Teamwork is essential to all businesses. I’ve found that moments outside the office are sometimes more powerful catalysts of teamwork than any of our workshops or lectures on teamwork.
A lot of bonding happens when we as a company just go out and have fun together. Every quarter we take all our employees (and sometimes their kids and our young daughters) to volunteer at some local charity. We play with orphans, do crafts, wash windows, shuck corn (no kidding!) —whatever needs to be done. Then we go out to eat, play games, and have a bunch of laughs.
During the summer of 2008, we took employees to both the Olympics and Paralympics—for some of them, this was their only visit to the Olympics; it was fulfilling to give them an opportunity that they might not have had otherwise. Another thing we do as a company is celebrate birthdays and Christmas together – complete with silly hats, cake, games, and carols.
Having fun together increases camaraderie when we “get back to work.” Having fun together also helps both the employee and employer to bond in ways that they wouldn’t normally—they see each other more as “regular” people. On these outings, we get to observe each other in more relaxed circumstances. We get to mingle with each other’s families, play with each other’s kids, laugh and tell stories.
If you can, try to schedule some social events during work hours – it shows your staff that you see these times as important to the running of the company, and that you value them. Requiring your staff to “have fun” after hours can feel like a burden, which is not conducive to bonding and building trust.
What about you? What have been positive experiences you’ve had outside the office, with your employees or employers?