There are many aspects to a successful workplace, but organizations often forget the impact that employee collaboration can have on the bottom line.
After all, your people are the lifeblood of your organization and are key to overall business growth and work culture.
Of course, this is also one of the more challenging parts of business especially with a growing organization filled with various teams, different departments, interests and cultural backgrounds, and office locations.
And as remote work continues to increase in popularity, collaboration can be difficult to consistently maintain and build upon.
This is why building successful collaboration in the workplace is more critical than ever before. Okay, but what are the true benefits of employee collaboration? And how can your organization build a collaborative environment that employees will love?
86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. (Salesforce)
- Benefits of Employee Collaboration
- Tips to Build Employee Collaboration
- Employee Collaboration Statistics
Benefits of Employee Collaboration
Granted, you are on this post and are probably already valuing employee collaboration. However, do you know all the benefits it can have on your organization?
Perhaps the benefits of employee collaboration is news to you, or maybe you’re looking to start from scratch with a workplace collaboration strategy. Regardless of your experience with the topic, let’s quickly explore why collaboration in the workplace is so valuable.
- More Engaged Employees – collaboration helps employees feel connected to their company and colleagues. They become more enthusiastic about their work, new projects, and their company.
- Improved Company Morale – When employees are enjoying working with their colleagues, leadership supports and implements their ideas, overall company morale and enthusiasm increases.
- Increase Productivity – improving productivity means higher quality of work and better effectiveness rates. This can improve various areas of the company. When teams are using the proper tools and collaboration processes it makes everything align better.
- Attracts More Top Talent – When employee collaboration is strong, it helps build brand advocates: people who support the company, talk about their work, and show thought leadership.This culture becomes more relatable to outside audiences and helps attract top talent looking to work with teams exhibiting strong work culture.
- Improve Go-To Market – When there is a collaborative culture, your company can bring new products and services to the general market faster. Since there is an emphasis on teamwork and communication, the entire process and production goes much faster without a reduction in quality.
- More Innovation – No employee collaboration process is perfect, but one area where it really helps businesses is innovation. Not everyone will have unique ideas, but everyone has various experiences that can be utilized to help innovation. It can help your organization continue to stay ahead of the competition and continue to provide stellar products or services.
- Adoption Moves Faster – When your company launches new initiatives or brings on new technology, processes, etc. — adoption from your people moves quickly with less challenges. Adoption becomes seamless when teams have established internal communication channels that best enable collaboration.
- Communications Improves – people become more receptive and open with each other, with managers, and the company overall. Important information is disseminated and nothing gets sequestered in any particular silo or team.
39% of surveyed employees believe that people in their own organization don’t collaborate enough. (Queens University)
How to Build Successful Collaboration in the Workplace
Building a more collaborative work environment is not something that happens overnight.
Whether you are starting completely fresh or looking to improve your current employee collaboration strategy, making an organizational effort will be huge for the business and its employees.
Below you’ll find some tips and the best practices and ideas to boost collaboration in the workplace and to better streamline work productivity.
Make collaboration a part of culture
One of the most challenging things to do within an organization is to alter work culture. It can be done, it just takes time for new ideas and values to sync with everyone. But getting the idea of teamwork and collaboration built into the culture helps create a tight knit work environment.
With a culture of collaboration in place everyone in the company knows what to expect. Leadership values people working together, and new hires will understand the value of working together and interdisciplinary cooperation from day one.
This means leadership pushes toward the collaborative mindset with their teams, valuing feedback and ideas, and including other departments to work together.
Additionally, when on-boarding new hires there should be readily available information about how employee collaboration is a key aspect to everyday work life.
Stop wasteful meetings
All too often, departments get bogged down in meetings after meetings. Typically, this can cause productivity to drop and important project flows to be disrupted. And look, meetings are inevitable and can be effective when done right.
Instead, there should be a focus on “smart meetings” that improve efficiency and happen less often to reduce wasting time on things that could easily be communicated without having to schedule a time slot together.
It might sound counterintuitive considering collaboration can happen in meetings too, but your organization and individual teams need to find the right balance.
- Evaluate why a meeting might be necessary and if so, make a simple agenda and be sure to prepare adequate time for the get-together to be organized.
- Ensure everyone clearly understands what their role is in the meeting, what questions or issues they would like to discuss and solve.
- Take a listening approach and allow feedback to be absorbed by everyone. It’s easy to tune out things that might not relate specifically to you, but by not prioritizing listening you could be missing out on feedback and ideas that impact your work.
- Agree upon company norms for meeting discourse: is it okay to interrupt a meeting 5-minutes before it ends in order to ensure the next group of people has the room for their own meeting? Should the speaker always be identified with an object that they pass around when yielding the floor so to speak? As silly as it may sound, establishing these kinds of communication norms can greatly increase information efficiency, reduce flow distraction, and foster unprecedented collaboration in the workplace.
Not everyone will agree on everything when collaborating, but everyone should be understanding and hear each other instead of just waiting to disagree or opine the final word devoid of consensus.
Implement the right technologies
70% of employees attribute enhanced collaboration to digital technologies. Of course, there are also a lot of distractions and digital noise out there, so your company needs to find the right balance.
Which technologies are implemented will also vary based on your needs and how your team currently works. But because your employees are scattered within offices, potentially globally, or work remotely altogether — in person meetings aren’t always possible or (as stated in the previous tip) aren’t always necessary.
Improving collaboration and engagement is critical and some options you might already have in place include:
- Traditional Intranet: Sharing information, collaboration tools, operational systems, and other computing services within an organization, which typically excludes anyone from outside the company to have access. These are a bit old school, but may still be used today.
- Video conference: There are many in this category that could be used like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, Google, etc. All of these tools are used for collaborative video meetings and conferences in order to stay connected, wherever employees are working.
- Internal Social Networking: These solutions fuel content creating and communications for internal use, but can exclude content (blog posts, media, etc.) for engagement and sharing by employees. Also helps knowledge sharing, company updates, and keeps employees connected wherever they are working. Typically desktop and mobile applications. Employee advocacy platforms (i.e. EveryoneSocial) are used for this and more.
- Messaging software: This grew in popularity more recently but there are various players in this field with different features. Common ones include Slack, Workplace by Facebook, Front, and many more. (I’m still waiting to see an established startup or corporation use Discord, but as of now it’s just user community preference).
These technologies will help employees connect with one another, wherever they are currently located and working.
Again, you want to find that delicate balance of increasing productivity and collaboration with communication tools without creating distractions from employee workflows.
Accept ideas and feedback from all departments
If your organization wants to fully embrace employee collaboration, that means accepting ideas and feedback without defensive criticism — wherever it comes from. This is the culture of innovation that Steve Jobs spoke of, and that Marc Benioff the CEO of Salesforce swears by.
When there is open dialogue, discussions, and ideas that are attributed to those who brought them to attention, people trust the culture and their company. This can encourage more people to speak up, connect, and engage more often with one another.
Besides showing that you want a collaborative workplace, you need to implement ideas that come from the team’s work as well. Seeing is believing, so besides talking about employee collaboration your organization needs to take action too.
Don’t just talk about collaboration, walk it too!
People should not be afraid to speak up or hesitate to share their insights. Even if the idea or what they share is common sense or ultimately not an idea worth pursuing, everyone should still be open without the fear of being belittled or criticized harshly.
Empathy is the key, and for good reason you also hear that word when it comes to marketing and sales.
Employee Collaboration Statistics
Before we wrap this post up, I wanted to share some interesting employee collaboration statistics. After all, I love seeing the data that puts value on doing something or concrete validation of “why” a process or strategy should be focused on.
While I did sprinkle in a few stats earlier in this post, I figured a collection of some others might interest you. Check them out below:
- About 75% of employers rate team work and collaboration as “very important”, yet only 18% of employees get communication evaluations at their performance reviews. (Queens University)
- 49% of Millennials support social tools for workplace collaboration. (Queens University)
- Up to 80 percent of businesses use social collaboration tools for enhancing business processes. (McKinsey)
- 33% of employees say the ability to collaborate makes them more loyal. (SmallBiz)
- 54% of employees say a strong sense of community (great coworkers, celebrating milestones, a common mission) kept them at a company longer than was in their best interest. (Gusto)
- 33% of employees said a lack of open, honest communication has the most negative impact on employee morale. (Recruiter)
- According to an Alfresco survey of more than 753 business professionals, it was found that nearly 83% of professionals depend on technology to collaborate. 82% of the participants also felt that they would feel impacted if this technology to collaborate was lost. (Alfresco)
- Use of social software by employees can improve productivity by 20-25%. (McKinsey)
- 70% of employees attribute enhanced collaboration to digital technologies. (FinancesOnline)
For collaboration in the workplace to happen, employees need to feel trusted, that their ideas and feedback matters, and that they can be accepted by their peers.
If employees do not feel comfortable or if they are uninspired by their work, company, or leaders, and lack the tools to be successful — collaboration is easily lost.
Your organization needs to build a culture of collaboration and take the necessary steps to ensure that disciplinary silos and isolated departments are not institutionalized, as establishing communication barriers within any organization will always be a hindrance to collaboration in the workplace.
Finding the right balance of strategy, process, and technology will ensure your workplace continues to thrive with employees excited to work together and help each other win.