Work is such a large part of our lives. By spending 40+ hours a week at work, some people see their coworkers as much as their significant others. So it comes as no surprise that company culture is important to 46% of job seekers (with 88% responding that it’s at least relatively important). If you’re going to spend so much time at work, it makes sense you’d want to enjoy being there.
Building team spirit is tricky to do effectively. On the one hand, giving people an opportunity to socialize and mingle can maintain worker happiness, but choosing a specific activity to bring them together can provide additional benefits beyond camaraderie.
Once the tax season hits, building team spirit becomes much more difficult to do. Dedicated time that is supposed to be a cool down can actually be more stressful as it takes away time that could be spent dealing with a mountain of tasks. This means you need to take the opportunity to build team spirit before it gets busy. If now is that opportunity for you or you see it on the horizon, here’s what you need to know to do it effectively.
How you benefit from team building activities
Beyond making people happy, team building activities can accomplish even more. They can develop new skills and instill a sense of confidence that carries into their workload. You might see some of these positive effects after your next team building event.
Choosing an activity that requires people to work together strengthens how they collaborate every day. The beauty of team-building exercises is that everyone is truly equal during the event meaning people can talk to their leaders in a more personal way.
Back in 2017, the Edelman Trust Barometer reported that 63% of employees don’t trust their leaders. You could try doing trust falls until seeing someone’s back is Pavlovian conditioning, but the more effective way to build trust is to work together effectively. By doing something where you need to work together to accomplish a task, you’ll reiterate that coworkers and leadership are collaborators you can depend on.
Broken down communication barriers
Whether it’s catching up after the weekend or discussing the how-to’s of a task, having open communication channels is a massive factor of building an effective team. A study from Harvard Business Review showed that the most successful teams have side conversations and take breaks to catch up together.
Having open communication channels is especially powerful when it involves people from all over the organization.
Simply put, people will do their best work when they have a personal investment in the well-being of their coworkers. When coworkers across departments are chatting, learning about each others’ lives, and finding common ground, they start getting personally invested in those they work with.
Having a team event that establishes those relationships and fosters learning about each other will help create a group that goes the extra mile for each other.
New soft skills in the workplace
There are two types of skills we bring into the workplace: hard skills and soft skills. You can think of hard skills as the requirements of the job like being a certified accountant or fluency in specific tools of the trade. Soft skills are the personality traits and abilities that apply to every job and even our personal lives. These are things like communication skills, time management, and adaptability.
Your team-building events can do wonders for developing soft skills. After doing something together, you might find someone bringing a new sense of confidence into the workplace or the ability to handle certain situations that were stressful before.
Try these team-building activities
Skip the trust falls, Rambo-inspired paintball matches, and other awful team-building exercises. With one of the following options, you’ll create inclusive, enjoyable, and effective team-building exercises that will have everyone entering the busy season supportive and energized.
What it is: Working together as a team to solve puzzles and riddles to escape a themed room.
Why it’s effective: What’s better to develop problem-solving skills than solving actual problems? In a low-stakes environment, your team will learn to work together to achieve a single goal. Escape rooms also pose different challenges that play to the strengths of different people giving everyone a chance to shine.
How to do it well: Break into small enough groups so that people can’t fall into the bystander effect. This will make people feel more separated than included and accomplish the exact opposite of bringing people together.
Lunch and learns
What it is: Setting time aside to have lunch together while someone presents on a topic of interest.
Why it’s effective: Lunch and learns are great for two reasons. The first is that it develops presentation and public speaking skills as anyone in the organization can step up and present on a topic. The second is that people learn unique things about each other as they get an opportunity to share their passions and maybe find some unexpected common ground with their coworkers.
How to do it well: Incentivize participation for both attendees and presenters. Ordering lunch for the team or providing a gift card to presenters can help make everyone feel included.
Team cooking class
What it is: Everybody doing the same recipe and (hopefully) having an edible treat by the end to taste test and enjoy.
Why it’s effective: Everyone cooks but not everyone is skilled at it. Those who are good at cooking can step up and support those who aren’t as talented (and show off a bit in the process). Cooking classes put people into situations where the purpose is to learn and support each other to develop confidence in themselves and their team. Not to mention they might be able to impress friends and family with a new dish to prep at home.
How to do it well: Avoid any competition or crowning the best cook. Competition pits people against each other rather than bringing them together. You might walk away from the event with rifts to mend rather than a closer team.
Avoid these team-building mistakes
If you want to make the most of a team-building exercise, you’ll need active participation and enthusiasm. To do that, avoid the following pitfalls:
- Having the event during personal time: If you book the event on the weekend or after work hours, your team will see it as working over time even if it is a fun event. Try to keep all team-building events within working hours to guarantee availability and excitement.
- Doing anything overly physical: To be inclusive of everyone in a workspace, avoid activities that require a certain amount of physical ability. Beyond both seen and unseen disabilities, one’s fitness can be a thing of insecurity and sharing that with the team can be incredibly stressful.
- Having people compete against each other: When there’s a winner and a loser, there’s always the chance that someone takes it personally. Being seen as the “loser” in front of a group is never a nice feeling. Instead, choose activities where you’re all focusing on the same goal—after all, that’s what work is all about.
Lastly, remember that doing this before the busy season is to protect people’s time. Taking time for team building is important, but not if it creates a stressful week from long to-do lists and deadlines.
You can create more time for team-building activities by reducing workload and to do that while still being able to grow your client base, try Botkeeper.
Especially with tax season on the horizon, it’s important to get started now to make sure all your clients’ books are in shape and up-to-date. Botkeeper offers an automated bookkeeping solution that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning pairs with the oversight of expert accountants to get your clients’ books done accurately, on time, every month.
Ready to make this the best tax season ever?