One of the things that makes a job enjoyable is getting along with your coworkers. If you go into the office every day and genuinely enjoy the people around you, you are more likely to perform well at the job and stick with it longer. But don’t take our word for it, there’s plenty of research to back it up.
One study found that businesses with highly engaged employees had 21% higher profits. In a Gallup poll, businesses with highly engaged employees also had 41% lower absenteeism. Finally, in a survey by Korn Ferry, they found that 1 in 3 professionals are considering leaving their jobs simply due to boredom.
The question then becomes, as a manager, how can you improve the interactions among your employees? Luckily, with a few simple strategies, you can make some significant improvements in this area. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Ice Breaker Activities
If you have a group of new employees, a great way to introduce them to one another is through ice breaker activities. Ice breakers are designed to help people relax and learn a little bit about the other members of the group. There are a ton of options so you should have no trouble finding something that works for your group.
For example, you could do something as simple as playing Desert Island. Get everyone together and take turns saying which 3 of your favorite things you would bring to a desert island. The categories could be favorite books, favorite movies, favorite foods, or anything else. It’s a simple game that introduces people’s interests and can get some conversations started.
For something more elaborate, try taking your employees to an escape room challenge. At these locations, groups are “locked” in a room and they need to find their way out in under an hour by solving various puzzles. It’s a great way for people to use their problem-solving skills and quickly bond over a fun, but challenging, exercise.
Read more on solving puzzles
Better Communication Technology
Another thing you should look to do is improve the technology your employees use. This is especially important if your employees work in different locations. If your employees are primarily relying on email to communicate, you’re missing out on some great opportunities.
For instance, you could provide them with video conferencing software so that even though they are in different locations, they can still talk face to face. Another option is providing instant messaging software so that they can quickly chat more informally.
Adding this new technology doesn’t have to cost a fortune and can really boost your business’s efficiency. For example, you could introduce WhatsApp Business multiple users that would allow your entire team to log into one WhatsApp business account, saving you money but still allowing everyone to communicate easily.
Regular Lunch Gatherings
Lunch is a great time to have your employees spend more time together. It’s a nice break from the other work they are doing where they can spend time chatting more informally. To make the most of this, encourage your employees to spend their lunch breaks together or schedule team lunches at the same time for everyone.
If you want these lunch meetings to be a little productive as well, consider implementing a lunch and learn. A lunch and learn is when you introduce a new concept or some training during the lunch hour. Have all your employees take their lunch at the same time, then as everyone is eating, introduce your new information in a more informal setting. It’s a good way to get important information across while still having your employees spend more time together.
Of course, not all employee interactions need to happen during work hours. Sometimes the best interactions happen after everyone is done for the day. To help your employees bond, consider setting up some afterwork events for everyone to attend.
For instance, you could take everyone out to dinner once per quarter. Or you could go for happy hour drinks on Fridays after work. If you think your employees would be more comfortable without their manager, encourage one of your employees to organize the event and go without you. Sometimes a relaxed atmosphere where you don’t have to talk about work is the best thing to help employees bond.
Finally, a great tool to bring people together is internal competition. If you can get your employees to compete against one another in friendly competition, it will give them something to talk about besides work. There are some very simple competitions you can introduce that your employees may love.
For example, you could start a Fantasy Football league. Even people who don’t watch football can get involved with this weekly competition in the fall. If football doesn’t suit your office, you can try a fantasy league for that TV show everyone loves. There’s plenty of options out there – focus on picking something fun and encourage everyone to join.
Benefit from Better Employee Communication
As you can see, the above ideas don’t cost a lot of time or money to implement. However, you’ll get plenty of benefits from having happier employees and better communication throughout the business.
So, if you’re looking for ways to improve employee interactions, start with one of the ideas above and keep trying new things until you find what works.