How important is Team Spirit in the Workplace?

December 22, 2016
by John Websell

No matter how large or small a company is, teams are vital to businesses these days, allowing them to maximise productivity and profitability when operated effectively. As such, it’s absolutely imperative for employers to nurture team spirit in the modern workplace.

That being said, employees should make the effort to connect with their team as much as possible as well. A genuine sense of camaraderie not only improves the morale and general mood of each individual member of staff but similarly helps them feel like an integral part of the organisation.

With that in mind, the purpose of ABRS’s post today is to detail the full range of benefits open to team-based firms, before providing practical advice for cultivating team spirit within a company.

The advantages

A united team’s greatest strength is undoubtedly the combination of skills present in collaborative environments. With a broader range of abilities and knowledge at the employer’s disposal, businesses can be more flexible, taking advantage of the greater number of opportunities open to them as a result. Close-knit teams are also better equipped to deal with individual shortcomings; for instance, if during the course of a project it emerges that a team member is lacking in a particular area, a strong bond makes it easy for the individual to simply defer to a colleague for support.

Likewise, working in a collaborative environment alongside trusted companions makes it easier for employees to discuss any ideas they might have for improving the firm’s operating practices, or even ask for assistance if they’re struggling personally or professionally.

Team spirit often produces a healthy dose of friendly competition; not in the sense that each individual is trying to outdo their colleagues, rather, as the group contribute to the overall success of the company, team members will work assiduously to avoid being seen as the weak link in the chain. Conversely, innate trust in a co-worker’s abilities enables one to concentrate fully on one’s own tasks and responsibilities, without fear of interruption.

Contented employees that are able to participate in traditional team building exercises tend to be less stressed than more isolated workers, resulting in increased productivity, and a tighter connection between individuals; understandably, these effects are amplified if regular social outings are arranged. In addition, office disputes will be easier to resolve when team members feel able to communicate their grievances with each other openly, especially when there’s a professional and personal association.

From a practical perspective, cohesive team units often correlate with low staff turnover rates, saving the business money in a number of ways. For starters, as these employees are much happier in their work, businesses are spared the hassle of replacing staff on a regular basis; often a costly and time-consuming process. Furthermore, with fewer new starters each year, the company can save money on training staff and reduce the impact such transitional periods tend to have on productivity.

Tips for improving team spirit

It can take a while to cultivate (depending on the makeup of the team) but, like any other skill, teamwork can be developed over time if both employer and employees commit to it completely.

Although managers are sometimes separated from the people they supervise – to a greater or lesser extent – it’s essential for senior staff members to actively promote team spirit. Helping to organise social events, resolve disputes, schedule training sessions, reward and praise successful teams etc. are all useful techniques diligent managers should consider when attempting to boost team spirit.

Instilling a culture of open communication is arguably the best way for managers to increase team spirit amongst their staff. As has already been discussed above, individuals who feel they’re able to put forth their own ideas and debate working practices will be happier and less likely to leave the company, but it’s important to note that communication is equally crucial to a firm’s productivity and efficiency. Teams and the individual members should know exactly what the company expects of them and the targets they’ve been set each month, whilst also having a clear indication where they fit into the wider organisation as a whole; a focused approach to operations is always more efficient. Moreover, keeping staff in the loop prior to any major business decisions (or even soliciting their opinion on such matters if necessary) helps to make them feel valued professionally.

When it comes to hiring new staff meanwhile, employers should always look for individuals who are proven team players; indeed, for team-orientated industries, this should be considered as critical as relevant practical skills.

However, before a collaborative culture can flourish, employees themselves have to make a concerted effort to foster it themselves. Individuals working in a team environment must accept that, to succeed, they must work in full collaboration with their colleagues; even if they’re not overly gregarious outside the office. Similarly, employees have to be aware their performance and attitude can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the team, thus they’re responsible for others, not just themselves.

Regular social events are helpful too. Everything from monthly dinners and days out to sporting activities and trips to the cinema can all lift team spirit, creating a relaxed atmosphere.

These are some of the key techniques worth incorporating into the cultural fabric of any company, but there are other things to bear in mind as well. For examples, employers should advise employees to refrain from office gossip to limit the chances of quarrels breaking out and encourage a positive attitude even in difficult times, whilst individual team members should endeavour to behave politely; in other words act like a team player.

Everyone’s different

No matter how much they want to be part of the team, some will always find it difficult to work collaboratively, whether that’s due to a lack of confidence, a clash of personalities, or simply that an individual prefers working alone.

Fortunately, most people – even those who’d describe themselves as shy – can succeed in a team environment given enough time, enjoying the benefits of a happier and more fulfilling working life.

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