Employees want flexible work not team-building exercises

Most employees feel that some organised team-building activities can be a waste of time and believe teams would function better if their employer focused more on things like giving them the tools to work flexibly, according to a survey by Vodafone UK and YouGov.

Most employees feel that some organised team-building activities can be a waste of time and believe teams would function better if their employer focused more on things like giving them the tools to work flexibly, according to a survey by Vodafone UK and YouGov.

British workers would much prefer being able to communicate with each other better at work rather than being forced to build rapport with their co-workers by sharing adrenaline experiences or performing ‘trust’ exercises, according to the poll of more than 1,000 British employees.
 
While the majority of workers surveyed (66 per cent) have been made to do some form of team-building activity, more than half (54 per cent) don’t feel that doing more would help them work better with their colleagues.

“British companies are spending a huge amount of time and effort in building more effective teams,” says Peter Kelly, Enterprise Director at Vodafone UK. “This research confirms that people place more value on open, collaborative and flexible ways of working every day than one-off team-building exercises.”

According to the survey, adrenaline experiences like speed-boating and bungee jumping are considered the least effective team-building activities, followed by trust exercises such as being blindfolded and led by colleagues. Those deemed most effective are social events like going out for a drink or a meal, followed by volunteering and charity work.

Rather than potentially waste money on frivolous team-building exercises, respondents with a negative view of team-building suggest that companies should instead focus on providing a more supportive atmosphere at work, enabling better team communication and offering tools for flexible working as their top three priorities.

“Many genuine team-building activities can be valuable, but ultimately, to achieve better teamwork businesses need to get the basics right first. Employers need to focus on how their employees work day-to-day, and give
staff the tools they need to be able to do their job best. Employees also want to be able to work smarter – and that means easy access to customers, colleagues and information wherever they are," says Kelly.

Respondents are also clear about the negative impacts of not working effectively as a team. The most serious of these were delayed decision-making (named by 31 per cent), unhappy customers through poor response (29 per cent), missing targets because of lack of timely input from colleagues (28 per cent), and making the wrong decisions because of lack of access to the right people and information (28 per cent).

Overall, only 26 per cent of respondents feel that more team-building would help them work more effectively with their colleagues. Older people seemed to have a more jaded view of team-building exercises than their younger colleagues: only 10 per cent of people aged 55 and over say they help improve team working, compared with 42 per cent of 18–24 year-olds. People in Scotland seem to be more positive than those south of the border, with 33 per cent of respondents saying that more team-building events would encourage better team working.





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