Team Building: Benefits and Best Practices

Growing a business takes more than just one person. You’ve likely hired a group of talented people and these employees are an essential part of what keeps your business going. We are so often focused on pleasing our customers and clients, we can forget about the happiness of our key support team. Are your employees as close-knit and productive as possible? When a group is put together to achieve a common goal, they don’t always immediately develop into a strong team right away. If your employees don’t seem to work well together or you want to reinvigorate your group, it might be time to facilitate some bonding and boost their motivation. Team-building exercises may seem silly to some but they can bring a lot of value for you and your employees. Your business can reap some serious rewards: 

Strengthen (or Repair) Employee Relationships
Even with a small group of employees, there may be a wide range of personalities and working styles. Use team-building as a way to break down barriers and let employees get to know the person behind the business role. If your team members have a good working relationship, they are more likely to share best practices and help each other succeed. 

Address a Particular Challenge in Your Business
If your business is having a challenge in a particular area, such as bad employee morale or the need for increased customer service, product knowledge or leadership skills, you can tailor your team-building activities to produce the desired result. Team-building activities can be used as a creative tool to get a message across to your employees in a memorable and non-threatening way. 

Increase Productivity
Aristotle’s famous statement that, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” is quite true in the workplace. When people work together as a team, they are able to accomplish more than if their individual efforts are added up together. Cooperation and collaboration are two essential ingredients to a successful business culture.

Open the Lines of Communication
Poor communication often can be the root of many workplace conflicts. Team-building activities can help improve listening and communication skills and help to break down barriers. Employees who do not work closely together can get the chance to interact and learn more about one another.

As a small business, you won’t want to waste a lot of time on ineffective games and fun if it isn’t going to contribute to the health of your business. To get the most out of your team building initiative, follow these six tips. 

Define Your Goals
You wouldn’t launch a new product or service without some planning and research, so think of team-building exercises in the same framework. Figure out what you want to get out of the activity so you can plan appropriately and focus on your objectives during the exercise. Time away from the workplace is often hard to manage, so make your team building as effective as possible. What lessons do you want your employees to learn? You are not just taking a break to socialize but coming up with a way to accomplish a real business challenge. 

Know Your Audience
Try to pick an activity that is inclusive for all your employees so everyone can participate. Some employees may enjoy an athletic activity but that could leave out others who don’t like sports or have physical challenges that may inhibit them. Team-building activities should be challenging to help employees do something outside of their normal routine, but they shouldn’t be something that could potentially leave out, embarrass or humiliate someone. 

Don’t Make it a Burden
Team building should occur during regular business hours so employees don’t have to sacrifice any personal time. Review the workload and consider revising deadlines or plan the event during the least busy time of day. You can always invest in temporary staff to help cover essential duties for a few hours so that everyone can participate. 

Help Your Business by Helping Others
Volunteering is always a great way to give back and bond with your fellow employees. The group can collaborate to choose an organization they would like to help and plan the volunteer efforts together. Employees may not have the time to volunteer as often as they would like so taking a break from the normal work routine to help out others can help your employees develop a strong camaraderie and feel good in the process. 

Follow up
Check-in long after the activity is over to see that the lessons learned are positively affecting the business. Did the team building have a lasting effect several months later? Find out what the most successful part of the experience was so you know what best motivates your employees in the future. If the activity was not as impactful as you would have hoped, collect feedback so you can tweak your efforts next time. 

Repeat your success
While a single event may bring positive results, it’s best to consistently plan team building into the culture of your organization to get the most lasting effects. Small efforts repeated over time can really snowball into big changes in your organization.

For more information on how Oasis, a Paychex® Company can assist your company with specific ways to develop a strong and cohesive team or in any area of Human Resources, contact Oasis at 866-AT-OASIS (866-286-2747) or visit us online at www.oasisadvantage.com.

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