So business is booming, you’ve finally hit your break, and it’s time to expand. It’s an exciting time, but it’s also frightening. Your company is changing; where before you knew everyone by name and all sat in the same room working together you might now have fifty or a hundred employees, and you’re growing faster than you can integrate new employees personally. This will raise worries about getting new team members integrated into the company culture and making them feel included. Here are a few easy ways to create an environment that encourages cohesion and cooperation.
Matching Company Gear
Note that I didn’t say uniforms, you don’t want your crew looking like fast food workers. Instead get custom printed t-shirts, bags, sweatshirts, or anything else you can think of. Wearing and possessing things that tie a person to your business reinforces a sense of belonging and encourages people to identify as a group. This is psychologically important all by itself because it encourages teamwork and cooperation, but it also presents a more unified front to any external observers, which is important if you’re in a service industry
High Quality Breaks
Don’t let anything related to work clutter up your break room. Supply high quality coffee, comfortable seating arrangements, and perhaps a TV. It’s important to allow people’s minds to wander away from the daily grind for a few minutes to prevent burnout and help employees build interpersonal relationships. This bit of time can turn co-workers into friends, and people who have friends at work deal more effectively with work stress, which will make them happier and more productive. For people with young kids at home it can also be highly beneficial to allow people to take short naps on their breaks to improve alertness and reduce stress.
Encouraging People to Disconnect After Work
It’s hard to believe that people would feel more connected to their jobs if you encourage them to distance themselves from it during off-hours, but the emotional mechanics are essentially the same as an extremely clingy friend. If people continue to be harassed their pagers, iPhones, or computers after work hours workers will begin to feel nagged and hunted, which can be devastating to morale. Workers who can fully disconnect at the end of the day to engage in their own interest without having to concern themselves with work matters will be much more ready to engage when they return in the morning.
All incentives are not created equal, and are probably the most powerful tool for shaping the nature of interpersonal relations among co-workers. If you want to create a competitive work environment where employees are fighting to get to the top, create competitive incentives, where the employee that produces the most or the best gets rewarded. If instead you want to promote teamwork and high achievement create incentives where employees are rewarded for performing at a specific level, regardless of the performance of other co-workers.
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