Employees who trust and listen to one another collaborate more effectively and work through problems. But if you try to force employee communication in a tense environment, it may have the opposite effect. To build strong relationships, employees need shared experiences that motivate them to show understanding and support for fellow team members. Improve employee communication and create opportunities to bond with these fun team-building activities.
1. Organize Creative Workshops
Corporate retreats have been the bane of employees for decades. While the idea of a "retreat" sounds relaxing, many employers use these functions to push company ideology without caring about the needs and concerns of the workforce. Being told how and what to think isn't uplifting for anyone, and it sends the message that genuine employee communication is unwelcome.
If you want people to open up, organize fun, hands-on workshops that encourage employees to rely on each other. For example, a team cooking challenge requires people to combine their skills and create something they can enjoy once the exercise is over. Physical challenges, such as human knot games, help to break the ice and make employees comfortable being vulnerable in front of teammates. Team-building activities don't have to relate to the job at all, and it's often easier to lighten the mood if employees are completely out of the work mindset.
2. Start a Community Newsletter
Showcase workers in a monthly newsletter that's dedicated to employee issues, not managerial announcements. Every month, you can ask an employee to come up with fun questions and interview people from another team. That way, employees have more incentive to leave their comfort zone and find out how different workgroups contribute to the company. Feature other stories about employee accomplishments, social causes, workplace ideas or hidden talents to bring your team closer together and make individual workers feel valued.
3. Host Themed Events
Giving people something positive and entertaining to talk about is one of the easiest ways to boost employee communication. Host themed days every week or month to spark conversation across teams. Whether it's a monthly costume day, an after-hours trivia night or a weekly breakfast bar, themed events let workers mingle and share interests in a social setting. Everyone gets a chance to shed their "work personality" and interact authentically.
4. Plan Competitions and Outings
Try getting out of the work environment from time to time to strengthen employee communication. Sometimes, your team just needs a change of location to mentally recharge. Why not go head to head in an escape room challenge, an obstacle course, a trampoline park or a mini bowling tournament? You can create a budget for outings and let employees vote on the top picks. For a more affordable option, organize casual sports activities at local parks and other public spaces. Outdoor activities are a great way to energize the team with friendly competition.
Employees are human beings, and they need to make real connections to build mutual trust and respect. Be a facilitator, not a babysitter. Arrange activities that let employees take initiative, show their strengths and make decisions as a team. Employee communication improves naturally when leaders prioritize team-building and give workers room to develop their own ideas. What clever strategies do you use to foster a team spirit?
Photo courtesy of COD Newsroom at Flickr.com
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