Managers and employees alike are prone to viewing anything labeled “team building exercise” with skepticism.
The thing is, research shows a positive relationship between fun on the job and workplace engagement. One study even suggests team building results in improved outcomes across collaboration, communication, and processes — the trifecta, if you will.
Organizations of all sizes and types find value in investing in team building activities. The simple fact of it is, colleagues want to get to know each other and learn how to better collaborate.
This is especially true in remote and hybrid working models. When teams are distributed, fostering connection among teams is more important than ever.
Below, we’ll delve into why team-building should be a top priority for your organization, exploring how it can lead to greater creativity, better team collaboration, streamlined decision-making — and so much more.
1. Greater innovation and creativity
Team building is a natural boon for innovation and creative thinking among members of your team.
Many are familiar with the practice of brainstorming to solve problems in a group. These exercises work best when team members of all experience levels are allowed to share their ideas without the fear of criticism.
By building trust among the different members of a group, team building lights a spark for creative thinking. Team members are less afraid to propose outside-the-box ideas when they feel genuine camaraderie and have an understanding of those around them. By investing in team building, you encourage team members to feel comfortable and contribute more innovative ideas among their functional groups and throughout the organization.
2. More professional development and growth
Team building activities are often classified separately from seminars, training, and other activities specifically focused on upskilling employees on their hard and soft skills.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t have an impact on growth.
Team building gives employees the opportunity to interact with colleagues from across the organization. Creating space for the junior members on your team to mix it up with leadership allows them the opportunity to learn from the more experienced members of your team.
It also provides an opportunity for creative problem-solving and alignment on goals — something that can spur the growth and development of your team as a whole, as well as your individual team members.
3. Better employee retention and happiness
Retaining top talent is a challenge for organizations of all sizes. When employees aren’t happy, (obviously) they’re much likelier to jump at the opportunity to join a different organization. And given the high cost of hiring talent, businesses have incentives to make employees happy — beyond merely the desire to make work a good environment.
Team building activities are a tried-and-true way to increase employee morale, with socializing in the workplace being the catalyst for more than 50% improvement in communication patterns.
The key here is context and intent. No, a ping-pong table or kombucha on tap don’t substitute for an actual corporate culture. But, creating opportunities for genuine connection is a good start for team building.
Related: Try using virtual icebreakers to create quick moments of connection with your team.
4. Deeper organizational trust
Trust is at the core of most successful organizations. When teams intentionally build an environment based on trust, employees can more freely express their ideas — leading to more productive discussions and brainstorming.
But trust doesn’t just improve employee communication and productivity. A Harvard Business Review study found employees at high-trust organizations:
- Experience less stress
- Have more energy
- Call in sick less
- Avoid burnout
Team building fosters communication, collaboration, and empathy for your colleagues — all key components to establishing a framework of trust. And while it’s difficult for team leaders to set a KPI around trust building, it’s much more possible to dedicate time and resources to the sorts of activities — like team building — that encourage its growth.
This doesn’t mean your next team building activity should include trust falls in the breakroom. But, any activity that gets employees to organically trust their colleagues will yield a series of positive outcomes.
5. Improved communication
Communication is tantamount to success in project planning and execution.
Employees use communication to manage projects across stakeholders, ask for crucial context, and even express themselves among their colleagues. But, team building improves communication by strengthening the emotional ties between colleagues in contexts outside their day-to-day work.
Without communication, both company culture and business outcomes tend to suffer. By using team building as a form of positive intervention, you can help your team communicate effectively across the entire organization — including with members of different teams.
6. Streamlined decision-making
The way people spend their time at work is a function of decision-making.
Poor decisions lead to employees investing their valuable time in the wrong tasks or even failing to execute when required.
The best decisions come from informed, collaborative teammates. When team building allows for interactions across teams, employees can routinely make better — and faster — decisions on issues from idea prioritization to project execution.
Learn more: 9 frameworks for better team decision-making
7. Greater employee motivation
Top performers in any workplace often seem driven by a sense of intrinsic motivation.
But here’s the truth — people support what they help create. When leadership takes advantage of opportunities to bring teams together, they increase buy-in across the organization and inspire a sense of co-creation.
Employees who experience a genuine sense of camaraderie and buy-in tend to be more motivated — and motivated employees do their best work.
8. Better collaboration
Similar to communication, collaboration is essential for employees to do good work.
Modern productivity and project management tools have made it easy for teams to go through the motions of collaboration without coming physically together to share their best ideas or hold other teammates accountable — but it’s not only the platforms that enable collaboration; it's how you approach it.
Visual collaboration helps make communication more effective and clear, and can be optimized in both synchronous and asynchronous settings. You can also use it to help build team connection by creating a shared space for people to get together. For example, visual activities like showing where teams are located with Mural’s world map template offers team members a way to introduce themselves, where they live, or talk about travel plans.
Like other benefits on this list, team building makes it easier for teammates to collaborate by providing them with the interpersonal context needed to bring projects and tasks to the next level.
9. Healthier competition
The workplace can be a competitive place. This isn’t always a bad thing. When teammates hold each other accountable for excellent performance, standards of work rise. Teammates jostle for increased responsibilities and recognition, and the most qualified leaders rise to the top.
But sometimes, workplace competition isn’t productive. At a certain point, bickering over whose vision for a project is correct stops being beneficial. In other words, your team needs healthy outlets for low-stakes competition to take place.
Team building gives them that opportunity. Why let the only competition in your office be the same-old fantasy football league when you can try literally anything else?
From competitive trivia to baking contests, the possibilities are endless. Just be sure to organize events that are inclusive to all members of the office and allow good-natured bragging rights to be on the line. Your team will have fun, and teams that have fun do better work.
10. More dynamic leadership
Your best ideas won’t always come from the people at the top.
Team building activities are a permission slip for your team to get creative and innovate. But they’re also an opportunity for managers to recognize some of the emerging leaders on your team.
When someone steps up in the context of a team-building exercise to lead others, they’re showing their natural leadership abilities in an organic way. By creating well-designed activities and keeping track of the results over time, you begin to assess the leadership potential of some of the younger and less-experienced members of your team.
Team building is more important than ever
Team building matters for organizations because it promotes creativity, supports employee development, and boosts job satisfaction. When colleagues trust each other, they're more willing to share innovative ideas. Team-building also enhances communication, streamlines decision-making, and improves collaboration, which is crucial in today's remote work landscape. Neglect it at your own risk.
Mural’s suite of digital collaboration tools makes it easier than ever to create connection through team-building, conduct brainstorming sessions, and plan projects together. Get started by creating a free account today.