by Deanna deBara, Contributor at Hourly
Your business is only as strong as your employees—so, if you want to build a strong business, you need to hire the right people.
But hiring high performers is just one part of the equation. Once you have top-notch employees on board, you need to bring them together—and transform them into the most productive, effective team possible. And the key to making that happen? Successful team building.
If you want your employees (and your business) to thrive, there’s no understating the importance of team building. But what, exactly, are the benefits of team building? How do team building activities encourage teamwork and transform individual co-workers into a strong team? And how can you incorporate team building into your company culture in a way that drives team performance—and takes your business to the next level in the process?
What Is Team Building?
First things first—before we dive into all things team building, let’s quickly cover what, exactly, team building is.
As mentioned, you can (and want to) hire team members who are effective and productive on an individual level. But if those employees can’t come together and figure out how to be just as effective and productive as a unit, they’ll never reach their full potential—and your business will suffer as a result.
Team building is the practice of bringing those employees together, fostering strong relationships, and transforming them into a cohesive team. Generally, this is accomplished through a variety of team building activities (which are usually social, fun activities like an escape room, scavenger hunts, or, in the case of virtual team building, a virtual game night), team building exercises (for example, helping your new team get to know each other through an icebreaker exercise), and team building events (like a team retreat).
Why Team Building? What Are the Benefits?
Now that you understand what team building is, let’s jump into the benefits of team building for your business.
Team building can benefit your business (and your teams!) in a variety of ways, including:
Team Building Drives More Effective Problem Solving
One of the biggest benefits of team building is that it leads to better, more effective problem solving.
When you put the time and energy into creating teams that work well together, they can solve problems more effectively than if each of those team members were working individually. Or, in other words, the sum is worth more than the parts.
For example, let’s say you’re bringing together 10 employees to form a new team—with the goal of solving a serious budget issue within your company. If you didn’t invest in team building, what you would have is 10 individuals using their own resources and problem solving skills to try to come up with a solution.
But if you did put the time and energy into effective team building (and had built up trust, familiarity, and camaraderie in the process of that team building), what you would have is 10 individuals working together to come up with a solution—collaborating, leveraging each other’s strengths, and pooling their resources to find the best solution.
Obviously, having 10 people working collaboratively, examining all angles of the issue, and figuring out how they can combine their unique talents, skills, and expertise to solve the problem is going to yield a better solution than 10 individuals trying to solve the problem on their own. So, in this situation, team building would enable a higher level of performance—and result in a better outcome.
Team Building Drives Performance
If you want to improve your business performance, you need your teams to perform at a high level—and team building is the way to empower that performance.
Think about it this way—if your teams don’t know or trust each other, working together is going to be a challenge. And if they can’t work together effectively, being productive, getting things done, and making progress towards common goals (not to mention company goals) is going to be a real challenge.
Because the purpose of team building is to bring teams together, through the process, employees get to know and understand their co-workers. They develop trust, understanding, and respect. They learn what makes their fellow team members tick, what strengths they bring to the table, and how they work best—all information that enables them to work better and more effectively together.
And when you have teams that know how to work well together? They’re able to get more done and get it done well—and performance, both at the team and organizational level, soars as a result.
Team Building Drives Employee Engagement
There are few things more important to your business than keeping employee engagement high. According to the Gallup State of the American Workplace Report, engaged employees are 17 percent more productive, have 41 percent lower absenteeism, and have 10 percent higher customer satisfaction metrics than their less engaged counterparts—and companies with engaged employees outperform competitors with less engaged teams by an incredible 202 percent.
Clearly, if you want your business to succeed, you need to keep employee engagement high. And one of the best ways to drive engagement? Team building.
When you invest in team building, your employees have the opportunity to not only get to know and understand their fellow team members, but also to understand how and where they fit within that team. This can make employees feel more a part of a team and more confident and secure in their roles—which, in turn, can make them feel more engaged with their work.
Team building can also drive employee motivation—which can, in turn, drive engagement. As teams grow stronger through team building, not only do they perform at a higher level, but because they feel more connected to their team members, they also enjoy the work more. And when employees are getting things done—and having a good time doing it? They feel excited to dive into their work.
Bottom line? Keeping employee engagement high is a must—and investing in team building sets up your teams to be more engaged with their work.
Team Building Fosters Better Communication
Clear, open communication is the foundation of high-performing teams. And if you want to foster effective communication within your team, team building is a great way to do it.
Consider team building activities a type of communication practice for your employees. During team building exercises—whether that’s an icebreaker game, a group activity (like bowling or team karaoke), or a more structured event (like a workshop)—employees have the opportunity to interact and communicate with their co-workers. They learn different team members’ communication styles, hone their communication skills, and get more comfortable talking with each other.
And once the team building activity is over? All those lessons learned make for more effective team communication when it really matters—for example, when developing new product ideas or navigating a project that connects your in-person and remote teams.
Team Building Helps Attract Top Talent
Investing in an effective team building strategy creates more cohesive, productive, and happier teams. And when your teams are working well together and getting things done—and feel happy and engaged throughout the process? You’re going to experience another benefit of team building within your organization—and that’s the ability to attract top talent.
Think about it this way—people want to feel happy and engaged at work, and they want to work in a positive, supportive work environment.
And because team building helps your organization check all those boxes, it can help you find those top performers, giving you a competitive edge in the market— and allowing you to continue using team building to build the strongest, most effective teams.
List of Team Building Activities
Ready to use team building to take your team—and your business—to the next level? Here are a few ideas for team building activities for inspiration:
- Icebreaker games. Icebreaker games—like Two Truths and a Lie—can be a great way for new teams to loosen up, have fun, and get to know each other.
- Volunteering. Having your team volunteer with a charitable organization is a great way to both build bonds within your team and provide support to the community.
- Trivia. Trivia games can be a fun team building activity, particularly if you’re managing a hybrid team, since it’s easy to pair remote employees with in-person employees to participate in the game and answer questions.
- Team talent shows. Your team is made up of people with unique talents. And a great way to bring your team together and form stronger relationships? Give them a chance to show off those talents! Talent shows give your employees an opportunity to show their authentic selves to their coworkers, which can build trust and rapport—and make for stronger teams.
Use Team Building to Build Stronger Teams — and a Stronger Business
Team building is an important investment in your employees, in your teams, and in your business as a whole. And now that you understand all the ways team building can benefit your organization, all that’s left to do? Get in the team spirit and use team building to improve your business.