Mention the words “team building event” at your next staff meeting, and count the number of groans and eye rolls.
Team building has a bad rap. It’s long been associated with trust falls, kumbaya circles, and cheesy activities that companies feel obliged to plan, but that no one really wants to do.
At Dovetail, we’re obsessed with helping our clients build their company company culture. Team building events are just one piece of the culture development puzzle, but when they’re planned and executed properly, they can have a major impact.
Here are three of the ways that team building events can help you build your company culture. If you're not seeing these benefits, it's probably not worth your time.
1. Disconnect and Re-Prioritize
Disconnecting from work together puts team priorities before individual priorities, and increases employee engagement, profitability, and customer ratings, and reduces turnover.
Successful companies with healthy, high performance cultures know that when managers disconnect from their electronic devices and their own work to how that they value spending time with the team, it sets the tone for the entire company. When employees feel respected by their managers, their engagement levels increase by an average of 55%. (1) Hundreds of studies have shown that increased employee engagement leads to higher profitability, increased customer ratings, and reduced turnover. (2) If your team building event isn't providing you with an opportunity to put the team first, it's probably not worth doing. This sounds obvious, but some "team building" events are actually more like "team dividing" events that pit individual employees against one another.
2. Increase Innovation and Creativity:
Recognizing and highlighting employee’s unique skill set in fun activities outside of their regular work is empowering, motivating, and can drive innovation and creativity in the workplace.
When employees are faced with challenges and roadblocks in unfamiliar situations, they use their full range of skills and knowledge to develop creative and effective solutions. This type of entrepreneurial thinking can inspire a culture of motivated and passionate employees who are “resourceful enough to develop creative and effective solutions to problems and roadblocks on their own” (3)
3. Increase communication and collaboration:
Connecting employees from different divisions increases communication, and enables people to see the "big picture".
Employees who feel connected to colleagues and understand how different areas of the company work are more likely to make decisions that benefit the company as a whole, rather than solely their own department or themselves.
Team building is only a waste of time if you treat it like one. Healthy, high performance company culture is built when company leaders take time to disconnect from their work and meetings, show that they value their employees, learn about their unique skill sets and strengths, and authentically connect with, and foster connections among, their employees.
Schwartz, Tony. “What Is Your Quality of Life At Work?” (a survey of 19,000 people). Harvard Business Review. June 30, 2014).
Poath, Christine. “Why You Hate Work”. The New York Times. (May 30 2014).
Saltzman, Barry. “How To Make Your Workplace Fun, Productive, and Creative”. FastCompany, (April 10 2015) (quote from Colin McGuire, BizFit 2015).