Employee benefits extend beyond the insurance and retirement conditions atop an offer letter. Enjoying your job, for one, can be of exceptional personal and professional benefit.
The rising popularity of millennial workplace benefits such as ping-pong break rooms, work from home days, and go-kart team excursions are the result of years of research showing the value of engaged and happy employees. But it’s more than just the possibility of happiness-induced productivity. Employers can also increase workplace collaboration by offering the right benefits.
The most overt workplace benefit shown to increase collaboration among workers is a well-planned office environment.
You probably knew of Google’s extravagant offices, but did you know all of Google’s perks are backed by empirical research?
Google’s unconventional floor plans are designed to corral people into groups and foster conversation and ultimately the transfer of ideas. Relaxed work environments can decrease stress, which keeps employees open to forming new relationships.
Though open offices are risky in some situations, the right mix of company culture and interactive projects can help foster familiarity with other employees working in the same department. Recreational amenities such as a fitness room, ping-pong table, or library encourage interaction between employees from opposite corners of the company.
Whether in the form of team-based games, fundraisers, or rewards programs, company-wide activities stimulate collaboration. Like the office environment, competitive activities can factor into employees’ enjoyment of their job, and improve both productivity and morale.
If organized properly, such games and activities should introduce employees to other workers they don’t regularly interact with. By working together to set goals, solve fun problems, or tackle an obstacle course, employees will quickly get to know people outside their typical workgroup.
Outside of physical activities, employee engagement software offers many of the same team-building benefits. For fundraisers, tools such as Leaderboarded display the progress and real time ranking of each team. Posted rankings can trigger greater participation and provide a universal conversation point around the office (think March Madness or the Olympics).
Ranking systems can even operate in tandem with work objectives, like sales. FantasySalesTeam is an employee engagement software that simulates the fantasy football dynamic in the workplace. This helps employees look objectively at the productivity of their peers, their teams, and themselves in light of serious company goals and amusing in-game achievements, badges, and trophies.
If openly sharing productivity metrics doesn’t fit your company culture, tools like Keas can translate the same collective participation into some other mediums such as health management. Keas’ platform can function as either a personal health tracker or a social health network. If employees feel comfortable discussing health tips and personal progress, they’ll be that much more comfortable with collaborative problem solving and dispute resolution.
Ease of Communication
Communication is the key to collaboration. The primary advantages of open environments and competitive activities are that they prompt employee interaction, and help improve employees’ ability to communicate with each other.
Internal social networks complement such physical office spaces, and encourage interaction across office barriers and with those who are more social online than in person.
More whimsical tools like Officevibe merge company-wide activities and social interaction. Managers assign weekly objectives to their teams that can range from wearing a company t-shirt to playing ping pong. Participants can then congratulate each other for fulfilling these goals. Similar to competitive games, these activities provide a central hub of interaction that everyone in the company can relate with.
Another engagement solution, WooBoard, is similar to Officevibe except but focuses on congratulating coworkers and recognizing their achievements through Facebook-style posts and interactions.
If practicality is a concern, internal networking and interaction can even be mapped and analyzed for effectiveness when combined with data from emails and other lines of business communication (like project management software with embedded instant messaging tools).
A well designed environment, engaging activities, and continuously open lines of communication go a long way in facilitating workplace collaboration, not to mention building a more enjoyable workplace. Employee benefits, when properly implemented, benefit businesses.