Most companies’ management understands the benefits of team building programs. As such, once or twice a year during annual meetings or sales blitzes they hire outside consultants (which is fine!) and send their employees off-site on scavenger hunts, to group cooking lessons or Lego challenges.
These are effective to break down communication barriers, push people outside their comfort zones and get people to work together to achieve individual and common goals.
But the work shouldn’t stop there. Oftentimes, once the teams return to the office and their regular work routines, the benefits achieved through the programs are quickly forgotten.
Well-rounded teambuilding efforts need to be ongoing and include employee input, feedback and rewards for maximum effectiveness. They should include both external outings and internal programs.
Here are some of the programs and policies we have implemented to build our award-winning team:
Are we all on the same page?
Crucial to having a productive, efficient team is making sure everyone understands the company’s core values and mission and overarching goals.
Part of this is knowing how the day-to-day activities, projects and client experiences work to meet these objectives and goals.
To that end, we have developed a structured system for communicating to ensure all important information is conveyed in the most time–efficient manner.
Every morning each department has a 10-minute huddle to review important projects, issues and even discuss what good things are happening.
As CEO, I have monthly meetings with department heads, and our leadership team has quarterly and monthly reviews. We have these on a strict schedule, and we stick to it.
Time is money. Our processes ensure everyone in the company is on the same page and no one’s time is wasted.
Let all voices be heard
We have unlimited PTO. You read that right. This was a direct result of input from our employees. As long as they can do their jobs well, there is no cap on the amount of PTO allowed (within reason of course).
We actively solicit input from employees for ideas on what they need from us to perform their jobs better and offer company paid for training and certification.
In addition to the ample PTO, other initiatives based on employee input are Wellness Wednesdays during which an employee leads an exercise or wellness class in our offices and offering healthier food options in our kitchen and vending machines.
Also, we understand that not all employees enjoy the same activities. Rowdy casino night fun for some may be too much for others. We let the employees decide what types of teambuilding and social activities we schedule and rewards we offer. A day at a Topgolf entertainment center and K-1 indoor go-kart racing are tops among our engineers.
Awards and rewards
When the company wins an award, we all win. We bring in cake and champagne and host a discussion about the award, why we thought (know!) we deserved it and what it means to us as a company as a whole.
We also publicly acknowledge our employees’ success every month. Everyone is encouraged to submit nominations for top employees based on performance. Whoever wins gets to spin the “prize wheel” to win gift cards and certificates, bonuses or days off.
It’s still good to get out of the office
Our annual holiday party is about more than food and beverages. Each year we come up with a fun theme, with related games and teambuilding exercises. Last year we all boarded a boat and participated in nautical-themed activities. We make it a full-scale production so attendees have fun, but also receive value from the program.
Our management team has quarterly meetings off-site and our all-staff annual meetings take place somewhere nature-oriented such as a lake house, or a park. Last year we went to Starved Rock State Park, Ill. People seem to be more open and candid when out of the normal work environment.
We also encourage and participate in group athletic activities such as races and the Illinois Tough Mudder. There is no hierarchy or barriers between exhausted people covered in mud.
I like feeding people and summertime is a great like to show off my grilling skills, so we host several barbeques in our sizable parking lot and even bring in ice cream trucks.
In summary, we balance educational programs, structured activities and social outings.
Effective teambuilding requires constant communication and processes for soliciting feedback. Teambuilding is not just fun and games, it’s serious work for serious success.