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How Team Building Increases Employee Engagement

Improving employee engagement is always a productive move, but it’s crucial now more than ever. Here’s why, and how to accomplish that goal.

Highly engaged employees see their work as meaningful. They feel trusted and respected and often feel an emotional commitment to their organization. As a result, they are more productive, more consistently, which ultimately leads to a happier workplace attitude and higher profits for their employers.

That’s always been true. But with the structure of work changing in this post-pandemic environment, increasing employee engagement is both more vital and more challenging than before. Many employees are coming back to the office on a part-time basis, while others work remotely most or all of the time.

Maintaining engagement when employees are physically separated is difficult but essential to preserving that sense of connection and high productivity. Team building programs can be highly effective in sustaining and strengthening the bonds that keep employees highly engaged. Here’s what you need to know.

Team Building is Inherently Engaging

By their very nature, team building activities and initiatives incorporate certain essential pillars for engagement: communication, leadership, problem-solving, and establishing roles.

Whatever the specific program, the foundation is the same: bringing together a group of co-workers and presenting them with a challenge to solve or a project to complete. Out of necessity, the group must begin communicating, asking questions to understand the activity, goal, rules, and guidelines.

The team (or teams) then work together to achieve the objective. It’s fun, collaborative, and engaging. And when it’s over, this experience translates directly into positive workplace attitudes and behaviors.

Get a GRPI

GRPI stands for goals, roles, personalities, and interpersonal relations. This is a core component of effective team building. What are the goals the group must accomplish? What different roles will team members establish to complete the task? How will the different personalities in the group affect the roles chosen? And in terms of the interpersonal aspect, how are team members getting along? How effectively are they working together as a unit to complete the task?

Again, these are skills that employees will learn and hone as part of the team building program—and have fun doing it! And they will bring these new and enhanced skills back into the workplace with them, increasing their engagement with the organization.

Another benefit is that with many programs, the unique skills of certain employees come to light – skills needed in the position the employee fills in the company. Management often observes employees in team building exercises displaying abilities they didn’t know they possessed.

Create a New, Shared Experience

Team building increases engagement by encouraging communication, collaboration, and problem-solving in an activity the participants have never done before. It’s not basketball, or rock climbing, or bowling. The facilitator is introducing activities that are brand new to everyone in the room.

That puts all team members on equal footing, starting on a level playing field with the same information. Everyone starts with the same (limited) knowledge, so no one is “the boss,” and no one is shy about asking questions. As participants engage more in the activity, the facilitator acknowledges fruitful collaboration and recognizes individuals for solid communication.

Today’s team building activities are less physical than old-fashioned team building: “trust falls,” obstacle courses, boot camp. Now, team building is more cerebral.

These activities allow for full and active participation, regardless of the physical condition of any participant. Every team member, even someone with back problems, a sprained ankle, or mobility limitations, can take a full and active part in the team building because everyone has roles. That structure keeps all participants engaged.

Enhance Engagement by Showing What Matters

Employers are in the midst of the great resignation. There’s evidence that labor shortages will persist as companies compete for a shrinking pool of workers. Engagement is more critical than ever. How can companies retain their best employees and make new employees feel like part of the team, even if they aren’t physically in the office?

To maximize engagement, you need to make your employees feel that you care about them as individuals. Every employer offers a paycheck and benefits. What sets some employers apart in this competitive environment for talent is hosting social events for employees (live or virtual), giving back to the community, and team building activities.

Send employees (particularly those working remotely) little gift boxes with cheese, crackers, and beverages. Maybe an engraved wine glass or coffee mug. Conduct surveys to help increase engagement—report on the results. Announce what you’ll start doing, do differently, or do more of.

Show employees they are important by investing in team building activities: a scavenger hunt, a charitable event, a Trivia Game Show. All these types of actions show you care about each person beyond what they do to drive revenue for your company.

The payoff in engagement means you retain your best people, bring new people up to speed more quickly, and make all of your employees happier in their work and more consistently productive.