It’s almost impossible to find a business leader who doesn’t recognize the importance of teamwork. But even though workplace teamwork is often seen as an indicator of success, many companies still struggle with it. In this article, we describe 5 effective strategies to improve workplace teamwork and ultimately make employees more productive and the entire organization more profitable.
Why should you improve workplace teamwork?
Business leaders know that workplace teamwork matters, but it’s easy to underestimate just how much. According to a Fierce Inc. study, 86 percent of respondents blame lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. What’s more, a study done by Ernst & Young revealed that the lack of workplace teamwork is one of the top five reasons people quit their jobs.
Workplaces where good teamwork can’t be found sometimes feel downright hostile, and that’s not something millennials, the largest generation in the labor force at the moment, are willing to tolerate. In other words, companies that fail to improve workplace teamwork can’t expect to attract the best talent regardless of how much money they are willing to offer.
With companies taking on increasingly complex projects that require the collaboration of diverse teams with different backgrounds and talents, the importance of workplace teamwork is only growing larger. “Most employees desire a company name on their résumé that gives them a sense of pride,” writes Jeanne C. Meister in The 2020 Workplace.
The good news is that there are many proven strategies to improve workplace teamwork that don’t require much time, money, or effort to implement but are guaranteed to bring excellent results.
#1 Office space
It’s very difficult for collaboration in the workplace to thrive if the physical workplace itself doesn’t support it.
“Project rooms that teams can use for months, conference rooms equipped with the latest remote conferencing tools, and areas of benching, where people can do heads-down work but also easily confer with each other support the various needs people have when collaborating,”
– Herman Miller, an American office furniture manufacturer known for the Aeron chair.
However, there’s no cookie-cutter way of creating a more collaborative office space. Web app developers, as well as other IT professionals, need to concentrate on difficult problems for hours at a time, and open-plan work environments are known for causing developer productivity to suffer. On the other hand, product designers commonly solve problems by brainstorming, so open-plan environments are great for them.
#2 Team building
Most people who’ve been in the labor force for some time have their fair share of bad team building experiences. But just because various terrible team building activities (naked bathing with managers comes to mind) are often used by clueless managers as a quick fix for poor workplace teamwork doesn’t diminish the role team building can play when it comes to enhancing social relations and defining roles within teams.
Team building is a lot like dating: it can feel forced and awkward, or it can feel natural and fun. Because nobody wants to be pressured to go on a date, managers shouldn’t pressure employees to participate in compulsory team building activities. Instead, they should create an abundance of opportunities for teams to build in an organic fashion and reward collaboration as much as possible.
#3 Communication tools
Modern problems require modern solutions, and there’s no shortage of excellent communication tools that companies can adopt to improve workplace teamwork. Most employees are already familiar with Skype for Business, an instant messaging client used with Skype for Business Server or with Skype for Business Online, and Microsoft SharePoint, a web-based collaborative platform that integrates with Microsoft Office, but that’s just scratching the surface.
There’s also Slack, a cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services created in 2013 by the co-founder of the photo-sharing website Flickr, and there’s also Yammer, a freemium enterprise social networking service used for private communication within organizations. To simplify the file sharing process, teams can use cloud-based file storage applications like Dropbox or Google Drive, both of which make it possible to restore older versions of files and serve as an excellent protection against ransomware attacks.
“Individually, we are one drop; together, we are an ocean,” Japanese writer Ryunosuke Satoro succinctly explains how diversity can improve workplace teamwork. Saturo’s aphorism is even backed by science as a recent study revealed that workplace diversity positively correlates with employee happiness and job satisfaction.
“The results show that there are clear economic benefits from recognizing cultural diversity,” said Deloitte spokesperson Alec Bashinsky. “By being more inclusive and supporting workplace diversity, you can create an environment where innovation and a different way of thinking are brought to the table by employees with culturally diverse backgrounds.”
Good teamwork should be recognized and formally rewarded. One survey revealed that 70 percent of employees would feel better about themselves if their boss were more grateful, but 60 percent of employees believe that their superiors either never express gratitude at work or do so perhaps once a year.
Managers should be on a lookout for individuals who go above and beyond what’s expected from them to help their team and the company as a whole. They should thank them in front of everyone and perhaps immortalize their achievement in the company’s internal newsletter. Monetary rewards are also not out of the question, but they should be used sparingly and only for truly altruistic behavior.
Workplace teamwork occurs naturally where healthy workplace culture can be found. In this article, we’ve described five proven strategies to improve workplace teamwork, and we encourage all business leaders who would like their employees to be more productive and the entire organization more profitable to try them.