Your organization’s employer brand is a major reason why new employees join rather than going to another employer. Astute employers attend to their employer brand because it attracts the best applicants for their job openings. And team building is key to your employer branding.
Employer branding is how an organization improves its corporate identity, corporate image, and reputation, particularly among target employees. It helps the organization attract the best talents and skills to its workforce.
A corporate identity or corporate image is how an organization presents itself internally and externally to its various stakeholders such as customers, shareholders, employees and the media. Organizations can be of any type or size, eg companies, not-for-profit entities, federal, State or local government departments, or privately-owned firms.
Organizations that successfully develop a corporate identity are known by their name, logo, slogan, product names and designs, advertising images and marketing PR. As you can see by the nature of these components, the corporate identity can be developed and projected quickly.
Reputation is about what other people think of you over time. It is defined as the overall estimation in which an organization is held by its internal and external stakeholders based on the organization’s past actions and probability of its future behavior. It’s something you can’t actually control or manage. According to a report by AMO Strategic Advisors in 2019, the most valuable elements of reputation are driven by stakeholder impressions of:
- A company’s value as a long-term investment (doesn’t apply to NGOs or government)
- Its quality of management
- Its financial soundness.
Every highly skilled professional aims for career growth, a positive working environment, and competitive pay. While they can’t be sure of all these factors are in place before joining an organization, they will still be influenced by the employer brand to join one employer ahead of another.
Employer branding: Great companies understand that their employer brand goes a long way towards their success. Their brand reflects the quality of the products or services being offered, which boils down to the quality of their labor and management. Team building is key to employer branding, but the reality is that many employers don’t deliver on their promise. A 2017 survey by Weber Shandwick found that only 19% of 2,000 global employees polled reported feeling strongly that the work experience their employer promoted publicly actually happened. Sarah Clayton of Weber Shandwick wrote in a 2018 Harvard Business Review article:
This may help explain other data showing that almost one-third of new hires leave voluntarily within the first six months. Beyond the cost to replace staff, which is estimated at 50%–75% of the new hire’s annual salary, this type of attrition damages coworker morale, disrupts customer relationships, and, in the age of employer review sites like Glassdoor, inhibits companies’ ability to attract new talent.
These useful articles, “The essentials of employer branding” and “Use PR to help build your employer brand” give you further insights into the importance of communication in team building and employer branding.
Closing the gap
Recommended actions to close the gap between employee expectations and actual workplace experience – because team building is key to your employer branding:
- Get a clear understanding of your existing employer brand first.
- Review and develop clear values and a company mission – and communicate it.
- Define EVPs for the different candidate/employee groups. (An employee value proposition is the unique set of benefits an employee receives in return for the skills, capabilities, and experience they bring to an employer.)
- Gain external recognition for your efforts.
- Tell your employees’ stories.
- Encourage social media advocacy.
Importance of team building in employer branding
As your organizations develops its ‘best place to work’ theme, it’s important to realize that your first and most important audience isn’t potential job candidates — it’s your current employees, and their feeling of belonging as a team. Internal marketing around your employee value proposition serves to re-recruit staff, reminding them why they joined, strengthening their commitment to stay, and prompting them to refer others to the company.
Team building is key to your employer branding. As team building plays a vital role in the employer branding process, you want to ensure your workplace environment encourages teamwork and development. This strengthens the skills and outlook of every team member and greatly shapes your organization’s performance. But what is team building? In simple terms, it is a group of people who work together to meet the needs of their stakeholders by achieving required goals and expectations.
Four ways team building strengthens your employer brand
Even if you are not a boss, you can positively influence all team members, including the boss, with your suggestions, which could include these four ways to make team building key to your employer branding:
1. Team building makes your employees your best ambassadors
If managed properly, your employees give you good publicity, reputation, and brand image. Such employee support comes at no extra cost when they are encouraged and treated well. Engagement is about meeting employees’ needs in a way that sets them up for high performance. Engagement is the performance aspect of an organization’s culture. Four key characteristics define engaged cultures, which employees generally describe in these terms, according to Gallup data reported in 2020:
- Warm relationships, eg “friends” and “caring colleagues”
- Honesty, eg “open” and “integrity”
- Shared accountability and performance, eg “family,” “teamwork,” and “supportive”
- Alignment on shared goals, eg “cooperative,” “collaborate,” and “efficient.”
Overall, Gallup found that engaged employees are 23 times more likely than disengaged employees to strongly agree they would recommend their organization as a great place to work, as shown in the table below:
Gallup consultants go on to say:
Every day, people talk about what it’s like to work for your organization, shop at your business or hire your company’s services. And your engaged and disengaged employees are saying very different things about “how we do things around here.”
When you develop healthy team-building practices, you shape your employees’ interests to align with the company’s interests. The essential elements to building a productive team start with effective communication. Being good communicators as well as good listeners nurtures positive relationships at work. The other soft skills that comprise team-building are the proper delegation of the right tasks to the right employees, efficient collaboration, sharing ideas, and offering support to everyone involved in the team. This way, employees see themselves as part of a big dream and do all they can to ensure the dream becomes a reality.
A key finding in a 2018 global survey by the ADP Research Institute was that trust in team leaders is the foundation of employee engagement. One of the conclusions from the survey was a worker is 12 times more likely to be fully engaged if he or she trusts the team leader. Leaders can build the trust and engagement of their team members by maintaining good values, being empathetic and understanding, by being transparent and telling the truth at all times, by doing what they say they will do, and by leading from the front, as discussed in a Knowledge@Wharton article in 2020.
Team building activities
Before we jump into the usual entertaining team-building activities, we must keep in mind the situation with the global pandemic that has affected everyone’s lives. Since it has been more than a year of living with the global pandemic, we have adjusted our ways of living accordingly. Now there are virtual team-building activities for remote working.
Remote working can be just as productive as working from the office; however, the social part is affected most. The main complaints of people working from home are about the feelings of loneliness and boredom that come with WFH. To avoid such problems, at least to some degree, you could schedule virtual coffee breaks for your employees. This can be a time when they forget about work for a bit and instead discuss the latest book they read or a tv show they are watching.
It is also crucial for managers and supervisors check up on them daily, either to stay updated on how the work is going or simply to make sure that they are doing well emotionally. On the other hand, just because everyone is stuck at home, it does not mean stopping the development of their professional skills. Virtual training can be a great tool that brings individuals together to increase their knowledge and team spirit. They might even discuss these new topics with one another separately.
Tackling business issues and results as a team
Team building helps to create a sense of responsibility and involvement. This attribute makes it one of the most effective ways for your employees to become brand ambassadors. Certainly team building is key to your employer branding. A good way to strengthen your team attitude is to begin meetings with an uplifting approach – to praise individuals for their dedicated work or outstanding results. Employee recognition is a huge motivator, and can be done at no cost, or low cost. I believe it is a vital part of team building, so it should be included in all teams.
But you need to do it right. Team members can do it with colleagues as well as their boss doing it. What about team members recognizing their boss for great effort or performance? Without sucking up, of course! Read more about it in my articles. I have even written an ebook about it, which outlines more than 100 ways to recognize employees in the workplace.
Fun and valuable team building activities
But team building should also include some fun and games along the way.
In the office
- Various team-building activities are worth mentioning, activities that anyone can do, no matter the type of work. For instance, Human Knot is one activity where participants stand in a circle, they have to connect hands with two other people in the group to create a ‘human knot’. Then, together as a team, they attempt to untangle themselves without breaking this chain of hands. Human Knot is fun and easy, something that can be done during lunch break. It brings laughter, togetherness and drives away boredom.
- Another more challenging activity is Blind Retriever where teams are divided into smaller groups to compete against each other in trying to find a certain object. One person in the team is blindfolded while the others direct him or her to try and find the object before the other team does. This activity tests more than just one skill, how well employees follow instructions, and how they work under pressure.
In the office or remote
- Office Trivia is a great team-building activity because it drives people into being competitive and active thinkers This is a simple activity that only needs a number of questions related to the organization. This way workers will see who has the best ‘office knowledge’, meaning who knows most about the organization’s history or operations/performance.
- A way to brighten up the mood of staff before work and to help co-workers get familiar and comfortable with each other is the game Start with ‘A Good News’ Conversation. Here the staff could share their accomplishments with one another and celebrate any good news they want to share whether it is related to their families or their work.
- Try Daily Camera Shots. This simple way of team members sharing small portions from their personal life would keep the conversations going and create a bond between the team members. People can share a picture of something of their life, anything that tells a story about them: their dog or cat, their favorite mug to drink coffee, their kids, a favorite TV show, or even the view from their apartment or house. Then ask the remote employee to share the story behind the picture they shared. It would be a useful activity to arrange once or twice a week.
- Three truths and a lie. Ask employees to tell either two or three truths and one lie about themselves. Keep the lie realistic so it won’t be so easy for everyone to guess. The other employees need to guess which was the lie and whoever guesses right gains points.
There are heaps more great team activities on Google. For instance, SnackNation has 57 virtual team building suggestions you can browse.
The importance of team building during the global pandemic
It seems ages since we have been enduring the monumental problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is still a huge source of stress for everyone. The team-building activities mentioned help relieve anxiety and overcome this accumulated stress during these times of trouble. Therefore, such activities are important because they do not only bring employees together but also positively impact their mental health.
The stress caused by the global pandemic goes beyond some simple activities. Issues of mental health should be directly addressed: Whether you are a boss or a fellow team member, paying attention to possible mental health problems among colleagues is important. Your workplace should be an open, inclusive, and safe environment in which people are comfortable to come to work.
2. The growth of an employee is the growth of the organization
Team building helps to improve the quality of your staff. It means you should prioritize the growth and development of your employees. You can’t grow beyond the growth of your employees, and this extends to employer branding.
In understanding that your employees are shaping your brand, you need to make sure that you have built good teams, especially those whose actions directly influence your employer branding.
Good communication is another essential skill that helps to strengthen team bonds and therefore the employer brand. Some people are natural communicators, while others are quiet individuals who need some extra help with it. If a certain employee is either quiet or shy, the essential thing is to make them feel comfortable around you. Instead of forcing them to speak, directly ask them questions that require an answer and be content with the short and useful information that you will get. Open-ended questions are important to allow individuals to make a valued contribution without being able to wriggle away with a one-word answer. Patience is key here as even these workers will warm up soon enough and silence will no longer be the problem. Make sure that you nurture their preparedness to speak up as this will greatly benefit the growth of your organization.
Ultimately, the team would best communicate with one another if they accept one another as they are and respect these differences. Kindness, patience, and respect should be present at all times. If the working environment is safe, everyone will feel free to speak up their minds and as a result, have healthy communication.
3. Networking and recommendations
Skilled professionals are usually members of industry bodies, and therefore when they recommend you as an employer to their networks, your reputation is very likely to attract the best candidates.
Organizations achieve a good brand reputation through positive endorsements from their employees giving upbeat feedback in their internal and external networks. In other words, your employees are the best advocates who can spread the word for the value of your organization.
4. Talent retention
Employer branding is not complete until significant talent retention is achieved. It’s not just a matter of attracting talented new employees – you must also retain these newcomers to complete the branding process.
One of the best ways to ensure talent retention is to incorporate team building in your employee engagement strategy. Every employee wants to be a part of a goal-oriented team that continually produces good results, and you could build on this to retain them for your organization. Some of the main ideas to achieve employee engagement are by being open to admit your mistakes, prioritize feedback, recognize individual and team achievements, and prioritize their physical and mental health. In addition, the best way to measure team spirit is to conduct employee engagement surveys frequently at the team level, so you have an idea of what is going well and what needs to improve.
Employer branding is made a lot easier and more efficient when handled by professionals. If you don’t have this skill and experience within your organization, you can always outsource your team building to a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) for specialized input.
A Professional Employer Organization is an outsourcing firm that provides HR-related services mainly to small and medium-sized businesses. PEOs manage employee recruitment and management processes, including international payroll, taxes, and staff training. They also provide access to talented potential employees by developing your employment process to achieve the best branding.
A lot of time and effort in creating a good employer brand. One of the key strategies for branding to succeed is team building activities which increase the overall work productivity. Apart from these, virtual team building activities were also mentioned because we are living in the global pandemic age. It also focused in the importance of networking and recommendation and talent retention. Ultimately, employees need to work together for the company to keep growing.