Do you use labels and nicknames to identify colleagues around the workplace, ‘the one who’s always smiling’, or ‘the one from men’s clothing?’ If so, you may not be on your own. One study suggests “a third of UK workers in small businesses don’t know the names of their co-workers.” This is a shocking statistic considering a small company has been defined in the study as 20 employees or less.
Learning someone’s name is the starting point of any new relationship, so if your employees haven’t done this already, you need to help them. Not only will this lack of affiliation look bad to your customers, it can also cause unnecessary problems and awkwardness within the working environment.
An article by Mind Tools says, “According to the Gallup Organization, people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. And it doesn’t have to be a best friend: Gallup found that people who simply had a good friend in the workplace are more likely to be satisfied.”
Here’s some great tips that you can introduce which will encourage workers to bond:
Presenting new employees
Whenever you hire a new employee, it is crucial that they are introduced to the rest of the workforce. Some people aren’t confident, and therefore if you leave them to make the first move and say hi to their fellow employees, it may never happen. It can be a very scary and intimidating experience being the new girl or boy, so make this easier by walking around each department, and getting the staff located there to explain a little about it, and themselves. Straight away your new employee will feel more comfortable, and get a true feel for their new workplace. Due to this initial introduction, both the new and existing staff should feel less awkward and apprehensive approaching each other.
There is nothing worse than someone getting your name wrong, so hopefully this early introduction should stop this from happening. Employees won’t need to uncomfortably glance at another’s name badge to discover their name, or call them something completely wrong because they simply aren’t sure.
Remember, as a boss it is your place to encourage co-workers to bond.
By hosting regular meetings, this can be a great environment to introduce new workers. If you don’t have time to walk around each department showing a new employee around, do it when everyone’s in the same room instead. You have to be careful though, as not everyone likes attention. Make sure this isn’t an intimidating encounter- but instead a friendly one. You could then assign them to a more established employee, who can do the office tour and give advice about great nearby places to go for lunch, where the best coffee shop is, and the nearest public transport stations, to make them feel welcome and settled.
As an alternative to hosting a formal meeting in work time, why not treat your employees to a day out, or evening meal. Not only will this show your appreciation for them, it will make new and existing workers closer. They will have time to bond in a relaxed environment, away from the stresses of work.
Many people enjoy sports, so you could set up a work team. You could organise for people to take part in generic games that can be played on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis- or maybe something completely wacky that many won’t have tried before, like climbing or go-carting. Again, these are both great team building exercises, and ones that have the added bonus of fitness as well. New individuals will also be able to show off their skills in a casual environment, making friends as they perform.
According to one study by The Social Issue Research Centre, “sport – and conversations between staff and customers, managers and staff, men and women – can have a positive impact on boosting morale and improving mood, motivation and productivity in the working environment.”
Do you have a shared kitchen? If not you might want to think about offering some sort of rest space where employees can go to spend their breaks or lunches. Communal areas are a great place for people to meet and bond. Put a radio or television in there to encourage a relaxed atmosphere, and this might work to stimulate conversation too. You could also hang up a bulletin board featuring updates with employees, rules and other useful information. New members of staff can look at this to find out a bit extra about the company and their new co-workers.
As an owner, it is especially important that you get to know everyone’s names and take an interest in employees ‘outside’ lives. By providing activities that encourages everyone to get involved, you will build a strong team and pleasant working environment.
If you want any finance to help you fund team building exercises, renovations, or pay for new members of staff, Capify could provide you with £3,500-£500,000. Find out more here.