In some companies, employees sit at their desks with their earphones in, their fingers typing away to the rhythm of their tunes. The management is private and withdrawn, discussing important company matters, like new clients and major projects, behind closed doors.
These kinds of behaviors might seem productive and efficient, but they actually hurt the workplace environment more than they help it. That’s because they’re inherently non-collaborative, creating a workplace culture that restricts openness and teamwork.
Non-collaborative company behaviours generate obstacles like company bureaucracy, slow progress on tasks, and limited employee motivation. A more team-oriented workplace culture, on the other hand, helps employees put their best foot forward and incentivises them to take initiative. Here are just some of the reasons collaboration in the workplace leads to happier employees while benefiting your company overall.
A collaborative workplace allows for more efficient workflow, not just because it improves team communication but, more deeply, because it changes the very framework of the way employees conduct their work. Team members working collaboratively will meet ahead of time to discuss and plan action items, and they delegate tasks based on each person’s area of expertise. Knowing how to hand off tasks smoothly between different team members is another benefit of a strong collaborative process. This has a huge impact on employee happiness, since it eliminates the time-consuming, tedious, and sometimes frustrating task of filling in other team members from scratch.
When the workplace culture is team-oriented, a sense of camaraderie develops among employees. Your team or entire company can regularly do bonding activities, like going out to a meal, attending a show, or going to an escape room. Even during the workday, your company can give everyday professional activities a social atmosphere. For example, some businesses might have snack time, “Funday Mondays,” or happy hours for their employees. They might even open up group messaging channels specifically for non-work-related material, like interesting news or funny GIFs. The result is that the employees are not only happier but also have more incentive to complete their tasks, since they’re both professionally and emotionally invested in their team.
Transparency is a natural consequence of collaboration. Employees are more satisfied when they feel that their team members and senior management don’t leave them in the dark but, instead, trust them as part of the team. While it might seem counterintuitive, or even risky, companies succeed when they take transparency in business a step further by providing employees with every detail from project tasks to company finance. When you give team members collective access to project updates and tasks, it encourages every employee to be as transparent with each other as possible. This not only makes the workplace culture more open and communicative, but it also makes the workflow move even faster.
When team members work together, the process becomes more creative and innovative than when an individual is working alone. This is because team members come with a diversity of viewpoints and expertise in varying fields. When you encourage employees to share their perspectives and experiences with one another, they can tackle problems creatively and come up with innovative approaches to achieving project goals.
A recent Stanford study found that test subjects who worked collaboratively stuck to their task 64% longer than those who worked alone. This was, in part, because the collaborative subjects saw each task as extending beyond themselves and affecting the entire team. Team collaboration and camaraderie make each team member want to work to help not just themselves, but also the team as a whole. As the team works together toward a common goal, struggles through the same obstacles, and celebrates the same accomplishments, they develop a strong sense of solidarity that motivates them through the project.
Reduced Individual Pressure
When a single employee feels isolated among a deluge of tasks with no one to turn to for help, they’re likely to feel a huge weight on their shoulders. A strong, collaborative team can act as a support system for each team member, lending a “we’re all in this together” feeling to even the most daunting tasks. At the same time, being able to ask questions and share tasks among team members relieves pressure by distributing the work involved in each project. Each employee will feel less intimidated when several team members--and not just one--are responsible for reaching a given goal.
Any good company should help its employees grow both personally and professionally. In addition to bringing to the workplace the experience they already have, employees should leave the workplace each week with newly acquired knowledge. Collaborating with coworkers and higher-ups can help employees learn valuable, industry-specific skills. When you encourage a mentorship relationship between newer employees and those with more seniority, you motivate both sides to engage even further.
Team collaboration doesn’t just benefit each individual employee; it also benefits customers and clients. The improved company-client relationship will give employees a feeling of achievement and the sense that they’re doing their job well. In addition, it will make the workflow smoother and easier, since employees won’t have to confront the additional task of managing disgruntled customers. Their positive relationships with customers will, in turn, improve employee happiness overall.
Sense of Purpose
Collaboration in the workplace gives employees a shared sense of purpose as they make progress toward their overarching goals. Rather than keeping your employees’ knowledge confined to a single, seemingly disconnected task, show them how even the smallest tasks fit into the bigger picture. This will help them feel that what they’re doing isn’t pointless, and that, on the contrary, it has a direct and important relationship to the project--and the company--as a whole.
Workplace collaboration goes hand-in-hand with a well-managed project schedule. When team members collaborate in the right way--meaning that tasks are done at the appropriate times and managed by team members with the appropriate level of expertise--goals can be accomplished more efficiently. With the resulting efficiency, employees will be able to stay on top of things and work calmly and steadily without needing to rush or cram. They’ll also be able to consistently leave work on time, without stressing about staying late to finish up tasks last-minute, so that they can make their personal lives a priority.
Emphasising collaboration in your business
Some employees fear that an increased focused on their efforts as a team will only reduce the visibility of their individual accomplishments. Senior management, meanwhile, might fear that embracing a more collaborative culture--and revealing more company information to employees in the process--will reduce their control over the project.
The reality, though, is that intense competition and rigid management only stifle employee motivation and creativity, and that workplace collaboration is much healthier for companies overall. When your company reaps the benefits of collaboration--whether they’re improvements in the social environment, a smoother and more stress-free workflow, or the ability to learn from experienced team members--employees will have a more positive experience in the workplace and will improve their work ethic and dedication as a result. Increasing employee happiness, in other words, is a self-sustainable way to consistently produce great results.