The American workplace has evolved significantly in the last few decades. Long gone are the days of solitary work in a dim cubicle with the only interaction with colleagues taking place at the coffee pot. Now, the name of the game is collaboration. And because of this shift, the ability to work in teams has become one of the most necessary and in-demand soft skills an employee can possess.
And it isn’t just the individual employees that benefit from gaining and honing their teamwork skills. Ripple effects can be seen across organizations who learn how to harness the power of healthy, productive teams; employee engagement increases, solid relationships are established, and retention rates increase. Most appealingly, all of these elements add up to dollars saved and higher profitability.
Employee engagement is oft-discussed topic in leadership circles; however, for all the talk, Gallup’s longitudinal study on employee engagement still shows that 70% of the American workforce is either actively disengaged or not engaged at work. The ramifications of a disengaged workforce are huge and are damaging to everyone from the individual employee to the economy at large. Most noticeably, though, they can wreak havoc on the productivity and profitability of an organization.
Luckily, one of the easiest ways to have an impact on engagement levels, beyond ensuring competent leadership, is to encourage healthy, collaborative working relationships. Many of the factors consistently correlated with engagement are tied to the relational aspects of work, such as “someone at work seems to care about me as a person”, “my fellow employees are committed to doing quality work”, and “I have a best friend at work”.
Healthier collaborative relationships and increased retention have the added benefit of impacting employee retention. As most business leaders are painfully aware, employee turnover is costly. Not only does it cost the company concretely in lost productivity, recruitment fees and time to hire and train a replacement (estimates place the cost anywhere from 40% to as much as 213% of an employee’s salary!), but so many other less obvious costs can be attributed as well, from decreased morale to lost institutional knowledge.
Employees who are engaged in their work are less likely to walk out the door. In Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workforce report, it was shown that the difference between the top quarter and bottom quarter of engaged workplaces surveyed saw a full 25% difference in retention rates. Similarly, Globoforce’s Employee Experience Index saw that companies that rated highly for positive employee experiences (as categorized by criteria such as belonging or feeling as part of a team) also scored more than 20 points less when asked about looking for new employment.
Fostering these deeply important relationships through team building not only ensures that you are engaging your workforce and retaining top talent but facilitating a collaborative work environment also increases productivity. Again and again, it has been proven that people work better in teams than they do individually. In fact, this dynamic is so strong that some industries have moved towards pairing workers together at a single workstation (such as pair programming in agile development).
Ensuring that employees are capable of working in a team environment and promulgating behaviors that maintain the health of these teams pays dividends for organizations hoping to stay innovative and relevant. Team building trainings are a great way to promote positive working relationships and amp up the productivity and output of any team.
-Casey Buchanan, Marketing & Market Research Manager