Breaking down barriers: How to encourage teamwork and social networking
17 April 2019 / Employee Wellbeing Best Practices
Why can’t we all just get along? Every manager or HR leader will inevitably ask this question at some point in their career. Unfortunately, workplace social interactions aren’t always smooth sailing.
It’s easy to take a hands-off approach and hope things work themselves out over time. But the reality is employers should be taking an active role to encourage teamwork and positive social interactions among their employees. Here’s why:
The universal benefits of socialising
- Research shows even small increases in social bonds can boost employee productivity
- Only two in 10 employees have a best friend at work — but those who do are:
- Seven times more likely to be engaged
- More likely to be in a better mood
- 72 percent more satisfied with their job
- Research found 91 percent of employees who don’t socialise at work lacked engagement in their work
- Having close friends can be good for one’s health — having no close friends increases the risk of heart attack by 50 percent
Start breaking down workplace barriers
Want to increase productivity and employee engagement? Encourage your employees to network and build strong social bonds with their colleagues. Here’s how:
Try a personality assessment
Many workplace relationships become strained due to personality and communication differences, making it difficult for employees to work together effectively. In fact, 60 to 80 percent of organisational issues stem from strained employee relationships. Employees have to interact with each other every day, and personality tests can help teams better understand each other, communicate more effectively and perform together at a higher level.
- Schedule an afternoon for you and your team to take a personality assessment, like True Colours.
- The True Colors methodology differentiates four primary personality types — categorised by colour — and teaches people how to embrace the traits and differences of each type.
Get creative and support holistic wellbeing
Employers have so many opportunities to encourage teambuilding and social interactions while also improving the wellbeing of employees. Here are a few ideas:
- A wellbeing platform with social networking capabilities is a great place to start. Team-based corporate challenges improve social connections and create supportive, collaborative and fun cultures.
- Sponsor a sports team (or multiple) for employees that operates outside of work, like volleyball, soccer, softball, flag football or basketball. There’s nothing like team sports to bring employees closer together. The camaraderie built on the field or court will translate into the office.
- Work toward a universal goal with a charity drive or volunteer day. Employees can connect over a shared purpose and meet new people throughout the organisation.
- Does your city have an annual fun run? Offer to pay for an employee team to sign up. These events usually support a charity, and you’re encouraging your team to be active. Plus, when employees interact outside of the office, barriers are removed. They’ll usually attend with their significant others, kids and/or dogs, which opens the dialogue for colleagues to connect on a more personal level.
Prioritise diversity and inclusivity
Employers are responsible for creating workplace cultures of diversity and inclusivity — where employees feel accepted, appreciated and respected. It’s not only paramount for proper business practices, but also for breaking down barriers. Keep these things in mind:
- You can’t just hire a diverse talent pool and ignore inclusivity. Inclusivity keeps employees happy and productive, and less likely to leave. And diversity and inclusivity have to work together throughout all areas of a company. Your leadership team must be diverse and display inclusive leadership traits for a trickle-down effect to shift your culture.
- Make a point to acknowledge cultural and religious holidays and educate your employees of these dates. Consider offering diversity training, or celebrate different cultures with a week or month dedicated to diversity.
- Be cognisant and inclusive of different age groups in your organisation, especially your aging workforce. Will your older employees really find it fun to tackle an obstacle course at your next offsite work event?
- Ensure there’s a private nursing room — with a locking door — exclusively for nursing mothers. Click here for tips on creating a clean and inviting lactation room.
When employees have mutual respect and understanding for each other, it lays the foundation for better personal relationships. This benefits productivity, teamwork and overall culture. When in doubt, ask for employee feedback. They are your greatest resource for understanding how your culture is functioning, and how you can remove any barriers to build a stronger, more collaborative team.