You may have heard the adage, “Those who work together, stay together.” Or wait, is it, “Those who play together, stay together”? I’ve heard them both. Which one is it? Does it matter? I think they’re both true and important. Especially at work.
A big part of getting a group of employees to gel is by adding non-work-related elements. From a study by the State of Friendship, a good portion of adults (36 percent) met one or more of their closest friends at work. And when employees have good friends at work, they’re much more likely to stick around—therefore, helping with retention. One study found that 67 percent of employees chose friendships with coworkers as the top reason why they were staying at jobs.
I probably don’t need to mention how friendships build upon an already strong company culture, but I will. Wouldn’t you agree that working together is a lot easier when you actually like those you’re working with?
We can help promote healthy work relationships that turn into coworker friendships. Here are some things you can do to support and help your team organically grow (and stay) together:
1. Share Food. It’s one of the first things we do together (many companies take new hires out to lunch on the first day) and then we have to eat again every day. That’s why it’s only natural that you would take time to catch a bite with a coworker at that new burrito restaurant or bring in donuts to share.
2. Play Games. One of the fastest ways employees can get to know each other—especially from different departments—is to play a game together. At our office, we have a group of people from IT, HR, development, product, marketing and sales that meet up in the conference room daily board games during lunch. When I need something from someone in another department, I usually have a “game” buddy I can ask for that favor.
3. Exercise. Of course, exercise is good for us on so many levels. Some companies organize basketball or softball teams to play together on our off hours. Groups of people go lift weights or do cross-fit together on their lunch breaks—maybe even a weekly “ultimate frisbee” group. Some companies organize Fitbit contests. I even see employees doing yoga during breaks.
4. Watch TV. Some people gather around one of the televisions at lunch to watch TV shows like Parks & Rec or Portlandia. Sometimes they’ll even break up a movie over several lunch breaks and pop some popcorn to catch a movie they’ve been wanting to see.
5. Celebrate. We’re all at work to do a job, but there’s no harm celebrating at times. Use some of those special days, like Cinco de Mayo or Pi Day, to have a chance to all bring food and celebrate the day. We have regular scheduled cheese parties during lunch where we all brought a fancy cheese.
6. Carpool. It can be fun and cost-effective to organize a carpool for people who live in the same area. You get to know each other better and can even sneak in a little extra brainstorming on projects when you’re pressed for time. And, of course, the world will be a better place (think about the environment).
7. Grow A Garden. Our office building offers little plots of free land employees can use to garden. Why not have a team garden? I’ve visited with my friends in the product department about some pressing matters, and they took me on a walk to show me their team garden. They have tomatoes! And you know, if they can grow tomatoes together, just think of all the things that team can accomplish together.
Most of the time we’re focusing on hiring for skills and training our employees. Just remember, one of the most important aspects of working together as a team is enjoying the work. Work should be fun and productive.
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