Do Team Building Exercises Build Employee Engagement?

Companies spend big dollars on team building exercises. If these exercises don’t achieve employee engagement it is not possible to build a great team. Action packed team building exercises are fun for those who like them and can make a difference, but does it bring the best return on your investment dollar?

When we look at the motivators, job satisfiers and how people learn, there are some fundamentals. Just like Dr Seuss, you need “Fun 1” and “Fun 2”. Have you heard of this?  ‘Fun 1’ is hilarity, barbecues, Friday drinks, Christmas party.  ‘Fun 2’ is what happens when the job is the right sized challenge and autonomy for you, where you get the right size opportunity for learning and growth and mutual support and respect; ‘Fun 2’ is when the meaningfulness of your work fits your needs and that the availability of a desirable future fits what you want.

While a healthy dose of ‘Fun 1’ is important, the answer to employee engagement lies in ‘Fun 2’. Note that all of Fun 2 lies in the job itself.  ‘Fun 2’ is the intrinsic reward in the job itself –connected to vision and being able to raise issues quickly and resolve them (we call that  fighting clean).

In the masterful book, “The Future of Learning, The Michel Thomas Method”, Michel Thomas the unquestionable Master Teacher puts a great deal of effort into removing tension. It is vital to understand that tension prevents our innate desire to learn (and perform).

Removing tension has a profound effect on your ability to learn and perform – not to be confused with relaxation (meditation, resting, massage) which has a limited, short term effect.  Tension lies in the job being the ‘wrong size’. So, what key tensions at work need removing?

Is each of your team’s jobs the ‘right size’ for them (as above for Fun 2)?  Are their jobs clearly aligned with their personal and the organization’s vision? Are they able to raise issues quickly and resolve them? If the answer is “no” to these, you are wasting vital cash flow with team building exercises. The answer is closer to home and will find you a stack of hidden profit in the business waiting to be found.

If you will direct your people investment dollar into a less flashy, longer term process, you will get returns that are FAR greater, deeper and longer lasting than any team building exercise.

The Dale Carnegie Corporation recently released data that stated, “Companies with engaged employees outperform others by 47% to 202%“.

Engaged employees respect and will be respected; engaged employees are valuable and feel valued. It’s up to you to give them what they need so they can give you what you need.