28 February 2020
Whether you are trying to establish a culture of wellness in the workplace or simply create a healthy work environment, overlooking the importance of having the right team in place is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. As management, you need to make sure that everyone is working in harmony, and I believe the key to getting this right lies in implementing the ‘three C’s’: communication, collaboration and culture.
Regular and consistent communication between your team members is vital for operations, project management, delivery and morale. I’ve worked in offices where no one spoke to one another, and not only was it incredibly demotivating, but also lonely. You may argue that this point is specific to industry, but I disagree – every job needs some form of communication. I always thought that game developers were holed up in a basement not speaking to anyone for days on end, but I found out when I worked with them that this isn’t the case at all.
No one works in isolation, and I don’t believe it’s productive to do so. Everyone needs feedback, or a second pair of eyes, or even simply a sounding board to vent your frustrations about difficult clients, challenging colleagues or even a god-awful boss.
One communication tool I advocate is Slack. I have used it in several jobs , both when freelancing and in an office environment, and its usability and add-on features make it a brilliant platform for teamwork. Whether you’re working on one project or many, its ‘channels’ allow for the division of activities, as well as the assignment of tasks through its ‘tagging’ function.
Slack also proves useful in being able to connect team members to one another, particularly those who work remotely with those who may work in the office. By having a central location in which the entire company can find all the most up to date conversations on past and current projects, Slack enables and encourages a culture of both knowledge sharing, and open communication and transparency. Though it’s also important to ‘switch off’ from Slack as the constant notifications can become somewhat overwhelming. Similarly to being in a WhatsApp with over 10 members and constant messages, you can simply ‘mute’ your notifications outside of office hours so that you don’t get sucked into the ‘always on’ culture within which us millennials supposedly reside.
One word of caution, however: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. We’re all so busy, it’s a huge temptation just to shoot off a message, even if the person you’re tagging is sat feet away from you. Phone calls with remote workers and face to face meetings with colleagues should be a key component of your company communication strategy. Whether a project needs a more detailed discussion, or a message has gotten lost in translation, nothing will beat actual verbal or physical communication to ensure you are coming across clearly.
Some of the most successful (and enjoyable) projects I’ve worked on have been those to which the entire team contributed. The shared sense of satisfaction and triumph, or even the camaraderie when things don’t quite go to plan, is needed in any work environment. Creating a culture in which joint effort is not only encouraged but commended is good for business, and brings people together. It ensures that no one individual feels singled out – in good times and bad.
Collaboration also allows everyone to play to their strengths. Everyone on the team will have something different to offer in terms of their set of skills and their expertise, and it’s important for management not only to recognise this but to use it to the company’s advantage.
In order to create a collaborative culture, people need to feel appreciated. It’s important that their loyalty and hard work is not taken for granted. Rather, it should be celebrated and rewarded.
Customer satisfaction is one thing, but what about satisfying your employees? Making sure your team is valued is key not only for staff retention, but also for creating a workspace in which people can take pride in their work. Whilst some companies offer perks such as gym memberships and ‘cycle to work’ schemes, it’s important to start with the basics. Gratitude. Praise. Incentives. These may sound obvious and yet so many leaders forget exactly that – the basics.
To end on a well-worn (and rather clichéd) trope… teamwork makes the dream work. It’s one thing to be able to say you work well independently or within a team, it’s another to be able to lead a team who works well together. It’s one of the things of which I’m most proud.That’s why I believe putting workplace wellness at the forefront of your company culture starts with management putting the team at the forefront of their thinking.