I remember that when I joined LiveChat, we had about 30 employees working in a small, quite dingy house.
Every day, after coming to work, we did a small tournée around all rooms, saying “hi” to every group of people. We met in the kitchen during lunch and kept each other up to date with our projects and lives. We were not afraid to tell stupid jokes, goof around the house and paint stupid pictures on the walls.
Working was fun!
And believe me, the cheerful vibe we had in our workplace affected positively our work. Morale was high, communication was a breeze, we felt responsible for the results of our job, and felt we’re working as a one-goal team.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it is easier to solve problems, develop a product or create when you’re working in a small team.
I’m saying that it’s much easier to work on the same problem in a small team than in a corporate team. I know it because since I started working for LiveChat, we’ve changed our office to a new, fancy one, and our team has doubled.
In this post, I’m going to show you how easy it is to lose the team spirit, and what teamwork activities can help you to re-build it.
The benefits of team building
Team building translates into the most powerful business metric: employee engagement. The more engaged your employees are, the more they like what they do. It makes them more productive and creative!
But let’s see a couple of statistics. OfficeVibe made an infographic that presents quite horrifying statistics about employee disengagement. You better sit down!
- 70% of U.S. workers are not engaged (and their results are probably not breathtaking),
- Only 40% of employees know their company’s goals (so what are they working on?!),
- Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 Billion annually (employee turnover, every company’s worst nightmare),
- 75% of people leave their job because of their boss (you better learn how to be a good one).
But what if you keep your employees happy and satisfied? They will be 87% less likely to leave your company, and your company will make approximately 2.5x revenue!
Another important thing is employee disengagement is contagious (kind like a zombie plague).
If you see that your employees leave for frequent breaks, they don’t want to engage in new projects or learn new skills, they remain silent and avoid social situations at work, then you probably have a bunch of disengaged zombies in your office.
Here’s how we avoided it!
One day it became obvious that our old office was bursting at the seams. As our product grew, our team had to grow with it. The first step was finding a new office.
A year ago we moved to an old villa that was adapted for our needs. Everything was awesome: the design, space, the fact each team had its own personalized room.
But although we felt it was great, we missed the atmosphere we had in our old, tight office. We felt that we’re losing contact with the rest of our team and while we were constantly hiring new people, we came to the point that we couldn’t recall the name of a person that was hired a couple of weeks ago.
At the same time, new people weren’t aware how crazy LiveChat spirit used to be. They didn’t know the funny times before-the-new-office, and I guess they didn’t understand how different our company was from the others on the market.
It’s easy to get unmotivated in such environment, I tell you! Even I had the time when I felt that I’m tired of what I do and I’d be happier as a shepherd in New Zealand.
Hopefully, these times are gone for good, thanks to a couple of things our management decided to do. The below events I describe can give you a nice insight how easy it is to boost morale and make people happy at work (although sometimes it might be expensive).
1. Celebrate company’s achievements together
Every single person in your company has a different role and takes care of different tasks. They deal with different problems and work with different people. Lot’s of “different,” huh? That’s why it’s so important to remind your employees that you’re one team and you have the same goals.
That’s why every time you achieve one of your goals, you should make sure that every single person knows that it wouldn’t happen without them.
Do you know that 69% of U.S. employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated? Appreciation is the key to employee happiness and, again, productivity.
How does it work in LiveChat?
Well, a month ago we got our 20k customers. A huge achievement, considering that we worked very hard to get to that point. To reward us, our management decided to take us to a wine & spa resort for as called “workation.”
For four days, we had to deal with comfortable sun chairs, jacuzzi, spa treatments and delicious drinks. It was tough, but we made it. When we came back to the office, we were recharged, motivated, and ready to move mountains!
2. Make opportunities to spend time together
If you want to have a healthy team, team members have to like each other. And the more time they spend together, the more they like working together, it's not a secret.
It’s much easier to communicate openly or suggest solutions when you know the other person won’t judge you, right?
And the thing is that you don’t have to fund expensive dinners or fancy events to make the magic happen. You can encourage people to meet in pub, you can go bowling or have fun on laser tag. It’s not expensive, but it definitely is team-bonding!
But remember, spending time at work doesn’t count!
3. Don’t “shush” people
I used to work in companies where it was not allowed to talk. Seriously. My managers thought that people are 100% productive only when they work in 100% silence. So my colleagues and I worked in depressing quietness, waiting impatiently for a break, to let the steam out.
I’m not saying that your workplace should be as loud as a children playground, but the enforced silence can be unmotivating and disengaging.
Another thing is that when people know they are allowed to speak up loud, they are less afraid to say what’s on their minds. It might turn out that someone from support has a great marketing idea. It might also happen that a person from one team stops by to praise a colleague for the latest project!
You should encourage your employees to speak up whenever they think that it might bring value to the rest. But even when people share their personal experiences or even jokes, you should think twice before you ask them to be quiet!
For example, many managers would hate the fact that Martyna brings her dog to the office and we spend lots of time having fun with Balbina, but hey! It makes every day in the office much more awesome!
4. Encourage to share same passions
Do you know what your employees love? What are their passions? If not, you should definitely pay attention to what they love to do after work. It might turn out that they love the same things and you could do them together!
For example, if you ask me what’s the most common passion in my company, I’d say sports. We love hiking, bicycling and kayaking, but if you ask me what’s the company’s sport of choice, I’d say: jogging.
We take part in running marathons and it doesn’t matter where such event takes place. For a couple of years in the row we went to RunCzech half marathon in Prague, this year we were running in Berlin half marathon.
The team spirit is strong with these ones!
A great thing about sports is that everyone can do it. And even if someone doesn’t like running (like myself), there’s always room for fans!
But even if your team is not into sports, you can find something that will be important for you. For example, lots of companies engage in charity events, maybe this is something that you’d like? Regardless of your choice, the bottom line is to keep your team together, have fun together and build strong relationships.
5. Let people be themselves
Accepting people the way they are is in my opinion one of the most important things in a healthy workplace. A great team is a colorful combination of shapes and sizes, therefore you should never encourage your employees to behave the way that’s not natural for them.
I know that this one might be difficult in companies where dress code and as called “professional behaviour” is a must, but I am sure that it is possible to let it go a bit to make people feel more comfortable.
Acceptance leads to honesty, and laughter builds community!
Team building is a never ending mission
Team building is a great challenge.
It’s difficult to hire right people for the job, with the right mindset at the same time. It’s also difficult to build a healthy, friendly environment as it’s time-consuming, and expensive sometimes.
But if you think about the reasons why you should never give up in your efforts to build an awesome company culture, you will see that’s worth it.
Team spirit translates into motivation, engagement and productivity. People who like their company’s culture are more creative and open minded, more confident and communicate better!
And the greatest thing about team spirit is that although every company can face problems, with a little bit of effort and dedication you can turn a group of unmotivated zombies into a bunch of dedicated employees.
All you have to do is to remember about one magic word: “together”.