Every employer wants to build a winning team that excels in every aspect. While diligence, hard work, and focus are key assets to look for in your employees, if you’re interested in breeding your team for efficiency and productivity, studies suggest that you should let them talk more — even when it’s not work-related.
According to a study conducted by the London School of Economics, socializing with colleagues is the only thing proven to make you as happy as when you’re not at work. Additionally, Gallup discovered that having friends at work increases employees’ motivation and overall happiness at work. These employees have “significantly higher levels of healthy stress management, even though they experience the same levels of stress.”
Encouraging social interaction in the workplace, even outside the purposes of teamwork, has been found to positively improve employee morale and team spirit. “I’ve worked with business teams for years, and always encourage social time when possible, especially after difficult conversations. This builds trust and reciprocity and the opportunity to get to know each other as people rather than co-workers or belligerents,” says Lisa Sansom, an HR coach and founder of LVS Consulting.
In order to achieve productivity, good communication, and collaboration, team bonding is key. “Our view is that we will have better employee retention and overall more fun and excitement at work if we all like each other and enjoy each other’s company,” says Kevin Miller, Director of Growth at Open listings. “If we accomplish this, it leads to us really being able to form a tight-knit bond and it encourages employee buy-in when we are working towards super aggressive company goals, or are looking to have employees exemplify company values.”
So what are some good ways to bond?
“It is fairly easy for employers to provide opportunities to socialize – common lunch rooms, picnic tables, common spaces are all available to employees to chat and cross-pollinate ideas with others.” – Lisa Sansom, Founder of LVS Consulting
“The addition of weekly team lunches and/or happy hours has allowed everyone on our small team to have the opportunity to relax and get to know their coworkers outside of the conference room and Slack channels.” – Shana Haynie, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Vulpine Interactive
“Not everyone enjoys doing odd challenges or uncomfortable exercises. Your quieter team members will benefit from less intense, but more regular chances to build trust and open up. Clearly define the purpose of downtime together, such as lunch or Friday decompression time in the breakroom.” – Mike Goossen, CPACEO & Founder of Columns 4 Success
“Each month our team chooses a day when the whole team goes to one of our coworker’s home and we all work together from there. This is effective for group projects, meetings, brainstorming, and team building.” – Martin Konstantinov, HR and Operations Manager of PFG Bulgaria
“After years trying different activities to join our work team and grow our startup, we finally find the best option of all: a one-week retreat to the mountains every 6 months.” – Cristian Rennella, CO-CEO & CoFounder of elMejorTrato.com
“Our team does an off-site activity once a quarter, hosts a monthly happy hour, and celebrates each employee’s birthday. Get everyone’s bday down on a calendar and make sure there is a cupcake for each person when they get to work.” – Kevin Miller, Director of Growth at Openlistings.
“Team bonding in the workplace improves employee communication, motivation and productivity. There’s no better way to establish sound work relationships than introducing team bonding exercises, whether this is in the form of an activity day, a work lunch away from the office or after work drinks.” – Lucy Sherliker, HR manager at Enact.
“A mix of activities that are in small work groups are more comfortable for people who may be more introverted. Being appreciative of many personality equations go a long way in helping a teams to be more self aware, to grow, stretch, and bond more.” – Christine Mann, Owner and President of Mann Consulting, LLC
“Introducing simple teamwork building activities is the best way to improve team bonding, whether your budget is big or small. Team bonding enables staff to network and interact on a friendlier level and as a result, effectively helps your staff’s approach to working together.” – Steve Pritchard, HR Consultant for giffgaff
As a leader, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that your people are people at the end of the day, says Myles Nye of Wise Guys Events. “The desire to feel like you’re a valued part of a cohesive team is a fundamental human drive, and it doesn’t switch off just because you’re at the workplace.”
While many employers frown upon chatting in the workplace, leading with this mentality can be toxic to the well-being of your employees. According to Lynne Maureen Hurdle, a Communication Expert and Conflict Resolution Strategist Coach, teams that are ‘all work and no play’ “have more conflict and escalate it over small issues during times of high stress.”
Deregulating the workplace and adopting a humanistic approach in your company’s culture can help employees destress and become a closer-knit team. “Providing opportunities for employees to socialize inside or outside the workplace fosters a strong environment of engagement and teamwork,” says Robin Schwartz, a Professional Human Resources (PHR) Certified Professional at MFG Jobs.
However, you choose to embrace a more social workplace, an increase in employee engagement is sure to follow.