Get inspiration from companies who have woven teamwork throughout every part of their workplace cultures.
We’re all familiar with the term “team player.” It’s an office buzzword, often heard thrown around corporate spaces and seen pasted into resumes or interview questions.
Don’t get us wrong, team players are fantastic—but in reality, creating a truly unified team takes much more than just hiring people who are willing to get along. A recent O.C. Tanner survey revealed that only 26% of employees feel their team works seamlessly together. If everyone’s hiring team players, why are we not seeing stronger teams?
Instead of pinning the blame on subpar employees, let’s instead examine the more systemic factors that prevent healthy teamwork. Factors like work hours, leadership, and company culture can affect even the most dedicated team player’s desire to contribute.
To understand how to improve teamwork in your workplace, let’s look at 6 companies that have created work environments where teams can connect, collaborate, and triumph.
A career in the foodservice industry can feel thankless—and when work feels thankless, teamwork suffers. This is why Taco Bell partnered with O.C. Tanner to create a better way to give their teams a heartfelt “thank you.” Through their new, personalized service-award program, their people are now celebrated for embodying the company’s core values.
Research shows that employees feel 121% more motivated to do their best work when recognition is tied to their organization’s purpose. You can follow Taco Bell’s example by creating strong company values and basing unique recognition celebrations around them—then watch as your team unites over a common goal.
Many businesses, international or otherwise, are moving toward a more virtual workspace. As a leading computer-technology company, Dell took a giant step toward the future of teamwork with their Connected Workplace program. This system gives their team members the ability to work when and where they want—while still keeping as connected as if they were in the same office.
Many business owners worry about letting their people work off-site, concerned that team bonds can’t be formed without face-to-face interaction. But if you implement a system that cultivates a thriving online work culture, your people can still feel a strong sense of comradery and connection—whether five feet away or five million.
Adobe is all about creativity—and they know micromanaging is the death of it. Rather than monitor their people’s every move, Adobe managers instead use their leadership skills to mentor their teams. This creates a strong sense of individual autonomy—which gives team members the freedom to work in more innovative, creative ways.
Giving your people freedom can go a long way to improving your team’s overall performance. Research shows employees who have a high sense of autonomy are 2 to 3 times more likely to be engaged than those with lower autonomy. You can give your people more autonomy by providing the resources they need to do their work and the freedom to do it their own way.
As one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies, PepsiCo is also leading the way toward a more inclusive, diverse workspace. For decades, they have been committed to hiring capable people of all races, religions, genders, orientations, and backgrounds.
An O.C. Tanner poll revealed that when an organization’s culture is inclusive, employees are 68% more likely to take time to get to know colleagues personally—and when coworkers get to know each other personally, they feel more inspired to work toward their team’s success. To follow PepsiCo’s lead, you don’t need to meet a strict diversity quota. Just be open to spreading your hiring net a little wider.
As a company grows, employers often lose focus on individual people. But Target still knows how to give each of their 350,000 employees a voice. They manage this by holding company-wide surveys where team members can give honest feedback and write in ideas. Each suggestion is then personally read and considered by the head of HR.
In many corporate settings, employees don’t feel safe making new or out-of-the-box suggestions. As a result, employers miss out on ideas that could revolutionize aspects of their company. To prevent this, develop a culture where your team members feel encouraged to share their honest opinions. The best way to do this is simply to ask for their ideas, then listen.
When leaders connect their people, there is a 156% increase in odds that employees will have a strong sense of wellbeing. Udacity realized this, and also realized one of the easiest ways to get people to connect: fun. This is why every week, they set aside both time and resources for special corporate team-building events, like Fancy Fridays or after-hours Recess.
Udacity knows how to treat their teams as people first, employees second. You can follow their example by giving team members opportunities to set aside work for a while and come together over something purely fun—like an impromptu office scavenger hunt or a Mario Kart tournament. This creates a culture of camaraderie rather than competition.
In the end, good teamwork usually comes down to two things: connection and engagement. Everything else—collaboration, work ethic, innovation—can be linked to those two elements. Your people need to be engaged in their work and connected to each other. Hiring team players is a great start, but it takes an enriching workplace culture to help them reach their greatest potential as a unified team.
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