Is Team Building the Secret to Improving Engagement?

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Feb 14, 2018

There are myriad factors that influence the productivity of any given organization. Employee engagement is one of the most crucial, thanks to its direct relationship to productivity. Organizational strategies and tactics implemented by progressive, productivity-minded HR executives can have a profound impact on engagement; one of the most effective of these methods is undoubtedly team building.

Research has shown, time and again, how employee engagement has a positive effect on organizational productivity; a typical illustrative example is how a 2015 study found instances where companies that increased their employee engagement by just 5% experienced revenue growth of 3% the following year. This clearly illustrates that higher levels of employee engagement, because of their positive influence on productivity, are to be pursued.

The primary driver behind that engagement is almost exclusively the purview of an organization’s human resources department. HR executives and directors, therefore, bear the lion’s share of responsibility when it comes to inculcating employee engagement levels efficiently and effectively. Yet this poses a problem – how can such a subjective measure of employee satisfaction – “engagement” – be improved when there are so many inherent challenges to quantifying such a variable?


For another perspective “4 Reasons Why Your Engagement Strategy Should Be Led By Managers


Despite its importancee, employee engagement can be difficult to measure, as translating human emotions into actionable data has always been difficult. Yet institutions such as APQC have categorized engagement as a combination of an employee’s loyalty to their organization, the commitment they have to their position, and their overall work ethic. The question then, is how to design and implement HR policies and strategies that increase commitment, work ethic, and organization of an organization’s employees. On a strategic level, this can be accomplished by establishing a strong focus on team building efforts.

Effective team building has specific, positive consequences for employees that have a direct influence on engagement. Events and activities that are purposely designed to reinforce the benefits of effective bilateral communication improve engagement levels. These exercises forge interpersonal connections between employees and studies show having friends at work produces positive results.

The role of HR leadership

This alone would make team building the most cost-effective method for driving engagement, but the evidence doesn’t stop there. A study from LinkedIn found that 46% of professionals found work friendships an integral part of their overall happiness, making it clear that nearly half of the global professional workforce is begging for working environments that are conducive to positive interpersonal interaction.

As a result, HR executives and directors need to be particularly cognizant of the most effective team building strategies and how they can be implemented across an organization. These implementations are most often the responsibility of specific teams of HR personnel, but these individuals need clearly established guidelines for selecting appropriate events and activities that will further the goal of driving higher levels of engagement.

Outsourcing team building

Some of the most effective types of guidance that HR leadership can provide are macro-level ones. One of the most crucial decisions to be made is whether to engage an outside firm to assist with team building. Outsourcing in this manner is often the most cost-effective option, as it alleviates pressure that would otherwise be placed on an existing HR staff to create and implement team building activities and scenarios. And it provides the kind of expertise not every organization has in-house.

There are, of course, challenges that present themselves when interacting with a third party. An outside organization lacks the intimate knowledge of a company that may be required to provide tailor-made team building activities that will have the most positive impact on an organization’s workers. This necessitates HR departments to work hand-in-glove with any outsourced training organization to ensure the best results.

A demonstrated commitment to communication and open exchange of ideas on the director level sets the tone for interactions between HR teams and training providers, emphasizing the same productivity-minded engagement that is the ultimate organizational goal behind team building in the first place.

It’s been made abundantly clear time and again how valuable employee engagement is to an organization’s overall productivity. Regularly-scheduled team building activities forge interpersonal ties between employees, which can increase employee engagement, sometimes by a significant margin. An organization’s HR leadership, therefore, must place a high priority on team building as an avenue to not just heighten overall employee engagement but organizational productivity as well.