Team building activities are the double-edged sword of corporate culture. On one hand, managers love the chance to strengthen their teams, improve work atmosphere, and get everyone together behind a single purpose. On the other hand, employees tend to dread team building activities. We’ve all experienced icebreakers and team retreat days that were cheesy, pointless, awkward, or boring.
Despite all this, team building in the workplace is essential to growing a successful organization. No matter how you do it—through department-wide competitions, company retreats, or employee recognition programs—your company needs to be doing some kind of interpersonal connection outside the scope of daily work-related tasks.
Why? The long-term benefits are just that good.
Top 4 Long-Term Benefits of Team Building
Team building retreats have a few guaranteed effects. First, your office atmosphere will change. You’ll notice more laughter, conversations, and inside jokes being made at meetings and in the break room. Second, your managers will double down on goals and culture shifts in order to instill enthusiasm in their direct reports. And third, you can bet your bottom dollar that these changes will fade away within two weeks of your big push.
The reason we recommend team building activities (over retreats) so highly is because it creates more significant effects in the long term that aren’t so easily observed the day after your retreat. Here are the top four long-term outcomes you’re likely to see:
1. New friendships among colleagues
Is your office a place where employees come to work, make small talk, and go straight home when they clock out? A recent study by Comparably shows that, in some cities, only 36% of surveyed employees have a close friend at work. Team building activities help bridge the gap between this sterile work setting and one that’s more social. After your team building push, you might see new friendships forming across department lines, and you’ll notice more of your team members heading to lunch or happy hour together.
More importantly, these friendships mean that your workplace has started to fill a significant personal need for each individual. You’re creating an environment that meets the social and emotional needs of your employees—as well as their professional and financial needs. This makes your company a far more fulfilling place to stay for a long and happy career.
2. Better manager-employee relationships
Team building activities always feel a bit awkward at first—mainly because leadership staff and their team members are suddenly placed on even ground. After a company-wide field day or an evening at the ropes course, employees start seeing each other more as individuals and less as cogs in the corporate machine. As an employee, you might learn your manager’s favorite sports team or that they have a six-year-old daughter who’s a gymnast. As a manager, you might get to see firsthand how brave, strong, or hilarious that quiet team member really is.
Because of these interactions, you’ll notice that relationships between managers and their reports become more fluid, casual, and mutually beneficial. While team building won’t fix a lasting conflict or a serious case of poor leadership, it will definitely help ease interactions between team members at all levels of your organization. This leads to happier employees, happier managers, and higher trust on all accounts.
3. Alignment of company-wide goals
Goal-centric activities form the core of any team building activity. Whether that means drafting a new mission statement or setting key objectives for each department, you have the opportunity to garner support for established initiatives or choose new goals—and this practice has a huge long-term impact on the way your company operates. On an individual level, the 2018 Global Talent Trends survey identified “working with a purpose” as one of the most important and often-overlooked desires of employees today. Team building can fix that.
There’s so much to be said about leading a company that’s fully aligned with a clear purpose and a common goal. Say you’re in charge of team building for a major call center, and you’ve just done the work to get everyone aligned on a goal of “customer service first”. This helps you, your managers, and your employees make better decisions. It makes prioritizing and allocating resources much easier. It simplifies your metrics and takes the edge off of hard customer interactions. And overall, it frees up a surprising amount of time and space for you and your team members to optimize what you do best.
4. Improved employee engagement
Finally, team building in the workplace always has a significant impact on employee engagement (when done right). Your employees will be more motivated to cooperate with their managers’ directives because they’ve earned newfound respect for them as people. They’re inspired to work toward clear company goals, now that they’ve been fully explained and synthesized. They enjoy competing and collaborating with their new friends on the floor.
All of this helps your employees feel more supported, more motivated, and more engaged in their work. This effect translates into even bigger shifts on a company-wide scale. A recent employee engagement meta-analysis revealed that companies with higher employee engagement are over 20% more profitable than their competitors. If you’re aiming to be among that group of successful firms, team building is the first step in helping to grow a culture of respect, appreciation, and recognition in your company.
Team building has plenty of long-term benefits that make all the awkwardness (and the off-work time) well worth it. Overall, these activities create a mutual sense of respect among individuals at all levels of your company—and that respect fuels higher motivation, engagement, and revenue for your firm as a whole.
If you’re not into scheduling yearly picnics, employee incentive programs are a great way to infuse team building into daily life at your company. They reward and recognize employees for the hard work they do every day (which adds to your culture of respect), they help with setting individual and company goals, and they inspire your team to increase productivity levels in an indirect and far more motivating way.
At Inproma, we create fully customized employee rewards programs that increase engagement and motivate teams toward greater success. We’re passionate about helping companies like yours develop stronger teams, a happier culture, and better results. Interested in seeing what a custom recognition program can do for your company? Let’s talk.