by Shayne Thomas
08 May 2019
Team Building Isn't All Fun and Games
4 things to keep in mind as you organize team building activities to boost employee engagement and improve the employee experience
When you hear someone mention the words “team building,” the first things that perhaps come to mind are the occasional team lunch, fun (non-work-related) outings, and, in the worst case scenario, those potentially awkward, interactive activities that force you to open up and be a little more, let’s say “real,” with your fellow coworkers.
Whatever your thoughts on team building may be, it’s unquestionably an important part of the employee experience and, more often than not, a great way to boost overall employee engagement. Even more important at a time when the majority of the U.S. workforce (51%) is not engaged in their work whatsoever.
That’s why team building should be top-of-mind for all managers, of all levels, at all times; after all, building happy, productive, and successful teams is part of a manager’s job description. Carving out time for ongoing team building activities—from grabbing occasional post-work drinks to arranging larger, company-wide activities—must be a year-round priority. Now, if you still think that team building is just a bunch of fun and games—that delivers little value to your team’s dynamic, productivity, or general well-being—here are a few reasons why you should rethink your position on that:
Team building boosts employee engagement
In an ideal world, work should be fun and rewarding, regardless of the nature of the work. But that doesn’t just happen naturally; companies need to foster that kind of culture and work environment to avoid their employees from falling into a “clock in, clock out” rut. You don’t want employees to just come to work every day. You want them to show up with passion, purpose, presence, and a whole lot of energy. Not to mention, it’s been shown that highly engaged teams have the potential to drive 21% more profitability, 17% more productivity, 41% less absenteeism, and up to 59% less turnover.
Team building fosters bonding
Engaged teams not only build stronger relationships with each other but also with senior leaders and managers, which creates a much healthier overall work dynamic. In fact, team building can help break down communication and interpersonal barriers even further. This can open to door for collaborative or what some call “informal” learning, wherein employees essentially learn from each other to do their work more effectively. It’s even been said that up to 80% of workplace learning happens informally. This may also help explain why 75% of people who say they have a “best friend” at work feel more prepared to tackle new challenges. Just knowing someone’s there to support you–personally and professionally—can go a long way.
Team building is a lot more than a “company picnic”
Who doesn’t love the annual company picnic? Free food and drink. Fun games. Time away from the office. It sounds like an absolute dream, right? And while these much beloved company-wide activities technically fall into the realm of team building, the buck doesn’t stop there. There is a strong correlation between employee happiness and continuous learning. Helping your team not only do their jobs more effectively but also reach new goals and objectives is a big part of team building, too. And by no means is it one-size-fits-all; what works for one team might not work for another. That’s why it’s important for managers to think about what their teams need to succeed and then identify the kinds of team building activities that can drive those results—even if it forces teams to get pushed outside of their comfort zone.
Team building is not “one and done”
Let’s say it again: employee happiness and continuous learning go hand-in-hand. Team building activities are simply one of several ways managers can keep that continuous learning going. And if you think basking in the afterglow of a successful team building initiative is enough to keep your employees happy, think again. Use that as a launch pad to strengthen bonds, boost engagement, and create a happier work environment. Also, don’t shy away from “gamifying” the employee experience—creating friendly competitions and incentives that keep the team spirit alive and well—or regularly hosting work meetings outside of the office, during coffee breaks or the occasional team happy hour. Whatever you choose to do, just be sure that your approach to team building is never “one and done.”
With all this talk about team building, we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s given you a few ideas to chew on. If you're keyed-up and ready to learn more, try watching our in-depth webinar on how continuous feedback can help take employee engagement to the next level.