We’ve all sat and thought about how we can give the work atmosphere a boost, but other than uncomfortable pizza parties and awkward team building exercises, can anything be done to build up genuine connections and dynamic working relationships for your team? With 22% of UK professionals saying they feel pressured into socialising with co-workers, clearly there is work to be done to help bridge the gap between dreading colleague small-talk and actually relishing a workplace chat.
With the workplace norm becoming a hybrid model for so many companies, building up that social aspect of the office can be even more of a challenge. Let’s explore some ideas for improving company culture.
Building up the bond
As the workplace relationship is ultimately a professional one, maintaining a cohesive team is important. Having someone to feel comfortable discussing work dilemmas and project queries with can help employees with work, while building trust.
Hear us out, workplace activities can be a great starting point. Who wouldn’t want an extra 10-15 minute break in the day? For large corporate companies, it may be best to split into smaller groups for this, perhaps doing activities within departments. From office bingo with fun little prizes and foosball tables, to pub-style quizzes and sweepstakes, having a screen break within a group can help to create a more familiar environment. Not only this, microbreaks at work have been shown to reduce stress and help engagement, so it’s a win-win.
‘Team building’ – a phrase that provokes a shiver and memories of forced ‘fun’. But
teams coming together to problem solve and work on communication doesn’t have to be a groan-inducing slog. Marrying team building exercises with socials can bring some genuine enjoyment with it. For example, doing a themed escape room or murder mystery puzzle can have your team collaborating seamlessly while having fun – if you’re unsure of what would be a popular activity, there’s always surveys!
A key way to build a professional bond is to encourage peer to peer recognition, having employees acknowledge the work that others have done and congratulate on achievements. It may sound obvious saying that ‘well done’ is a must in the workplace, but on a day to day basis, how often do staff actually feel seen for what they have achieved? Everyone needs motivation to keep themselves going, and many of us value encouragement from peers and people on our own level as much as superiors.
Communication is key
This leads to the next point: Communication. A team can’t function properly without it. Promoting an understanding, compassionate, and personable environment is the best way to have a team that gels. And what better way than to lead by example?
Encourage asking for help – we’ve all been new to a job or project and been left scratching our heads and biting our tongues feeling like we have a stupid question. And this is when errors are made! Being able to ask a question and receive a direct answer with no judgement can solve the problem and ease any anxieties in the workplace.
Patience is crucial, and when some people may be having more difficulty in grasping ideas or tasks than others, receiving tolerant guidance can make a huge difference in the confidence of any employee. No one wants to be told off, and a heavy-handed approach can stress staff out.
When thinking of communicating, meetings may spring to mind. The image of a stiff-suited, formal gathering around a table may be what is conjured, but it doesn’t have to be this strict. Meetings could be a 15-minute weekly catch up to see what the team is working on, giving an idea of how others may have specialties in certain areas that could help the team. And why not do this with a latte in a relaxed atmosphere?
Keeping it social
The dreaded obligatory Christmas meal. Being asked to join a pub trip but secretly just wanting to curl up in front of the TV. This is a common issue for people that don’t love their workplace. Having staff dos that people actually want to come to of course begins with staff liking the company of their colleagues, but listening can lead to much more successful outcomes for gatherings.
Something important to remember is to shift focus away from alcohol-based meet-ups, as not everyone drinks or wants to be in an environment that promotes drinking. Yes, the occasional pub quiz is a winning choice for many, but arranging activities outside of work should include things that are accessible and enjoyable for everyone. Whether it’s going to a comedy night, pottery painting, BBQs or bowling, there’s plenty to do outside of pubs and bars. What’s more, if your workplace is partially remote, this is a great opportunity to make up for lost social time in the office.
Trying to organise more frequent socials than just a summer party and holiday meal could surprise you with how many turn up. And once again, surveys are a must! Every workplace is different, so ask for suggestions and tally up the favourites to find out what your people enjoy.
Happy employees make a happy environment
At the end of the day, people who are happy within their job are more likely to project that happiness to others around them. Ensuring a healthy work/life balance and making sure that people are receiving sufficient benefits and resources for wellbeing, financial advice, and someone outside of HR to talk to are all important for employees to have access to. Less stressed, more comfortable employees are more likely to feel up to engaging in conversation, and as having positive interactions at work can help employees to feel more relaxed, it’s all cyclical!