Before I became a freelance writer, I worked at several different companies, most of which were small businesses. One of the more interesting parts of my job experiences was observing how each company attempted to build a stronger unit by focusing on team building activities. I say interesting because I viewed it from the perspective of an introvert - someone who doesn’t necessarily like forced social interactions as a whole.
credit: Patrick Giblin
Whenever your company is brainstorming about the different ways to help your employees feel less like individuals and more like a family, it’s important to consider the different personality types that you will be working with and what will make them the most comfortable. So from my own introverted-perspective, here are some of the activities that I have been a part of over the last 15 years and how they did (or did not) help me feel like I belonged to the team.
Regular Company Meeting
Almost every company has regular company meetings. In this case, I’m not talking about the regular “what’s what” meetings, but those big meetings where they get everyone together on a monthly / quarterly basis to talk about the overall direction and standing of the company.
The most successful company meeting plan I have seen thus far is a regular company lunch meeting. Everyone eats lunch (ok, most do) and of those people, most won’t argue about a free lunch. Order in something almost everyone can agree on - preferably places that have vegetarian / vegan / healthy options - and schedule a two hour meeting around lunch. It makes lots of boring company info a lot easier to digest, pun intended.
The best holiday parties I ever went to happened during usual business hours. The worst were the ones that happened on weekends when I already had about a gazillion other things to do to prep for the holiday season. I know it’s hard to imagine, but your employees have a life outside of work. Many employees spend 40+ hours a week with their coworkers. So during the 72 hours that they are not working or sleeping, they probably want to not be hanging out / partying with coworkers.
If you so choose to have your holiday party outside of working hours, please don’t make it mandatory. I.e., don’t give the employees that show up their bonuses and those that don’t just miss out.
This was by far one of the best investments a company could make - bringing in an instructor for weekly yoga classes. Everyone gets together (if they want to), no one has to talk, and the stress of the work week is reduced. This led to happier, healthier employees that all bonded over their shared love of yoga!
If your company hosts an annual conference, it makes sense to book a block of hotel rooms for everyone nearby the event. If some of those people want to voluntarily room together, that is one thing. But forcing people to room together is something quite different. Introverted people need some down time, and we can’t get it if we can’t even go back to our hotel room alone.
Is there anything worse than making people double up on rooms? There is, and I’ve experienced it. At one company, the owner rented a house for the employees to stay at during a conference. Hence, all of us shared a rental van to go to and from our house to the convention center. After the day was done, we would all eat together at the house. So there was no escape from anyone, except when it was time to sleep. It was a week and a half long nightmare!
Encouraging teamwork through community service is definitely an awesome way to build a bond between your employees and do the world some good at the same time. Even as an introvert, I enjoyed the occasional afternoon with coworkers at Habitat for Humanity or taking holiday presents to families in need.
Special Treatment to the Most Social Employees
Last, but not least, just because you value the socialness of your employees with each other doesn’t mean the most social employee should get special treatment. Just because they spend the most time around the water cooler or go to the most happy hour events doesn’t mean they are doing the best on the job. Reward your employees based on their work performance, not their social performance!
How does your company encourage camaraderie amongst employees?