At the start of every year Crown Workforce Management hosts a ‘company kick-off’ – a weekend when staff and their ‘significant others’ are invited to a luxury hotel for a combination of work and pleasure. The business – a review and plan for the year ahead – is undertaken on the Saturday while partners can enjoy the hotel facilities or local attractions before coming together for a celebration dinner, entertainment and overnight stay.
It’s our way of saying thank-you to colleagues but achieves so much more. We have fun together and work together. The company kick-off reinforces a sense of oneness at a key time of the year when new challenges lie ahead. Essentially, it’s about team building.
So, why is New Year the ideal time for team building? We asked expert Nick Gallagher-Hughes, of D-Cubed Consultancy, to highlight why the end of festivities can be a useful springboard.
- New Year, new start. Whether it’s ‘Veganary’, ‘Dry January’, a new diet or exercise regime, the start of a new calendar year is the perfect time for fresh starts. People can be resolute in their personal goals and aspirations but it is easier to stay on track with support. The workplace is the ideal environment for this – acknowledging individual goals and making them shared ones can encourage a sense of ‘team’, helping people connect with colleagues and encourage ‘wellness’ aims which has a practical HR benefit. Using staff engagement channels to assess and establish wellness activity will assist their take-up. Simple practical measures can demonstrate seasonal initiatives. Why not add a vegan choice to the canteen menu, start a lunchtime walking club, introduce a ‘fruity Friday’ providing fresh fruit instead of calorie-laden snacks?
- Eliminating ‘social jet lag’. Returning to work after the festive break can be hard. It’s important to recognise that the New Year blues can affect employees and their effectiveness in the workplace. Evidence of ‘social jet lag’ – the return to a normal routine after a fortnight of excess and irregular sleep patterns, can be all too apparent, manifesting itself in a lack of energy and general fatigue. Instigating team building in the New Year can help with this – providing a focus and encouraging positive mental attitude sparked by a team dynamic.
- A chance to take stock and plan. A new year brings new beginnings but its important to consider what’s gone before, what worked well and not so well in the previous 12-month? Involving your staff in this process is vital to draw in a range of perspectives from around the business.? An ‘off-site’ event can facilitate this, providing a neutral environment to express and share opinions. It can also provide the opportunity to focus minds on ‘bigger picture’ business priorities, spurring creative and critical thinking and encourage teams to produce action plans to meet corporate objectives.
- Involve and empower. Encouraging team building at different levels – organisational, departmental or working teams is essential to encourage a sense of shared purpose and cohesive working. Starting at the top – an organisational event or senior managers meeting can kick-start the process, identify requirements and timescales for further activity (such as action plans). This will help create momentum and opportunities for engagement from strategic to tactical application.
- New Year’s honours. The start of year is also a pivotal moment to acknowledge the achievements of the past year. Whether or not you have a formal rewards and recognition programme or acknowledge personal contributions to team goals through a more informal route, a ‘review of the year’ can tease out and establish best practice with can be adopted as best practice.
Said Nick: “Team building is integral to organisational development and encourages improvements to performance by building effective working relationships, aligning objectives and proactively finding solutions to problems.
“Initiating a team-building process at the start of a new year can bring a renewed sense of purpose and vigor to a team and encourage greater productivity.”