How To Encourage Better Mental Health Through Team Building
Strengthening teamwork and mental health alike are two goals that go together in any business. One can vastly complement the other, leading to a positive atmosphere and increase in productivity. A team of colleagues who work well together is the cornerstone of a successful company. According to research carried out by the Queens University of Charlotte, 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as ‘very important’. There’s little doubt that collaboration is essential, especially when it comes to encouraging a strong mental wellbeing.
As the lockdown in the UK disrupted businesses big and small, the workforce had to change and evolve. Remote working has, in many cases, become part of the “new normal”, which means teams are now faced with new challenges in how they work together.
This article explores how promoting teamwork, through team building exercises, has great benefits to mental health. Even with teams working remotely, or from home, there are still daily opportunities to connect and collaborate.
How does team building improve mental health?
The average working day adds up to eight hours per day, five days a week. That’s a significant proportion of time invested in work. If a person does not enjoy this time, the likelihood is that their mental health will suffer as a result. It’s vital that employees feel positive and happy in order for them to have a productive day whether in the office or working from home. A productive, happy employee will benefit both the team and the wider business.
Collaborating with fellow colleagues and feeling like a valued member of a team is extremely important when it comes to feeling positive about work, whether they’re in the office or doing so remotely. Consequently, business owners and senior staff need to ensure they are constantly promoting team building and general collaboration – especially if they manage remote teams.
Social relationships, formed at work or elsewhere, are known to be hugely beneficial to mental health. In fact, a study undertaken by the Economic and Social Research Council showed that social isolation is a key trigger for mental illness, and that adults with no friends are the worst off psychologically. This statistic becomes considerably timelier and more topical given the large percent of the UK workforce that is remote, or away from the office. Working from home, away from teams, can make that distance feel exaggerated and worsen mental wellbeing. That’s because remote working can, if not properly managed, lead to a feeling of being unsupported and isolated. To counteract this, we need to consider team-building exercises, both in the office, and outside of it.
Team building exercises, however, are designed to help individuals’ bond and form relationships that are long standing and sustained. Whilst the reason for this might be to create a more productive and collaborative workplace, another benefit is the friendships that are likely to blossom.
Virtual team building exercises to help colleagues stay connected
To help bolster remote engagement, teams are now being prompted to connect routinely via the likes of video-conferencing apps, or other alternate collaborative platforms. Distances do not have to hinder the connectivity of your team, and these regular exercises can keep them sharply alert and focused.
- Thinking Critically – Hosting regular meetings means that you can always keep connected – or at least when it’s most needed. This ensures smooth delivery of your operation; importantly, your team can connect, share, and engage through virtual meetings, creative sessions, or video-calls that allows them to engage critical thinking.
- Problem Solving – Another helpful way to encourage better communication and listening is by using collaborative platforms to update, share and exchange problems that need solving. This opens teams to discussion – especially when an issue can be talked through.
- Casual Updates – Sometimes it helps for teams to connect, but without an immediate work-related goal. Even if you open a meeting with casual team updates, asking people to discuss things beyond work can feel therapeutic.
Each of these team building activities will help your employees get to know each other, and those who aren’t the most confident in the workplace will likely start to come out of their shell.
Skills gained from team building exercises
As well as facilitating bonding between colleagues, team building exercises have the added benefit of learning new skills. From the ability to think outside of the box, to communicating clearly, many of these skills are highly valuable in a work environment.
- Improved communication
- Lateral thinking
The potential skills obtained from team building activities will help ensure that a business continues to be innovative and successful, as well as creating a good working atmosphere.
Return to the old ways: keeping connected in the “new normal”
These days, many are hopeful of returning to business as usual. For those who return to the office – team building and collaboration – especially as part of culture building – is still as essential for employees who will be more involved in the office. The extent to these exercises can take teams beyond the office, such as team-building in the fresh air, or a trip to a scenic escape. There’s little substitute to the old ways of building a team through regular contact. If your teams are back in the office, on a gradual return, consider a countryside escape as a way for them to connect again. They’re likely to feel unfamiliar with both the office and the team, so these fun escapes can encourage them to reconnect.
Sustaining a team of people that work well together is a significant advantage for management, because happy employees help promote good mental health in the workplace. Mental health at work continues to be a very important issue that should be a priority for every business owner, as employers have a duty of care regarding the wellbeing of their staff.
Author bio: Helen Williams, a digital content writer and regular contributor to Elvetham Hotel’s blog and other travel & lifestyle publications.