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Build a Strong Team by Encouraging Friendships

Friends at WorkYou often hear about the importance of the team in the workplace, but what exactly does this mean? It's more than simply arranging work groups. The concept of the team includes having your staff experience employee friendships, a sense of community and teamwork-oriented actions. And, it's more important now than ever before to encourage employee interaction. Just how important? Consider recent research on job satisfaction.

The latest report by the Conference Board showed that workers dislike their jobs more than ever reported in the last 20 years. This trend is especially apparent in younger workers, with less than 39% reporting that they are satisfied with their jobs. Overall, across age, race, income and location, the trend is apparent: most people are not happy at work. And, dissatisfied workers are difficult to retain, motivate and make productive. When it comes to employee job satisfaction, relationships can make all the difference in the world.

In fact, research by the Gallup Organization shows that job satisfaction goes up by 50% for workers who have good friends at work. That's because relationships are just as important at work as they are in personal life. In fact, they are often more important to workers than money. Gallup has shown that people would prefer to have a best friend at work over a 10% raise. Co-worker friendships encourage employee interaction, offer lighthearted moments and reduce stress. Gallup research also affirms that workers with friends on the job are more innovative, engaged, customer-service oriented and motivated than those without friends at work.

However, as important as friendships, community and teamwork are, managers rarely receive training on how to foster an environment that is friendly toward a workplace community. Instead, people who work in teams often struggle in an environment of competition. They must fight for their own needs instead of the needs of the team. To increase job satisfaction among your team, try implementing these teamwork-friendly tips.

Teamwork-Friendly Tips

  • Allow employees to chat for a few minutes each morning or afternoon.
  • Join in by making friends with your employees.
  • Use icebreakers to start group meetings if your team members don't know each other well.
  • Encourage hobby clubs facilitated by staff members to meet at lunch once a week.
  • Let employees know it's OK to have fun at work and joke around sometimes.
  • Ask each team member to share facts about themselves at staff meetings.
  • Offer to foot the bill for books, and start a weekly employee book club.
  • Create a mentorship program to encourage employees to invest in each others' successes.
  • Stress group accomplishments over individual ones.

When workers begin to become friends with each other, you'll find that teamwork is the natural result. With increased teamwork, your business will benefit from more engaged, productive and motivated workers. Check out next month's edition of e-Xchange to learn how to encourage work-life balance.

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