By Helen Williams, a digital content writer and regular contributor to Elvetham Hotel’s blog and other travel & lifestyle publications.
According to research published by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), almost one third of employees have experienced issues with mental health at work. The prevalence of this problem makes it clear that employers need to do as much as they can to support their employees. This is not only due to a duty of care, but also for the benefit of the business. It’s said that every unhappy employee can cost a company around £16,000 every year, due to loss of productivity.
There are a number of ways in which the workplace can support employees’ mental health. In addition to offering help when a person is going through a difficult time, in the form of flexibility or access to support networks, other things can be done pre-emptively. Team building exercises are one such idea. Team building helps to create an efficient, collaborative atmosphere in the workplace, and it can install a valuable sense of camaraderie among colleagues. This goes a long way toward supporting mental health.
How team building supports mental health
Considering how much time a full-time employee spends at work, it’s not surprising that to maintain good mental health they should enjoy being there. Unhappy employees will find that spending eight hours a day in an environment which causes them discontent or distress, is severely detrimental to their wellbeing.
To ensure this is not the case, or indeed to rectify an existing problem, employers need to consider how they can turn their workplace into a positive and productive environment.
A great place to start, in this respect, is encouraging staff to socialise and collaborate. This is because, knowing you’re a valuable member of a team and getting along with colleagues is vital when it comes to feeling positive about work. To help engender this kind of atmosphere, the management team should introduce a range of team building mechanisms.
A strong team will lead to a sense of worth in an employee, which in turn will cause them to take more pride in, and get more satisfaction out of their work. These elements combined will lead to better mental health.
Social relationships and mental health
With a solid team usually comes good social relationships, which are known to be significantly beneficial for mental health. A study carried out by the Economic and Social Research Council has revealed that the feeling of social isolation is a big trigger for mental illness, and that people who have no friends experience more problems with their mental health.
Social relationships are often formed in the workplace, which is why employers should try to facilitate them in the form of team building exercises. Such activities in their very nature are designed to stimulate the blossoming of relationships and bonds.
Team building ideas for the workplace
There are all sorts of team building exercises out there to consider to help create a warm work environment full of hardworking and positive staff. Whether you need ‘get to know you’ style activities for newly formed teams, or trust exercises to help bring people together, consider the benefits of the following ideas.
An effective way to stimulate improved communication and listening between colleagues is to arrange for them to take part in problem-solving exercises. These could include:
- Scavenger hunts
- Escape room
- Murder mystery games
Team building activities such as these will encourage your teams to get to know each other, and will help even the most timid staff member gain confidence.
Another kind of team building technique is to have staff take part in physical challenges that demand collaboration. These could be anything that involves having all team members voice their opinions to get things done;
- Assault courses
- Geese herding
- Raft building
- Survival island games
What skills do team building exercises promote?
In addition to supporting the mental health of employees, team building exercises have many other benefits that are useful at work. You can look forward to happier, healthier staff, as well as a refreshed team that knows how to communicate, innovate, and trust each other. Skills you can expect to develop with team building exercises include:
- Improved collaboration
- Lateral thinking
- Better communication
- People skills
Teams in a workplace usually comprise of different types of people, who might not ordinarily be friends had they not met at work. It’s true that some of the most valuable social relationships are built through employment, so anything an employer can do to stimulate this will have significant advantages. Not only will it bring a team of people close together, it will indirectly support the mental wellbeing of staff.