How Managers Are Building Team Cohesion Through Joy

BY Kathy Crosett
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Marie Kondo drew headlines when she advised us that we can find joy in life by reducing clutter at home. Is it also possible to take specific actions to find joy at work? And is that an emotional state managers can achieve by building team cohesion? These questions are worth asking as members of Gen Z continue to enter the workforce with their unique vision of corporate culture.

Building Team Cohesion Through Joy

The research on joy at work is grim. A survey published in the Harvard Business Review finds that while 90% of us hope to find joy at work, only 37% do. However, the people who are happy at work have a few factors in common. They

  • Understand their roles and those of their co-workers
  • Feel a bond with team members
  • Have a chance to use their talents
  • Feel what they are doing is critical
  • Realize their shared success is celebrated

How can you create this type of environment at your organization? Alex Liu suggests that team members can find joy when a combination of “harmony, impact and acknowledgment” exists.

Let’s take a look at what that means.

Team Building Events

Part of having fun at work means connecting with co-​workers. With many companies still balancing a workforce that includes hybrid and remote employees, some team members may not know each other very well. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, Gallup research shows that only 17% of employees currently have a best friend at work. This dismal number means great employees may leave their company to find one that puts more emphasis on workforce happiness.

This number also leads managers to try to build team cohesion through events such as a shared lunch hour. They should realize these events don’t work very well without active management. Otherwise, the in-​office people are likely to chat amongst themselves, while the offsite people find it challenging to break in during this type of Zoom session. However, if managers assign employees to specific teams and give them a game or challenge to work on during this time period, the interaction will be more focused and inclusive.

Meaningful Tasks

According to Deloitte Digital’s recent survey on Gen Z, certain factors make them “more likely to look forward to coming to work.”  Younger employees seek “autonomy and ownership” in their jobs. While many managers recognize that Gen Zers want agency at work, they might not understand exactly what that means. 

One way to gain necessary insight into the motivations of your Gen Z employees is to require them to take a psychometric assessment. Using those results, you can craft assignments that will appeal to them. If possible, set up an open-​ended project that allows your Gen Z team members to tap into their creativity and to develop ways for your organization to generate revenue. Giving your Gen Zers a chance to work together also strengthens team cohesion, especially when you design projects that allow each individual to use their core strengths. This approach, when successful, addresses the need for harmony, a key element leading to joy.

Critical Tasks and Acknowledgement

Team members want to know that what they are doing makes a difference. If they’re working on a rocket launch, they’ll know their algorithm scores when the rocket successfully delivers the payload into orbit. Other team members, the employees who are writing press releases about the event or pitching investors, need to understand their role matters too.

Don’t let much time pass before praising employees for completing a project.  While individual praise is important, solicit input from the team about what they’d like to do to celebrate together. A few hours spent outside the office environment and free from the pressures of working on a project mean everyone will have a chance to bond.

Going forward, don’t be afraid to change things up, especially for team members who appreciate variety in their tasks and want challenges. Bruce Feiler explains that the “average worker goes through a moment of disruption, revaluation or reinvention every two and a half years.” You can retain these workers by strengthening team cohesion and creating projects that are designed to increase joy.

Photo by Alena Darmel on Pexels.