According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, 51% of American workers don’t feel engaged, meaning they’re basically indifferent about their jobs. That may not sound like a big deal, but disengaged workers are linked to higher absenteeism, lower productivity and lower morale.
They can make their coworkers miserable and even decrease customer satisfaction. The good news is that you can put listless employees on the right path simply by helping them make friends.
Here’s how team bonding can benefit your workforce, your own mental health and your company’s bottom line.
How does team bonding increase morale?
Employees who have a best friend at work report far better experiences in the workplace and tend to perform better too. They’re:
That’s just one-on-one bonding, but team bonding follows a similar trend. Team bonding exercises boost morale by strengthening important skills such as communication, trust and problem-solving.
Whether participants are trying to solve a puzzle or just chatting over bagged lunches during a group hike, there are opportunities to connect, form relationships and gain understanding beyond what’s shared in the office cubicles or via the comments section on Google Docs.
Why are happier employees more productive?
It’s not difficult to imagine that employees who feel good might be more inclined to work harder. If you stroll into the office feeling like you can conquer the world, that overflowing to-do box doesn’t stand a chance.
Now that rather anecdotal offering is getting scientific backup courtesy of research conducted by Oxford University's Saïd Business School in tandem with BT, a British telecoms company. Their study found that workers are 13% more productive when they’re happy. The telesales workers in the study not only made more calls per hour but also converted more prospects in the same period of time.
As for why this happens, we can look to science. There is some evidence that being happy can majorly benefit your health, including:
People who say they’re happy are also more likely to consume fresh fruits and vegetables and more likely to engage in regular physical activity. Because eating a balanced diet and exercising are both ways to increase happiness, it creates a cyclical effect — being happy makes you happy.
Now put it all together and you theoretically have someone who is a fairly positive person with less stress, less chance of getting sick and they experience less pain from acute and/or chronic conditions. It’s almost a given that an individual would be more productive.
Does low morale really decrease productivity?
When employees disengage, everybody in the room knows it. Those listless workers are the ones who show little interest in new projects and offer few if any ideas when it’s time to brainstorm for the next marketing scheme or product launch.
They show up every day, but that’s about the extent of their commitment. Disengaged employees cost companies a staggering $450 to $550 billion every year.
There are many reasons employees become disconnected. Morale can drop because management is failing to lead. Perhaps bonuses fell through or there are some supervisors who are heavy on the criticism and light on the compliments. Employees may feel like they’re treated differently or not given the same opportunities; feeling like you can’t move up the corporate ladder no matter what you do can be incredibly defeating.
Poor communication is often the root of low employee morale but so is a lack of connection. When workers feel isolated, they don’t feel motivated to work toward a common good because there is no sense of community.
Employees should be treated like individuals but encouraged to work as a team and value their coworkers for the differences, viewpoints and special skills they bring to the table. Otherwise, it’s far too easy to feel like there’s no point in working hard on a project that seems to have no real payoff. That’s when productivity drops and everyone suffers.
When you see signs of low morale such as a lack of cooperation, decreasing enthusiasm, increasing complaints, increase in conflict and growing absenteeism, evaluating leadership and investing in team bonding exercises can help. To get your business back on track, boost morale and increase productivity with KeepWOL’s talent development solution.