(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Rapid Teams, a consultancy focused on creating world class learning and team experiences. They believe that team building, and employee engagement are important pieces of the performance puzzle. Enjoy the article!)
I recently read in an eNewsletter from The New York Times that decentralized workforces (i.e. remote or hybrid workforces) can dilute organizational culture. The relationship between company culture and remote work is a huge topic of conversation right now.
Honestly, I do understand that the concept of a hybrid workforce is a big change. And a change that many organizations didn’t think they would be considering. But I don’t know that I’ve completely bought into the idea that the hybrid workforce “dilutes” culture. My thinking aligns more toward this Gartner article that says the hybrid workforce might actually increase employee engagement.
My thought is that organizations can and should change all the time. They change because business dynamics change. Many organizations are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic saying, “We’ve learned things over the past year. Our business can work smarter. We’re going to do business differently.” That’s going to change the business and as a result, change organizational culture. So why is that type of culture change okay, but allowing employees to work remotely not okay?
Create Better Employee Engagement with Team Development
Maybe the answer lies in team development. Regular readers of HR Bartender know that I draw a distinction between team building and team development. Team building is focused on defining roles, goals, and relationships. Team development is focused on mastering the skills to be a good team player. They’re both important and necessary. Building and developing good teams can help with employee engagement and organizational productivity.
This is why I want to share with you a new team action program that I recently learned about. I believe it accomplishes both the team building part and the team development part we’re looking for in terms of employee engagement. The Rapid Team’s Engagement Action Program is a behavioral leadership program disguised as a game. The Program has proven success with global hybrid teams (well before the pandemic). Here’s how it works:
- One week prior to the start of the program, organizational team leaders receive one-on-one coaching and guidance, so they have the tools to support the program.
- Then, participants are divided into sub-teams and tasked with completing “missions” delivered directly via the interactive game app. Missions are a mix of both fun and business-related activities. These include interactive case studies, complex problem-solving challenges, establishing team goals, as well as more lighthearted challenges where employees are encouraged to participate in riddles and photo challenges.
- Missions run daily for 15–20-minutes across 5 days. There are over 100 missions available per team throughout the week and each one has a purpose related to team building and team development.Teams earn points on the live leaderboard as missions are accomplished.
- Each day, the teams will need to navigate how they approach their missions given the combined skills that exist within their team. Some missions can take 30 seconds to complete and may be low scoring, while others require the whole group to tackle a problem-solving challenge which may be worth more points. All activity is logged on a dedicated newsfeed for employees to follow and engage with.
Sounds simple, right?! And it is. That’s part of the beauty of the Program. It’s very easy to explain and happens quickly while not being obvious. The “missions” for day 1 and 2 are focused on self-leadership, days 3 and 4 on leading and influencing others, and day 5 hones in on leading the business. To be successful in the game, teams have to engage in activities such as:
- Deciding when they were going to huddle and agree on the exercises they want to accomplish. Keep in mind with a hybrid and remote workforce, this meant the group figures out how to connect with their co-workers all over the world with various schedules.
- Taking time to learn about each other, so they could make sure that missions were assigned to the right individuals.
- Strategizing and reaching consensus on the best combination of missions to complete, to get the maximum number of points.
- Trusting each other that an individual’s assigned mission would be completed. And if it wasn’t, that the team member would speak up.
- Planning to get their regular work done. Remember – there’s no travel involved with this activity. The mission component takes less than 30 minutes a day, for one week.
A quick side note: I love that these employee engagement activities and case studies have a technology component. As human resources professionals, we talk a lot about the importance of technology. This is a terrific opportunity to build it into learning, not take it away from participants.
Rapid Teams Director and Principal Consultant Angus Firth, shared with me that the Engagement Action Program helps teams set priorities and goals, communicate better, and collaborate. “Recently, a team of 35 completed the program with 100% completion of all missions. This meant there were 568 collaborations within their team over the 5 days, something not achievable through a boring video conferencing meeting. The Program broke down internal silos and provided a platform for learning then ultimately, a change to a more engaged team.”
Regardless of whether we work in an office, hybrid model, or just remotely, organizations want a strong organizational culture. We want employees to collaborate well and work together as a team. After the mission activity is completed, the teams get together for a formal debrief. Personally, I think this is where the culture change piece starts to happen.
Each team has an opportunity to talk about their experience and more importantly, how they plan to use their experience moving forward. It’s those actions that employees will take with them outside of the missions that change culture. Organizations shouldn’t be afraid of that. That’s not diluting culture. It’s enhancing culture. And it can be done with global hybrid teams. In fact, it should be done with global hybrid teams.
Employee Engagement Creates and Maintains Culture
Before organizations decide that their culture can’t survive a hybrid workforce, I think it makes sense to get the workforce involved. Employees maintain the company culture. More accurately, employee engagement maintains company culture.
If you want to learn more about the Engagement Action Program, contact Rapid Teams directly and book a demo of the Engagement Action Program. It’s well worth your time. And while you’re on their website, download a copy of their team alignment tool, “the sailing boat retrospective” activity. It’s a great learning tool you will want to use.
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