Employee motivation is vital in the workplace. And whilst businesses attempt to incentivise their hard-working employees with bonuses, one-off team building activities or promotions as reward or encouragement - the results don’t always play out as desired. In fact, one in five Australians (21%) have taken time off work due to feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, according to The Australian Bureau of Statistic's National Mental Health and Well-Being Survey (2007) (1). Burnout, described by Rachel Clements, Director of Psychological Services at the 'Centre for Corporate Health', is when “the person must have three components: they are emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted” and it attributable to long working hours, lack of breaks and unrealistic deadlines imposed (2).
Due to the stigma surrounding burnout; employees view burnout as a reflection of their weakness or incompetence, struggling employees feign cold and flu symptoms in exchange for sick days and the problem is left unsolved. Whilst in majority of cases the employee is neither, the lack of dialogue between employer and employee promotes a vicious cycle of dire consequences on both work and home life.
The onus therefore, is on the employer. In an effort to curb burnout plague in the office, employers should attempt to establish trust and open communication, which is easier said than done, especially when dealing with staff, who, most likely burdened with shame or embarrassment, shy in-front of respective bosses.
An alternative to lending an ear or offering support which forcibly and uncomfortably needles out responses, employers can seek to open up dialogues with vexed employees via a group workshop. A group activity has the potential to introduce colleagues to a stress-free environment which promotes bonding, establishing or regaining trust in one another.
Project Management, Training and Communication Specialist Anna Keavney from ‘Elemental Projects’ advises employers lay out objectives for team building events beforehand, such as seeking to resolve conflict, boost morale, enhance productivity, develop skills or improve team communication. Anna similarly recommends investing time in activities centred around communication and problem solving, which are designed to enhance teamwork, task-associated skills, emotional intelligence and subsequently drive productivity in the workplace, rather than those limited to ‘fun’ (3).
Team building activities, intended to be entertaining and worthwhile, often and unfortunately, err on the side of awkwardness. Activities are filled with unamused employees, preoccupied with thoughts of all the work yet to be finished as they attempt to solve comical group tasks. And whilst building cup towers are fun for some, the lack of seriousness hurts the desired outcome: improving co-worker relations and general work ethic. You can see fun virtual team building activity ideas here.
ClassBento offers an alternative, replacing cup tower building with genuine workshops headed by professionals from a variety of fields, including chefs, artists and craftsmen, to promote bonding between colleagues. Embark on a Japanese ‘Superfood Sushi’ class with Yoshiko Takeuchi, who has frequented some of the top kitchens in Sydney and authored two health-food cook books. Experiment and taste top quality Japanese ingredients, following traditional methods replicable at home. Form mounds of sushi rice, create nigiri and nori rolls whilst sipping on Japanese tea. Alternatively, embrace the art of ‘mixology’ or cocktail making workshop with bars like Della Hyde or The Roosvelt. Mix, muddle and shake alongside colleagues outside the office environment, whip up Cosmos, Margaritas and Mojitos to drink and prepare at future events. Here's a full list of our You can see all our team building workshops.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results 2007.
- Corporation, Australian Broadcasting. “ABC Health & Wellbeing.” Surviving Stress at Work - Health & Wellbeing, ABC, 14 July 2010.
- Keavney, Anna. Team building strategies. Training & Development, Vol. 43, No. 2, Apr 2016: 26-28.