A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other.
- Simon Sinek, writer and public speaker
Building genuine and lasting workplace relationships is beneficial in many ways - it leads to better teamwork, less conflict and more job satisfaction. After all, you spend most of your week at work, whether in a physical building or in a home office. Let us start with a little mental exercise to visualize it.
Would you like to work in a dispersed team where everyone works from home but is lonely, focused on tasks and has no opportunity to socialize and make small talk? Or would you rather appreciate a home office situation, where you feel part of the team despite the distance?
It turns out that this is more than possible - all it takes is a good approach by business leaders to socializing at work and creating the right environment and culture to foster those bonds.
In this issue, we will try to get to the bottom of effective socialization in the workplace and its true importance. Some practical socialization planning tips and ideas are included in the package!
The answer may seem obvious - spending time with other employees and deepening your relationships with them. Small conversations, coffee breaks, chats about teams; or on a larger scale beer meetings after work or company outings at the weekend. Actually, it's a bit more than that. It's not just about how workers spontaneously socialize or - once a year at a company party - but also about what management, in general, does to facilitate this.
Let us focus here on the employer's perspective and role. By this we mean measures or initiatives that the company takes to make employees feel comfortable, and happy to come to the office and support each other during work. This is not about a few perks or a company party once a year, but about continuous, regular activities such as weekly meetings, competitions, revitalising informal channels and caring for each other.
It's about effective communication, mutual understanding, collaboration and feeling like part of a team.
The quality of integration is of course highly influenced by the organisational culture.
Did you know over the course of a normal 50-year career, people currently spend around a quarter of their time at work? That is indeed quite a lot. It would make sense to look after the well-being and social aspect of this lifetime.
When friendships are cultivated at work, it has a positive effect on employee motivation. According to surveys by the National Business Research Institute, of the 30% of workers who report having a best friend at work, 56% are engaged, 33% are not engaged, and 11% are actively disengaged.
By contrast, the other 70% of employees who did not have a best friend at work were only 8% engaged, 63% not engaged, and 29% actively disengaged.
No one is an island. We need the company of others and honest workplace relationships to function, be satisfied and achieve better results. A high quality of employee socialization in the office or remotely has a positive impact on open internal communication, lowers absenteeism, boosts team spirit and generally warms up the company's image. You will feel more comfortable and motivated in a place where you can trust your teammates and not strangers.
See below for even more benefits of effective socialization in the workplace:
Obviously, you need a plan to carry out employee integration strategies that actually make sense in place of occasional Pizza Fridays or discounts. We are here to guide you and inspire as what to take into account when preparing to handle this aspect in a comprehensive, cross-channel way.
First, remember this and make your priorities an aspect of sound budgeting. You cannot suddenly spend too much money on company-sponsored weekly events or other expenses that do not bring employees together and are a waste of money. At the same time, it is important to explore what your employees want - the key is to organise forms of socialization and networking that are tailored to your staff’s needs and interests. It is worth asking the team how they would like to integrate - a bowling night may not be a good idea if no one is up for it.
Secondly, the regularity of integration is something that mustn't be taken lightly. It shouldn't just happen once a year, but should be a regular effort to keep teams together and give them the opportunity to interact with each other in an informal way - in weekly sports activities, coffee meetings during working hours, language challenges or celebrations of birthdays or important achievements.
But not all forms of integration are suitable for the size of the group. Therefore, remember to distinguish between larger company gatherings on overseas or holiday weekends and smaller gatherings of the teams that work most closely together.
Finally, integration is not only about going out, but also about organizing the office. Plan coworking areas, company gyms and chill rooms with board games, consoles or foosball in your building, depending on capacity. Even something like a stylishly furnished kitchen where you can have lunch together can go a long way in building strong relationships.
It's crucial to strike a balance between enjoyment and professionalism when socializing at work. Even if it can be difficult to manage, everything is possible with some forward planning and careful consideration. For both onsite and remote teams, here are our practical recommendations for streamlining your approach to coworkers socializing plans:
How about setting up table tennis in the office that can be used by different teams during breaks to reduce stress and strengthen relationships? It's quite simple and effective at the same time. Another suggestion is to regularly rent a hall to play football, basketball or any other sport that employees like. There is nothing more bonding than frequent and fun exercise mixed with a dash of healthy competition and endorphins. Be creative here - dance classes, calisthenics or Zumba?
The first step in this initiative is to carefully choose a theme that is close to the team's heart and will lift team spirit. There is no point in forcing people to commit to a cause or provide selfless help that does not concern or move them. Ask, analyse and tune into people's sincere desires. Do they want to get involved in cleaning up the local beach or forest that their kids frequently go to? Great! Or maybe another team wants to help walk dogs or care for the elderly? It's all about communication.
Now we are back to basics, but that does not mean they are not important. Board games, available at any time in the chillroom or canteen, are a sure excuse for playing together, integration and lots of fun situations. Other ideas are regular beer outings for integration outside the work context - this is also very important. You can also organise company competitions for the most interesting holiday photo, song, slogan or even an original recipe or dish.
Equally important for employee inclusion is participation in non-work-related workshops, such as sushi making, creative writing, photography or even sewing. All activities related to handicrafts, DIY or cooking are welcome here! Often staff have these skills themselves - let them shine, teach others and foster good relationships.
Clichéd as it may sound, weekly or daily phone calls - are essential when working with distributed teams. How are you supposed to feel part of a team when you are working on your tasks in an office chair in a comfortable room on the other side of the country? Coffee breaks where staff can make small talk, gossip and get to know each other build trust and quickly make the team feel comfortable. You can spice up these meetings by playing guessing games and sharing photos from the weekend.
Asking questions is the most natural thing in the world for each of us. Hence the idea of making daily work more interesting in instant messengers like Teams or Slack. An automated machine that sends funny questions every day in the form of a post in a shared channel can be a cool initiative to liven up the day and find out unusual things about colleagues - to chat with them about it later or joke about the story with the wrong plane to Ireland or the attempt to eat soap that looked like chocolate.
Here we have an engaging and effective proposal to integrate the team working in other cities every day. All this can be done regularly and without leaving home. And how? You can simply view the statistics of who is participating in gamification training challenges, leaderboards, task levelling or competitive networking. By awarding points and subsequent rewards for emailing and accepting friends, completing tasks or bringing forward new ideas, teams inevitably feel connected and motivated.
For many people, team-building sessions are awkward and a waste of time. However, if you manage socializing at work so that it supports initiatives that employees truly want to pursue and preserves professional balance; you should be good to go!
If you need help organizing social life and strengthening team bonding, we are here to help with gamification - a fun and innovative way to engage employees and make them want to come to work every day and feel connected to their colleagues. Wanna know more?
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