- Team building can improve employee engagement, collaboration, productivity and company culture.
- Employers should consider both in-person and virtual team-building activities.
- Team-building exercises should be tailored to each specific team, including their roles, interests and individual team cultures.
- This article is for business owners and managers looking to improve their team-building process.
Employees are a business’s most valuable asset. As a business owner, you should recognize their importance, find ways to connect with your team, and help them connect with each other. Team building is a great way to achieve this.
While you may automatically think of an event when you hear the phrase “team building,” the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in what team building entails. Many employees now work in a remote or hybrid environment, which means organizations must figure out a team-building strategy that works for all team members. This may include a combination of in-person and virtual team-building activities.
Learn why team building is so important and how to achieve it.
What is team building?
Team building includes “activities to help a group of people develop greater interpersonal skills and work together collaboratively,” said Ashley Cox, leadership development expert and founder of SproutHR. Team-building exercises are intended to strengthen bonds as well as 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.
These activities can include challenges such as escape rooms or fundraisers like 5K runs – any effort to bring workers together without the stress of work and deadlines.
Key takeaway: Team building is a series of activities designed to improve teamwork, communication and performance in the workplace.
Why is team building so important?
Without your team, you wouldn’t be able to accomplish nearly as many tasks or grow your client base as quickly. Don’t view your employees as replaceable; rather, learn more about their personalities, quirks and interests. This demonstrates that you care about them as people, not just workers, and will increase morale and improve employee retention.
It facilitates collaboration.
Not only will team building improve your employer-employee relationship, it will also strengthen bonds between your colleagues, which is vital to positive 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 told Business News Daily. “It makes working in a team more human and less machine-like.”
Just 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.
Tip: Looking for other ways to improve collaboration? Check out these 14 internal collaboration tools.
It strengthens company culture.
Strategic team building can help build 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 you can enjoy grabbing lunch or having a casual conversation with.
“It’s amazing how much of a positive impact a well-functioning team can have on the mood of an office,” Geoghegan said. “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.”
It increases employee engagement.
Arvind Raichur, CEO and co-founder of MrOwl, added that team building has lasting positive effects on a business. It can improve employee engagement, which is an essential part of every successful organization.
“Team building can help build morale, accelerate growth and increase retention,” Raichur said. “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 continuing to improve this team ethic, employees can feel a sense of importance and pride in what is accomplished as a unit.”
It improves productivity.
Team building fosters employee connectedness. When employees feel connected to one another and to your organization, they are often more productive. Additionally, employees will feel more comfortable asking for help from their colleagues when they need it, instead of suffering in silence. This type of collaboration improves not only productivity but also performance.
Did you know? A Gallup study found that employee isolation can reduce productivity by up to 21%.
Ways to improve team-building efforts
Try these simple ways to improve your team-building methods.
Start on the first day.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment to gather your team. As soon as you recruit new talent, plan icebreaker activities so everyone can get to know each other right away. You may want to find a mentor to work directly with the new hire as well.
Make time in your schedule to speak with the new worker one-on-one. Not only will it benefit you to understand your workers, but it will also help bridge the gap that often exists with new employees.
“Take the new team member out to lunch or coffee early on and connect with them on a personal level,” Raichur said. “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.”
Personalize your efforts.
Cater your team building approach to each employee’s personality type by using science-based personality tests like the DiSC assessment and playing to individual strengths. This will personalize your team-building experience and increase your understanding of every worker, making you a better leader and helping your team grow in the right direction – one that benefits each person.
Use a combination of in-person and virtual team-building activities.
While you may be used to relying on in-person team-building activities, virtual team building has become very popular. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a 2,500% increase in organizations investing in virtual team building, according to TeamBuilding. Whether your team works in the office, at home, or a hybrid of the two, a combination of in-person and virtual team-building activities is helpful. This gives your employees a variety of ways to interact, which can improve in-person and digital communications.
Build an open company culture.
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, and as the leader, you need to be the one to establish it from the start.
Raichur said that he encourages his employees to speak up and share ideas at company retreats and meetings. He also is transparent with his team about company 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.
Survey your employees.
Your team-building activities are only useful if your employees actively participate in them. Ensure you are choosing valuable team-building activities by surveying your employees. Ask what type of events they would like to start, stop or continue doing. The activities you do may evolve over time as your team changes and grows.
Skye Schooley contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.