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Updated May 01, 2024

What Team Building Is and How to Achieve It

Learn how to improve collaboration and strengthen your company culture by building a cohesive team.

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Sammi Caramela, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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Employees are a business’s most valuable asset. As a business owner, you should recognize your team’s importance, find ways to connect with employees and help them build and strengthen their bonds with each other. Team building can help you achieve these goals.

Team building is more than in-person group events. With the prevalence of remote work and hybrid teams, many organizations must implement creative team-building measures to address modern workforce structures. We’ll explain more about team building and how businesses can implement team-building strategies that improve the work environment and the bottom line. 

What is team building?

Team building includes “activities to help a group of people develop greater interpersonal skills and work together collaboratively,” explained Ashley Cox, founder of SproutHR. Team-building exercises are intended to strengthen bonds and improve communication and performance within a workplace.

“Effective team building needn’t cost loads of money and take place over a full weekend, although many companies do find this useful, especially if they have hundreds of employees,” added Frances Geoghegan, founder and managing director of Healing Holidays.

Team-building activities can include challenges like escape rooms or fundraisers, such as 5K runs — any effort to bring employees together without the stress of work and deadlines.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
Team building activities can improve workplace collaboration, communication, productivity and performance.

Ways to improve team-building efforts

Try these straightforward ways to improve your team-building methods.

1. Start team-building activities as soon as possible.

As soon as you hire employees, help them feel like a valued part of the team. Here are some tips: 

  • Plan icebreakers: Plan icebreaker activities to help everyone get to know each other immediately. 
  • Pair new hires with mentors: Consider finding mentors to work directly with new hires and help them feel a part of the team right away.
  • Announce the new employee: When you announce a new employee via email, share a little about their background and interests so your existing team can find common ground when they meet the new hire in person. 
  • Meet with new employees: Make time in your schedule to speak with new workers one-on-one. You’ll benefit from knowing and understanding your new team members while bridging the gap that often exists between new employees and leadership. “Take the new team member out to lunch or coffee early on and connect with them on a personal level,” advised Arvind Raichur, CEO and co-founder of MrOwl. “Take the time to find out about their interests and hobbies. Learning who employees are and what they care about is a crucial step some companies don’t take. It lets your employees know that you consider them a part of the team and that you’re invested in their success.”

2. Personalize your team-building efforts.

You likely have employees with vastly different personalities and interests. While every team-building activity can’t cater to each team member’s unique disposition, you can make an effort to personalize some events — especially for new employees. For example, a new hire might enjoy a company happy hour but cringe at the idea of participating in a raucous athletic event. 

Consider using science-based personality tests like the DiSC assessment to learn about each employee’s personality type so you can customize your team-building approach to play to individual strengths. Understanding team members will help you personalize your team-building experiences and understand each employee better. This knowledge will make you a better leader and help your team grow personally and professionally.

3. Use a combination of in-person and virtual team-building activities.

While in-person team-building activities are traditional, virtual team-building is growing in popularity. According to TeamBuilding, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a 2,500 percent increase in organizations investing in virtual team building. 

Help build camaraderie between remote, hybrid and in-office teams with virtual team-building activities like online trivia games, virtual icebreakers, remote show-and-tell sessions and more. Your employees will enjoy interacting in new ways, improving in-person and digital communications. 

TipTip
Use remote work tools like Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Teams to help your team feel more connected and engaged.

4. Build an open company culture to enhance team building.

Trust is crucial in team building. If your employees don’t feel you’re open and honest with them, they’ll likely avoid asking questions or voicing concerns. Transparency works both ways; as the leader, you must establish it from the start.

Raichur encourages employees to speak up and share ideas at company retreats and meetings. He is also transparent with his team about business goals and the intended direction of his brand. Ensuring open communication on both ends reduces tension, misunderstandings and anxiety among workers and increases respect and loyalty among your team.

5. Survey your employees about potential team-building activities.

Your team-building activities are only useful if your employees actively participate in them. Ensure you choose valuable team-building activities by surveying your employees. Ask what type of events they would like to start, stop or continue doing. Your activities may evolve over time as your team changes and grows.

Why is team building so important?

Building a cohesive team is crucial. Your employees are unique individuals whose talents, skills and contributions are valuable. Without them, you couldn’t accomplish nearly as many tasks or grow your client base as quickly. Focusing on team building can help you strengthen your organization, increase morale and improve employee retention.

Consider the following reasons team building is essential.

1. Team building facilitates collaboration.

Team building improves employer-employee relationships and strengthens bonds between co-workers — a crucial element of collaboration and teamwork.

“Team building is important because it helps the people on a team learn more about one another, appreciate similarities and differences, understand each other’s roles better and develop skills to work together more effectively,” Cox explained. “It makes working in a team more human and less machine-like.”

Like on a sports team, you want each member to get along and acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses so they can work together accordingly. Collaboration will be more seamless if everyone is comfortable with each other.

Did You Know?Did you know
Collaboration tools with video conferencing and online meeting capabilities can improve communication and teamwork in your business. Read our GoTo Connect review to learn about this platform's team messaging and one-click video conferencing tools.

2. Team building strengthens company culture.

Strategic team building can help create an inclusive company culture that feels welcoming and supportive. Imagine walking into a room filled with silent colleagues who keep to themselves and don’t give you the time of day. Now, imagine working with colleagues you also consider friends or acquaintances — people with whom you enjoy workplace lunches and casual conversations.

“It’s amazing how much of a positive impact a well-functioning team can have on the mood of an office,” Geoghegan noted. “If everything flows harmoniously, it helps to alleviate the stress and strain of everyone — from the employees carrying out the work to the managers who are responsible for them.” 

3. Team building increases employee engagement.

Raichur says team building has lasting positive effects on a business and can improve employee engagement, an essential part of every successful organization.

“Team building can help build morale, accelerate growth and increase retention,” Raichur explained. “Teamwork is important because it empowers team members to own their roles in working toward the same collective goals, regardless of department or level. By improving this team ethic, employees can feel a sense of importance and pride in what is accomplished as a unit.”

4. Team building improves productivity.

Team building fosters employee connectedness, which can boost productivity. Employees are often more productive when they feel connected to one another and the organization. Additionally, employees will feel more comfortable asking for help from their colleagues when needed instead of suffering in silence. This type of collaboration also improves performance.

FYIDid you know
A Gallup study found that employee isolation can reduce productivity by up to 21 percent.

Incorporating team building at work

Every business can benefit from team-building opportunities that help cultivate worker collaboration and connection. Various activities can help your employees bond and work better together, from meetings to events to games. Such initiatives will also improve productivity, engagement, collaboration and company culture, which can increase employee retention. 

Thankfully, team building does not require anything fancy. You don’t need to break the bank just to encourage teamwork among your workers. Gather everyone together — in person or virtually — and facilitate communication and bonding.

author image
Sammi Caramela, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
Sammi Caramela is a trusted business advisor whose work for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others centers around creating digestible but informative guidance on all things small business. Whether she's discussing cash flow management or intellectual property, work trends or employer branding, Caramela provides actionable tips designed for small business owners to take their entrepreneurship to the next level. Caramela, who also lends her expertise to the financial outlet 24/7 Wall St., has business management experience that allows her to provide personal insights on day-to-day operations and the working relationship between managers and independent contractors. Amidst all this, Caramela has found time to publish a young adult novel, develop a poetry collection and contribute short stories to various anthologies.
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