It is well-known that the biggest asset that any company has is its employees.
It is also not a secret that companies that prioritise and invest in their employees’ well-being and development achieve a competitive advantage in comparison to those that do not invest in their employees. The competitive advantage entails better financial performance, higher employee retention and of course, greater innovation and creativity.
However, finding a sure way to successfully manage employees, discover the correct formula to ensure employees' development and well-being, and eliminate work-related stress and toxic environment, is not an easy one when seeking a long-term solution.
Many companies use team-building processes to improve relationships among employees and some use mediation processes for dispute resolution and dealing with a toxic environment in the workplace to manage employees’ well-being and development.
We have successfully mediated many disputes and helped companies deal with a toxic environment in the workplace.
Mediation and team building have the same goal by using processes to build a team that cohesively works together towards a common goal. The aim of both processes is to create a robust team by forming a strong bond and connection between them and their direct managers.
However, neither can offer a comprehensive and long-lasting solution to ensuring the elimination of work-related tension and a toxic environment.
Mediation is one of many very effective tools in addressing disputes or toxic environments.
Team building is effective only if all employees participate and the events successfully build connections among employees. Although team-building activities are there to improve relationships, forcing team members to work closely could exacerbate underlying tensions or create new ones needing resolution after the team-building activities. Additionally, exercises that involve competition may inadvertently foster a too-intense competitive spirit resulting in conflicts that need resolution.
Both processes have their merit but are unable to provide a comprehensive solution to successfully managing work-related stress and employees' well-being and development.
So, is there a holistic approach that can guarantee employee well-being and development success?
In my opinion, the only way for a company to ensure the employees' well-being and development success is by using a combination of team building and mediation.
How can this be achieved?
Companies need first to identify any tension between employees and whether there is a toxic environment in any department. Secondly, companies need to hold a mediation meeting to air out and deal with work-related tension and toxic environment before embarking on any team building activities. The mediator could then suggest team-building activities and ask them what activities they think could help build stronger bonds and connections within the team.
The company can then hold a team-building event.
I further suggest holding another mediation meeting to discuss the effectiveness of the activities held and how these can be improved next time. If any changes are proposed by the company or the employees to improve relationships, these also can be discussed in the mediation meeting.
And I would not stop here.
Twelve months after the team building activities, and the mediation meetings, I would hold another mediation meeting to review whether the mediation and the team building have worked long-term. I would check that there is no longer tension or a toxic environment in any department.
I would ensure that all employees are working in a safe environment and that they know the company is taking employees' well-being and development seriously. Indeed, improving relationships at work is a continuous process and there is no one-off solution.
Work-related relationships are the same as any other relationship – they require nurturing and are imperative in ensuring a positive and productive workplace.
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