The Importance of Team Building

When employees hear the words ‘team-building activity’, many are more likely to respond with eye rolls than enthusiastic cheers. Unfortunately, team building doesn’t have the best reputation. But when done well, team building can boost productivity, morale and, ultimately, your business’s bottom line, making it a very worthwhile investment. This article will help you understand why team building is important and give you some ideas for how you can organise team-building activities that your employees will actually enjoy.

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How important is team building?

Here are six ways that team-building activities can benefit your business.

1. Increased productivity

Increasing productivity in the workplace is a top priority for employers. This is where team-building activities can help. Employees are put in situations in which they have to work together to achieve a common goal, but without the pressure of the work environment. They learn better ways of working together and often end up getting along better. Employees who get along and work well together are less stressed, perform better in their jobs and are more productive. When they suddenly have to deal with a heavy workload, they are able to cooperate more effectively to meet the challenge. For you, increased productivity means more revenue for your business.

2. More innovative ideas

Another positive consequence of employees working together more harmoniously is that they’ll be more comfortable bouncing ideas off each other, leading to more innovation. Team-building activities also inspire innovation by encouraging your team to rely on skills they might not normally use in their day-to-day work, such as problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking.

Plus, organising creativity-based activities sends a strong message to your employees about the importance and value you place on creativity and innovation.

3. Your employees will learn to trust each other

Another benefit is that your employees will learn that they can rely on each other. This is particularly useful for more experienced team members who perhaps lack faith in junior employees. When your employees trust each other, they will feel safe and will be more comfortable opening up with each about their strengths and weaknesses. They’ll find it easier to discuss and develop their ideas with their colleagues and be more prepared to take risks.

4. Better company culture

Better communication and collaboration translate directly into less conflict and a more positive, motivating workplace culture. Creating a workplace where people enjoy coming to work will help you attract and retain talent. Workplace culture is hugely important for employees. According to an Indeed survey, 46 percent of jobseekers said they chose not to apply for a position because they didn’t think it would be a good culture fit.

5. Better employee engagement and morale

Team-building activities allow your employees to connect with people from other departments of the company and learn more about the company values, which helps them to feel that they are part of something bigger than just a job. Regularly scheduled activities also build camaraderie and show your employees that you value and appreciate them. The result is employees who are more committed to your business and more enthusiastic about their work. In other words, higher levels of employee engagement. Other than the obvious benefits of happier employees, better employee engagement is also good for your bottom line. Statistics show that businesses with a more engaged workforce can earn up to 2.5 times more income than their competitors with less engaged employees.

6. Remote teams feel more connected

While many people appreciate the flexibility, working from home can be a lonely and isolating experience. Team-building initiatives can give remote workers a sense of togetherness, belonging and a boost to morale.

Team-building activities: some ideas

Team-building activities can be more effective if they are focused on particular goals – here are a few ideas to consider for your business.

Focus: team bonding and communication

  • Charity team-building activities. Volunteering together is great for team bonding, as well as your company’s image. You could arrange for your team to volunteer at a homeless shelter, clean up a beach or deliver presents to sick children in hospital. Whatever you choose to do, find something that will appeal to your employees and that aligns with your company values.
  • Office trivia. It’s easy to set up, cost-effective and will encourage people from different departments to interact with each other. You can prepare a list of questions about the company or a specific topic. Your employees then compete against each other in teams, answering the questions. As an alternative, get your employees involved by asking them to come up with the questions. Split them into small groups. Each group comes up with a list of questions and takes turns playing the role of quiz master.
  • Social outing. Getting your team out of the office and doing something that doesn’t feel like work allows them to bond with each other more naturally. Why not take your team to a music concert or a comedy show? Get ideas from your team and find out what they’re interested in.

Focus: creativity and problem-solving

  • Escape room. Escape rooms challenge your employees to work together and think outside the box. They will need to communicate with each other in teams to achieve the objective and escape from the room, using logic and creative thinking. Escape room venues can be found in most cities.
  • Plane crash: The scenario is that your whole team was in a plane that has crashed on a desert island. In teams, your employees must search the office for 12 items that they think would be most useful for their survival. They then need to rank the items in order of importance and explain their choices to the other teams. In addition to problem-solving, this game also helps to improve communication and negotiation skills.
  • Shark Tank: This activity is based on the reality TV show Shark Tank, where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors who decide whether they want to invest in the business venture. Split your employees into teams. They take turns playing the roles of entrepreneur and investor. They must come up with an imaginary product that they will pitch to the panel of investors. This is a fantastic way to foster unconventional thinking and build confidence.

Focus: remote teams

  • Virtual debate club. Bring your team together on your preferred videoconferencing platform for a virtual debate. Choose two speakers – the affirmative and the negative – who will present their arguments to their colleagues. They then vote for the most convincing debater. You can choose to have a group discussion on the topic afterwards. Virtual debates are a great way to build public speaking skills and confidence.
  • Online games: Thanks to the huge increase in remote working due to COVID-19, it’s easy to find team-building event organisers that host virtual team-building events. They offer online versions of popular team-building games such as escape rooms, trivia and murder mysteries. These will bring your remote teams together and foster better communication and teamwork.

Focus: 5-minute team-building activities

Team-building activities can be a lot of work to organise and can take up a significant chunk of time. But there are plenty of quick activities that you can easily incorporate into the busy workday. Here are three simple 5-minute team-building activities.

  • Blind drawing. Pair up your team members and have them sitting back to back. Give one person drawing materials and the other a picture. The person with the picture must describe it to the other person, who draws a picture from the description. But the catch is that the person describing cannot use any of the names of the objects in the picture. For example, they can’t say ‘Draw a horse in a field’. It’s a lot of fun and your employees learn important lessons about clear communication.
  • Swedish story. Nominate one storyteller and two to four ‘word givers’. The word givers think of a title for the story, and the storyteller must come up with a story based on the title. While the storyteller is telling the story, the word givers shout out random words that the storyteller must somehow weave into the story. This is a fantastic activity that combines teamwork and creativity and gets your employees thinking on their feet.
  • The gratitude test. This is a very simple but powerful exercise that fosters team bonding and builds psychological safety within your team. Gather your team in a circle and ask them a question such as, ‘On a scale of 1 to 5, how is everyone going today?’ Or, ‘What were your top 3 highlights for last week?’ Encourage them to share their answers with the group.

Tips for effective team building

  • If you do a particular team-building activity regularly, use diagnostic tools and assessments that can measure the team’s starting point and chart their progress. This will give them a greater sense of satisfaction, self-esteem and accomplishment.
  • Don’t wait until morale is already low to plan team-building activities. Plan some icebreaker activities when you recruit new employees so that people can get to know each other straight away. This will help to create a positive work environment.
  • Don’t force it. Encourage your team to participate, but you should also give them the choice to opt out. Employees who are uncomfortable participating in activities probably won’t benefit from the experience.
  • Survey your employees. To get your team more engaged in team building, ask them what kinds of activities they would like to start, stop or keep doing.

Hiring talented employees is certainly a big contributor to success. But once you’ve hired your team, it’s essential to make sure they work well together. A well-functioning team will not only boost your bottom line – it will also reduce workplace stress, reduce employee turnover and drive innovation.

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