Employee bonding can help coworkers learn more about each other and facilitate a more open work environment. That's why it's so important for teams to find ways to bond with one another. Understanding the ways employee bonding keeps your team communicating effectively can help you determine the best ways to build stronger connections. In this article, we discuss employee bonding and offer some ideas your workplace can use.
What is employee bonding?
Employee bonding is when coworkers connect, grow their relationships and become better collaborators in the workplace. Employee bonding strategies can lead to happier and more productive employees, which is important to creating a positive work culture and strong, effective teams. Employers, managers or supervisors can schedule opportunities for employee bonding for whole departments or organizations, but team members can also plan employee bonding events for small groups and teams, too.
Benefits of employee bonding
Here are some reasons you should try to connect with your coworkers:
- Learn about each other: Employee bonding helps you and your coworkers get to know each other better. Learning more about your coworkers' work styles, personalities and personal interests can help you all collaborate and work together better.
- Improve team performance: Team building can help your team better understand each other's strengths, weaknesses and interests, which can help you all delegate and complete your work more efficiently.
- Boost employee morale: When employees feel close to one another, they tend to feel more satisfied with their workplace. For instance, celebrating each others' achievements can help people feel happier and more productive.
- Gain more creativity: One way to think of innovative solutions and creative ideas is to have group brainstorming sessions. When working in the office, this is easy to do in a conference room. Companies with remote workers should also find ways to have these kinds of meetings.
Types of employee bonding
There are many ways coworkers can get to know each other on a deeper level while at work, after the workday ends or in another professional setting. Here are some ways you can connect with your coworkers:
- Team-building games
- Team lunches
- Personable meetings
- Regular acknowledgments
- Game tournaments
- Charity events
- After-work meetups
Many team-building games can help teams establish trust and work on their communication skills. Many of these games are fun and lighthearted, which gives employees a chance to socialize with one another. Splitting into teams, and competing in scavenger hunts, puzzle games and egg drop challenges can promote teamwork and cooperation, helping people develop a better understanding of how they work with coworkers and how they're coworkers manage problem-solving in the workplace, too.
Some companies treat their employees to team lunches to celebrate achievements or to boost employee morale. Your team can either go out to eat together, have the meal catered or hold a potluck where everyone contributes a dish. This brief time spent away from work activities can allow coworkers to unwind, talk over a good meal and get to know each other better. Along with talking about work, coworkers can learn more about each other's families, hobbies and interests.
At the beginning of every meeting, set aside extra time for everyone to have some casual conversation. You could start off the meeting with some "icebreaker" questions. Some questions you can ask during this time include:
- What was your first job?
- How did you get into this career?
- What is your favorite movie?
- What kind of music do you enjoy?
- What are you currently reading?
- What is your favorite quote?
- What was the best part of your week?
- What is something you are looking forward to?
- Where is your favorite place to visit?
- What are your hobbies?
- What'd the best advice you've ever heard?
- Do you have any collections?
- What is your favorite food?
- Have you ever met someone famous?
This time can be a great way for people to relax before a long meeting and gives them a chance to connect.
Boost employee morale by encouraging your workplace to more regularly acknowledge employees' accomplishments. For example, you could nominate one employee as the MVP each week. Your team could choose to give them an award, such as a gift card or bragging rights. Another way to acknowledge each other's accomplishments is to give your coworkers public positive feedback. This shows everyone how hard-working they are and can boost employee morale.
Many workplaces benefit from a little healthy competition among employees. Find a game that your team can compete in. Online games make it easy to play in the office during breaks. Yard games, such as bag toss, are also fun to play outside during an outing or in a large, open office space. Your team could also start an intramural sports team, such as softball, kickball or volleyball. Keep a company-wide scoreboard, and make a fun tournament out of it. Employees might enjoy having something to look forward to during their work breaks or after they clock out.
Volunteer days or charity races are a unique way for teams to bond outside of work. Employees may also appreciate having a chance to give back to the community. When deciding on a charity event, send out a company-wide survey to learn which events everyone is the most excited to support. Some options might include forming a team for a local Relay for Life event or volunteering at a local food bank.
Invite your coworkers to meet for dinner or a happy hour after work. This is a great way to get to know each other in a more casual setting. Having these meetups regularly can help employees connect on a personal level and become friends both in and out of the workplace, which can create a more positive environment overall.
Another after-work event that can help employees bond is an annual work party. Many employers allow their employees to bring their significant others or family members to work parties, which can help coworkers learn more about each other's lives outside of work. These work parties could be to celebrate the winter holidays or have some summer fun.
Ways for remote teams to bond
Team building and employee bonding may look different when working from home, but it is still possible and useful for employees. Here are some types of employee bonding remote workplaces can try:
- Video conferences
- Coffee talks
- Team meals
- Bring-your-pet-to-work day
- Water cooler chatroom
Video conferences are a richer form of communication than audio calls, emails or messaging. When people talk on video conferences, their peers can see their nonverbal cues such as posture, facial expressions and physical gestures.
Video conferencing may help employees communicate better since nonverbal communication can improve the way people relate, engage and establish meaningful connections with one another. Consider holding regular meetings via video conference to help team members feel connected while brainstorming, making decisions and providing progress updates.
While working in an office setting, you may have created connections with coworkers while brewing your morning coffee in the office kitchen. When working from home, schedule coffee talks via video call with different team members throughout the week. During these coffee talks, you and your coworkers can benefit from the social time and casual conversation as you begin your workday. Use it as a time to catch up with your coworkers and talk about how you are doing.
During lunchtime, plan a conference call for everyone to chat while enjoying their lunch. You can even choose a meal for everyone to make on the same day. Team members can compare their recipes while having fun cooking. You could also all order delivery from the same restaurant or in the same cuisine if possible, so you feel like you're right at the office. These kinds of shared experiences help everyone feel closer while they're working from their own homes.
Since many people working from home have their pets as coworkers, a bring-your-pet-to-work day video call is a great way for everyone to have some fun. Plan a time for everyone to show their pets on camera. You could also share funny pictures of your pet in the company chat or email thread throughout the day.
Water cooler chatroom
Make time for spontaneous interactions throughout your workday. Create a separate channel on your organization's instant messaging system or email thread for "water cooler chat." This chat can be reserved for funny memes, GIFs, casual banter and life updates. You can also use it as a place for people to share their thoughts and feelings and get advice and support from others, which can promote long-distance friendships.