction outside work, it’s worth a try!
2. Keep a schedule and let them shine
Hold a weekly meeting to keep employees engaged in the work and to create an overall sense of respect for one another, which is at the core of every effective team.
Highlight the work of a different employee each week or allow one team member to organize a half-hour training session on a topic of interest. A specialized training session helps the team learn more about their colleagues’ interests and expertise, and provides something fun and out of the ordinary everyone can be involved in. Employees can even gain a valuable skill!
3. Volunteer as a team
A recent survey found that 70 percent of workers in America believe volunteer opportunities are more likely to boost morale than are activities like happy hour—and volunteering together is a more inclusive alternative to half-price cocktails.
Volunteering as a team is also a great way to work on collaboration skills: have the team come to a consensus on what organization to support, a specific event to help with, and a time that will work for everyone. Plus, it acts as a great chance to socialize outside of the office, even try carpooling there and back.
Remember to be considerate of your team’s time and schedule the volunteer work during regular work hours.
4. Switch it up
Everyone could use a change now and then, and within the workplace it can do more than just get you out of that mundane routine, it can give your team a better appreciation for each other and promote teamwork in the workplace.
Elevate a lower-ranking employee to lead a client presentation and give the regular presenter a larger role in developing the overall project strategy. Or designate your marketing guru to jump on a client call with your account manager to answer questions. Mixing up roles and having your team support each other in new ways, even for just a short period of time, helps develop a deeper appreciation for colleagues’ daily work and broadens the team’s skill sets.
5. Try a change of scenery
Try changing your location for a fresh outlook. Rearrange desks, ask the team to collaborate on choosing new office artwork, or take the whole team to a new location, like the coffee shop that just opened up close by, for a meeting once a month.
The next time you need to have a planning meeting or extensive work session, organize an off-site meeting for your team. Rent a private meeting room in a restaurant or a hotel and give your employees the chance to work in a new spot.
6. Discourage individual competition, promote team goals
Some companies naturally foster a sense of competition among team members due to the nature of their work. While a little friendly competition helps with motivation in the workplace, too much can breed resentment and stress.
To avoid this, clearly establish a team goal and assign a reward. For example, if the team collectively reaches a $500,000 goal in sales for the month, everyone receives an extra 5 percent on their next paycheck next month or an extra day of PTO.
Meet with each employee to discuss individual progress and encourage competition with his/her own past performance, so members of the team are competing with themselves, not their coworkers.