Team spirit is not just about feeling better. It’s about performing better.
Team spirit is a term that’s frequently misunderstood. It conjures up memories of high school pep rallies and poor, pep-band-fuelled covers of 80’s pop songs. But team spirit is really about instilling a sense of purpose and pride within your organization, and this leads to employee engagement.Why does that matter? Just consider the very real impact of disengaged workers as measured by the Gallup® organization:

  • The lost productivity of actively disengaged employees costs the North American business economy over $350 BILLION annually. Yes, that’s billion with a capital “B.”
  • 18% of disengaged employees actually undermine their co-workers’ success.
  • 72% of U.S. workers are not engaged in their work. And to be clear, that’s defined as essentially sleepwalking throughout their day.

There are definitely gains to be made from increasing the number of actively engaged employees on your payroll. Just look at Zappos® or the Virgin Group® for examples of what a culture of team spirit does for innovation and growth. In fact, take it from Sir Richard Branson himself. He says, “People are the lifeblood of any company; they need to be looked after and celebrated every now and then.”

Creating a culture of team spirit takes time and effort, but it can lead to big gains as you realize the increased productivity and creativity of an actively engaged workforce. Here are some tips to get you started:

Find out how engaged your people are.

  • Consider conducting your own internal survey. Ask your employees the same twelve questions that the Gallup organization used in its global study and report of employee engagement. Share your results with employees to keep the conversation about engagement going. Give them something to remind them about it, like an aluminum bottle/can opener to symbolize the need to be open. Or a pocket aluminum LED flashlight to represent the need to illuminate the things that cause disengagement. Imprint a key statistic or result on them so it keeps employees thinking about building engagement.
  • Sponsor a Clifton StrengthsFinder® test to identify each employee’s natural abilities. Part of increasing employee engagement is giving them the opportunity to do what they do best, which energizes them and increases their happiness. Consider giving everyone a silicone performance bracelet with his or her own top strength imprinted on it. Encourage employees to pay attention to their colleagues’ respective strengths and look for opportunities to leverage them as a team. Working to their strengths will increase employee engagement, and ultimately make implementing team spirit a whole lot easier.

Now it’s time for some fireworks. Seriously.

  • You’ve done the hard work of measuring employee engagement. You’ve shared the results with everyone, and you have them focused on boosting engagement and leveraging employee strengths. Now it’s time to ignite some real team spirit by giving your organization a shared purpose, like a clear mission statement, to passionately pursue together. Focus their energy with a real William Wallace-style rallying cry. People need to believe that what you’re doing together matters. Take a look at examples from Patagonia® and Zappos® or read our Blue Paper® on team spirit for ideas on how to spread the word and garner internal support. Purpose makes all the difference.
  • Once you have your rallying cry, put it EVERYWHERE. (We put that last word in all caps to communicate that we were totally shouting that last part.) Put your rallying cry in places that give employees an opportunity to share it among themselves, but also with customers and vendors. This is your raison d’être after all. Replace the bottled water in your office with custom-labeled versions that promote your rallying cry so when you offer visitors a beverage, you have an opportunity to share your purpose. Replace all the Post-it® Notes in the office with it as well as a reminder every day.

Team spirit, and the purpose that it brings to an organization, can deliver very solid results of increased productivity and creativity. See what your employees are really capable of. Give them something beyond a paycheque to motivate them to help you change the world!

Employee Engagement.” Canada Human Resource Centre.  Web. 25 Feb. 2013.

Gallup, Inc. The State of the Global Workplace: A Worldwide Study of Employee Engagement and Wellbeing. Publication. Washington, D.C.: Gallup, 2010. Print.

Branson, Richard. “Richard Branson: People Power — the Engine of Any Business. Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur Media, Inc., 29 Sept. 2010. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.

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