Quality communication in the workplace can prevent unnecessary issues and encourage better performance. It's crucial that leaders acknowledge the importance of strong communication and prioritize it above all else.
Work gets done more efficiently and effectively when there is clear, compelling communication within an organization, said Todd Kemp, ICF-credentialed executive coach, and principal and founder of NorthWise Group.
"In a high-trust, clear-communication environment, people can work at higher levels of performance because there is mental and emotional freedom to focus on tasks and engage warmly and collaboratively with colleagues," Kemp told Business News Daily. "They're not expending nearly as much time and energy managing their image, or worrying about troubling issues."
Fostering a collaborative team will make for more efficient, confident workers. Don't leave gaps to be filled with assumptions. Here are four fun ways to improve communication with your employees.
1. Plan outings
The workplace can be a stressful environment, so employees often appreciate some time away. Venturing into a different atmosphere, free from tasks and assigned roles, will help your team relax and open up in a more comfortable setting.
Ask your workers to a group lunch or one-on-one coffee meetings. Celebrate birthdays, company successes, promotions and more, so everyone feels appreciated and valued.
"I like to invite my team out to eat once a month, where we can catch up on life outside of work and really get to know each other," said Teddy Cheek, marketing and brand director for The Escape Game. "Additionally, as a spur-of-the-moment reward, I'll take an employee out to coffee or lunch. If they are doing a great job or just overcame a tough problem, it's nice to recognize that both with a verbal congratulations and something extra."
You can also try more adventurous outings with your employees, like rocking climbing or biking. Such activities are great for leadership development and will help stretch comfort zones, said Kemp. Individuals can practice their support for others while facing risks and confronting fear, a crucial part of both professional and personal growth.
Let your employees have a say in which team building exercises and excursions they'd like to participate in. Cheek uses a polling system by offering a few choices and allowing his employees to vote on their favorite. That way, they won't feel forced to participate in something that they have no interest in doing.
2. Employee happiness budget
Channeling the concept of "save it for a rainy day," managers should consider collecting funds for future team outings. Cheek sets aside an "employee happiness budget" for any time workers need a morale boost or break from routine.
"Having this money set aside makes it easier to constantly be improving your relationship with staff," said Cheek. "Since you're flexible with how and when you spend it, you can show in the moment that you care."
3. Games and competitive activities
There are plenty of team-building games and activities for employees. Cheek recommended an escape room concept like his company The Escape Game, which helps improve communication and work relations.
"Playing an escape room is a fun way to get out of your element, break down walls and see the strengths of other people in a new light," he said. "Your phones are all put away, so no emails, calls or texts will be distracting anyone – this is beneficial for both busy managers and employees who feel like they are always on call."
You can also participate in a casual sports game or match, from bowling to miniature golf, where workers can engage in healthy, fun competition, Cheek added. Reward winners with small incentives, like coffee gift cards, to express your gratitude.
Kemp offered another team building idea: improv, which allows individuals to think on their feet and collaborate with other members.
"It's a fun, experiential exercise that helps people realize what it means to listen to and partner with their colleagues, and create something new together that didn't previously exist," he said.
4. Themed days
Creating themed days can turn dull weeks exciting for workers. For example, Cheek celebrates Waffle Fridays, where workers bring their favorite toppings for the make-your-own waffle bar.
"We eat breakfast together, which starts our day off in a positive way and brings folks closer together," he said.
Sometimes, all it takes is a simple break from a hectic routine to connect not only as workers, but as human beings.