“Two heads are better than one.” “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’.” We’ve all heard the old adages encouraging teamwork. But teamwork does a lot more than simply foster productivity in the workplace. Whether you’re working at a startup, small business or larger brand, a tight-knit team – facilitated by employers – makes work more enjoyable, enhances communication and creativity, and builds trust in the workplace.
The joys of teamwork.
Employees are generally more emotionally positive and happier when they have the personal security of being part of a supportive team. You feel good when you get to know and socialize with your coworkers, right?
The spark of creativity.
An effective team can also increase creativity and innovation. When people of various backgrounds with a common goal come together, it often produces more innovative and practical solutions to problems than individuals. It’s the wisdom of crowds.
A sense of value.
Simply put, you feel better at work when you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself and like you belong. An effective team encourages a wider sense of ownership for the organization, both collectively and individually, making team members more responsible and enthusiastic.
What can employers do to foster this kind of teamwork?
1. Provide an open, collaborative workspace.
Cubicles and offices are dividers – instead, have everyone out in the open. Ensure employees and employers can see each other and talk to each other. Spark conversations and create sense of openness where everyone knows what’s going on, versus the impersonal kind of atmosphere where people work in their own silos.
2. Leverage your staff’s different backgrounds and strengths.
A strong team is like a puzzle: pieces of various sizes and structures coming together to form a larger picture. That’s why differences – whether they’re demographic or professional – are something to be celebrated in the workplace.
3. Organize social activities.
Teamwork is enhanced when workers get to know each other both professionally and personally. Build this sense of camaraderie among workers by organizing team activities, whether it’s Friday lunches, getting together for coffee, or even a weekend retreat.
4. Encourage idea-sharing and brainstorming.
Enable a culture of openness and give your employees a voice. Not only will this empower them and provide them with a sense of purpose and community, but you never know what innovative ideas may came out of it. Different backgrounds, remember? One employee may think of something that you haven’t thought of. (That’s why you hired them in the first place, right?)
5. Make every team member feel valued.
Involve all employees and team members by asking for their input and suggestions. Assign them with responsibility for specific goals or outcomes, and reward all members of the team for achieving them.
Overall, make your workplace fun. Encourage your employees to get to know each other– even crank up some music during any downtime! Inspire them to be open about their ideas, suggestions, and feedback. Ensure everyone has a voice and that they feel like they belong. Foster collaboration, support, and personal growth. Above all, employees want to have a sense of purpose. We all want to go to work and be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Samuel Dunsiger is a Toronto-based freelance writer and public relations professional with experience working with various brands, startups, and not-for-profit organizations. He frequently writes about occupational health and safety, education, employment, technology, entrepreneurism, and mental health. He has contributed to OHS Canada magazine, Jobpostings magazine, University Affairs, Techvibes, blogTO, CBC.ca and more. You can connect with him on Twitter at @samdunsiger.