Employee cooperation isn’t just about colleagues helping each other out when their workload gets too high, or giving each other a lift home from the pub on alternate Fridays after a busy week in the office. It’s something which runs much deeper, and which can and should become a significant part in the fabric of an organisation.
What’s more (and this is an important point that really shouldn’t be overlooked), it’s something that can inject a whole lot of enjoyment into a workplace… and if there’s one thing we love here at Eventwise, it’s workplaces that know how to play hard as much as they know how to work hard.
The only problem is, employee cooperation - wonderful as it is when up and running - isn’t always the easiest thing to make happen. It’s not something which always arises naturally, and as such, managers and team leaders need to take steps and actions to encourage a cooperative work environment, which leads to collaborative relationships, higher morale, and greater productivity.
The below diagram shows the success factors of collaborative and cooperative organisations.
Why Encourage Employee Cooperation?
Every team leader or office manager asking the question ‘what is employee cooperation?’ will probably discover that it is indeed something which can be challenging to create. The next question - ‘why bother?’ - however, is a simple one to answer.
Cooperating and collaborating teams are, without a shadow of a doubt, highly effective, express greater levels of lasting high morale, and are also considerably more productive.
What’s more, cooperation leads to workplace pride and a sense of achievement, encourages colleague cohesion and greater communicative skills, and these factors alone almost always lead to more impressive results. After all, when you walk into your office, you want to be greeted by the smiles of your friends and colleagues, and feel the warmth of a team that genuinely gets a lot out of working side by side!
When colleagues are friends and communicate well with their colleagues, they work harder, give more to the company, and stay for longer; thus gaining more skills and key experience. Indeed, 67% of workers claim that being friends and collaborating positively with their colleagues will encourage them to stay in an organisation for longer, and the same percentage also claim that close ties with colleagues leads them to perform better at work.
It doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to see why cooperating, collaborating, and communicative employees perform more successfully when it comes to achieving goals together. There are plenty of steps a team leader or member of management can take to encourage this kind of cohesion, and in this article, we’re going to be looking at how to get that ball rolling.
At Eventwise, we’re passionate about giving teams the space and time in which to explore communication and teamwork, and providing the kind of activities and games which create the kind of bonds that make a massive difference once back at work.
Check out, for example, our fantastic Artworks away day - a chance for a team to come together, explore new avenues of communication, produce something truly incredible and deeply creative… and have an absolute ball while doing so. You can bet that sense of connection and team effort continuing throughout the working year, all thanks to a day doing something totally out of the ordinary!
Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to encourage cooperation, and experience the rewards that it brings.
Why Is Employee Cooperation Important?
There are a hundred different reasons why employee cooperation is key to increasing productivity, communication and morale. In essence, the concept boils down to individuals in your company engaging in voluntary communication, identifying problems and acting upon them before they truly manifest, and keeping conflict to a minimum (or at least ensuring that conflicts have positive outcomes). The result? Harmonious workplaces, where individuals feel valued and supported, and have the confidence to express themselves and work proactively and with initiative.
What Influences Employee Cooperation?
As mentioned, taking steps to ensure closer collaborations and free-flowing communication among your colleagues is a fantastic way to promote productivity and morale.
There are many, many factors which can influence cooperation in the workplace - these are perhaps the most significant:
1. Corporate Culture
As the management team, your job is to lead by example. Your staff need to be able to see that leadership works collaboratively and openly, and works together to systematically achieve goals.
We’ve seen time and time again how team building events which break down the hierarchy of the workplace - even just for a day - can really help create fantastic opportunities for deeper collaboration and communication.
Behaviour, ideas, actions and beliefs that determine how employees feel and act. Corporate culture shows how the company’s employees work together and how the staff is treated.
Whether you go for a sushi making course, the collaborative challenge of an escape room, or something totally bonkers is completely up to you… but rest assured, such events are bound to help transform your corporate culture into something considerably more beneficial for all involved.
Employee collaboration is a key factor of corporate culture, and steps must be taken to foster an environment in which employees feel comfortable making their voices heard, and in which they feel valued and supported. The exchange of ideas must be encouraged and rewarded, and the positive results of collaboration must be shared and celebrated each and every time. Communication needs to be put front and centre at all times - indeed, many reports such as this one claim lack of communication is the number 1 complaint employees have about their employers and corporate culture.
In order for employee cooperation to bloom successfully, management needs to lay the groundwork and provide the resources which allow this to happen. This can be something as simple as ensuring the working environment is comfortable and well connected, or using online collaboration portals (such as Slack or Trello) which encourage easy communication.
The overall attitude at the workplace should be one which values input, offers constructive criticism rather than dismissive criticism, and which enables open and free-flowing communication.
The attitude of the management needs to reflect and harmonise with the attitude of the worker, and there needs to be a sense of openness, mutual respect, and balance between the two.
A classic example of imbalance between hierarchies in the workplace is known as the ‘principal-agent problem’. This occurs when one party (the agent) is able to make decisions or take actions which directly affect the other (the principal), which exist to serve the interests of the agent.
If the worker (the principal, in this example) feels that they have access to limited information, resources, or support, they may come to the conclusion that the management, or even members of their own team who place themselves further up in the hierarchy of the team, may not have their best interests at heart. It’s a fairly complex problem which results in a moral dilemma, and is a common cause of mistrust, the withholding of ideas, information, or communication, and poor morale.
4. Conflict Resolution
There’s no such thing as a perfect team. Conflict will arise from time to time in any workplace - you aren’t working with drones, but human beings after all - and it’s important that all conflicts are resolved quickly and satisfactorily.
All workplaces should have systems in place which allow colleagues to report grievances or issues without fear of reprimand, and they should be aware of the policies which assure them that any conflicts will be resolved fairly, and with their best interests at heart.
5. Ongoing Learning
Teamwork and collaboration isn’t something we’re born with, but it is something which can be effectively learned. By sending your colleagues and team members on away days, team building exercises, and teamwork courses, you can be sure they will hone those skills which lead to better cooperation.
Even event days on which your colleagues and team members are learning something totally unconnected to your job can be beneficial. Indeed, learning to make a pizza like an expert requires the same level of teamwork and creativity your staff need in order to excel at their jobs (plus they get a delicious meal at the end of it!)… and that’s exactly why we offer such events to corporate clients up and down the country.
Top Tips for Encouraging Employee Cooperation
So, we’ve outlined the importance of employee cooperation, and we’ve made some suggestions regarding what influences the growth or decline of collaboration. Now it’s time to offer our top tips on how to ensure your team benefits from the well-oiled machine that is a communicative, collaborating workplace!
A Well-Written Policy and Vision or Mission Statement
Clarity is absolutely key when it comes to employees communicating happily, collaborating successfully, and cooperating to achieve a common goal. Make sure your workplace has a well-written company policy, which suggests where or who suggestions, complaints, grievances or ideas can be submitted to, and outlines the goals and milestones you’re all aiming towards. If everyone is crystal-clear on the vision and mission of the workplace, then you should all be able to pull together and steer the company ship to port.
Leadership and Management
Management isn’t about controlling people or telling them what to do - it’s about leading them, inspiring them, and recognising the input of every individual. With effective leadership and leading by example, you should be able to encourage communication and collaboration effectively. This could be as simple as making sure everyone’s on the same page and that their individual skills are being used in the best way. It could even involve just encouraging your team to socialise outside work or after work at the pub, or at a quiz!
Setting Out Realistic Expectations
Does everyone in your team know what their role is, and what is expected of them? If not, you’ll soon have real problems on your hands. In order for your team to work effectively, proactively, and efficiently, they need to have expectations laid out for them, and to know what their job actually involves (and what it doesn’t).
Implement a Culture of Transparent Communication
As mentioned previously, transparency, clarity, and communication are all of the utmost importance. It isn’t enough, though, to stick those words in capital letters on a mission statement: you need to live and breathe this philosophy, and lead by example each and every day.
The below diagram showa five strategies to build greater transparency,
trust and loyalty in the workplace.
Rapid Conflict Resolution
When conflicts arise (and they will arise), it’s important for your company to resolve them rapidly and fairly. There are plenty of different ways to ensure fast conflict resolution - this five step solution is a good one to start with - but the fact of the matter is, it needs to be done in a way which will keep morale high, provide a learning experience, and lead to a positive result for all.
Employee Cooperation: Working Together to Achieve Common Goals
As we’ve seen, understanding what employee cooperation is, how it arises, and how we can encourage it is key for any business which puts the happiness and productivity of their staff first. The results really do speak for themselves, and encouraging communication and good morale is something which countless businesses have benefited from.
At Eventwise, we’ve helped a huge number of companies bring their teams together for fun events aimed at building cohesion, forging relationships, and opening up channels of communication. Our events range from the most sophisticated wine tastings to the craziest days out, treasure hunts, assault courses and more… but they’re all proven to be massively effective at increasing communication, collaboration, and employee cooperation.
With creativity, wit, and a clearly defined goal, it’s truly incredible what can be achieved from just one day out of the office. That’s how we’ve become top-notch providers in the events industry, and if you’re interested in finding out more, we’d love to hear from you soon.