Most company owners and managers know that their businesses are more productive when their employees work together as a team rather than focusing on individual achievement. It can, however, be difficult to make that happen, especially if you have recruited people from very different backgrounds in order to maximize the skills available to your company. Friendship and cooperation are not things that can be forced, but with the right approach you can encourage your workers to enjoy each other’s company and to appreciate the value of being a team member.
Encouraging employee cooperation begins with good communication. This includes top down communication, which is more effective when personalized, and lateral communication – employees talking to each other. Although you can’t make all your employees into good communicators, you can give them clear guidelines – with an anti-harassment policy you actually enforce – and the tools to communicate as a team even when they’re in different locations – such as a workplace intranet. You can also create social spaces in the office by doing things as simple as placing a comfy sofa beside the water cooler, and you can take a relaxed approach to employees taking time to chat. As long as they’re still getting their work done, you’re likely to gain rather than lose from this.
One effective way of getting employees to work well together is to invite them to cooperate in other areas. There are always charities looking for corporate partners, and volunteer work done as part of such a scheme can provide a great opportunity for workers to get to know each other. Because it’s something different, and because there’s the extra motivation of supporting a good cause, this often brings people closer together in a way that routine work doesn’t. Naturally it’s most effective if everyone in the company gets a say in which charity to support. You can select options for them to choose from after doing your research and establishing which charities can offer the best support. It can also be an opportunity for your workers to acquire new skills.
it might sound odd to encourage competition as a means of bringing people together, but as long as it’s in a spirit of fun it can be very effective. Avoid competition focused on meeting or exceeding work targets, which can cause stress and make other workers resent those who are at the top of the league table. Instead, encourage interaction by arranging sports activities for workers to take part in after work. By paying for some time at the bowling alley you can arrange an enjoyable social event for everyone.
People bond most effectively when they have fun together and share a sense of risk and achievement. There are lots of simple ways you can bring this into the workplace. You could buy each employee a lottery ticket and then share your dreams about being winners as you check the CA lottery winning numbers. You could work on team projects and enter national competitions together – for instance, some engineering companies participate in Battlebots. You can also introduce days when employees can bring their children to work so they get to show off their proudest achievements and everybody gets to share in entertaining the children and showing them what the job involves.
Office parties are a tricky thing to get right. Some people love them, some hate them, and employers are left wondering what to do for the best, but in fact there are a few simple rules that increase the odds of them being fun for everyone. First of all, such celebrations are most popular if held during work hours so that workers don’t feel obliged to give up other activities they had planned for their free time. Secondly, if you organize nights out, make sure they’re in venues that are accessible and friendly to everyone, and that any food available includes suitable options for those with allergies. Thirdly, provide some entertainment, even if it’s just a mix of tunes to suit different tastes, so that people don’t just stand there feeling awkward.
No matter what you do, some of your workers will always be more sociable than others – that’s just the way people are. Don’t try to push people to socialize if they’re uncomfortable; focus instead on creating opportunities. Some people will naturally take the lead in social situations but those who are quieter can still be good team players if allowed to find their niches. Your job is to ensure that everyone feels welcome within the team and motivated to participate. Do this well and the rest will fall into place by itself.