Continuous improvement: Why teamwork and collaboration drive worker engagement

Research has found that just 16% of workers consider themselves “fully engaged” in their jobs, with a massive 84% of employees defining themselves as simply “just coming to work.” However, both employees and companies benefit from workers being fully engaged, so how can businesses turn this around?

What is a “fully engaged” worker? Fundamentally, it is someone who likes their job and is connected to their company. They know what is going on with the company and its brand and how it is perceived in the marketplace. They are well connected in the organization, are engaged with the company strategy and can contribute to it.

Fully-engaged workers demonstrate proactivity and like to contribute more. They are hands-on in sharing their ideas and efforts with others, are influential and can inspire others. They have a fundamental economic effect on a company, too. In the U.S. alone, actively disengaged employees can cost business around $500 billion in lost productivity each year.

The power of teamwork

Worker engagement increases markedly when employees are able to work together in teams and collaborate regularly. The ADP Research Institute surveyed over 19,000 workers and found that feeling part of a team is a massive factor in employee engagement: those employees who felt like members of a team were more than twice as likely to be fully engaged.

Similarly, research by McKinsey also found that the most engaged workers are those who work in teams. They are twice as likely to be fully engaged as people who work on their own.

How do you get employees engaged?

If teamwork drives worker engagement, what then should companies do to foster teamwork and improve engagement? One of my firm beliefs is that collaboration is essential to teamwork, thereby creating greater employee engagement and improving the business overall.

Getting employees engaged is a multi-stage process. Collaboration tools help you be better organized as a company: if one of your teams has a specific task to perform as a group, they can just jump in and collaborate together and get it done. It might be writing a proposal or creating a presentation, it doesn’t matter – unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) tools facilitate the acceleration of a task or project. This is the base level, stage one.

The second stage is using UC&C tools to create relationships within project teams. Collaborating and driving teamwork gives workers the chance to acquire additional skills and learn from people in your team by collaborating. And, by developing yourself, you also develop the group.

The third stage is that by learning from others, sharing things with colleagues, you benefit in general as a worker and become more satisfied in your job.

There is a clear link between job satisfaction and greater productivity: a report a few years ago found that greater happiness in the workplace created a 12% increase in productivity, while unhappy workers proved to be 10% less productive.

A Deloitte survey of 3,600 European workers found that they are up to 20% more satisfied with their workplace culture when they have access to collaboration tools that enable them to work in teams. The impact of this teamwork and collaboration is greater engagement – workers in the same survey said they are 34% happier with their workplace when collaboration and innovation are encouraged.

Teamwork and engagement are effectively a progression: there are layers of maturity that deliver varying results. Basic collaboration evolves into advanced, proactive collaboration to create workers who share ideas, innovate and become fully engaged in their jobs. They benefit and so does the company.

And what should you not do?

Don’t try and deploy collaboration without a plan. You can’t just throw UC&C tools at workers and expect them to become more engaged – it doesn’t work like that. If you want to grow collaboration and teamwork in your company in order to reap the benefits of more engaged employees, the days of thinking technology alone is the answer are long gone.

Through our work with clients, we have found that it is not just about the technology or the amount of money you spend on collaboration tools, it is about how you get your workers to use it in a meaningful way. Set up adoption programs for the tools, monitor the user experience and then review how people are using the tools and what benefits they get from them.

If you deploy collaboration tools without an adoption strategy in place and just expect teamwork and engagement to happen, usage will actually drop. Deploying tools, monitoring, evaluating, promoting usage to workers…it’s an ongoing cycle, not a one-off project.

The tech is the enabler. It must be flexible enough to allow you to include add-ons, if required, to deliver a richer end-user experience, but it is just a tool. Ultimately, the culture you foster in your company is central to success, while the UC&C tools are the enabler. If you are successful, the result is fully-engaged employees working in teams to drive greater productivity and business benefits.

Orange can help you improve your company’s productivity by unleashing the potential of your teams. We work with unified communications and collaboration tools, like MS Teams and Cisco Webex Teams, to help your workers chat, post information, share, see and work with each other over video and conferencing. Learn more about how UC&C tools can help your workers be more engaged.

Stephane Minana
Stephane Minana

Stephane is a Unified Communications Solution Director covering solution positioning, business development and go-to-market strategies for the European theater. He has extensive knowledge of many facets of the IT industry through his experience working for consulting firms, vendors and IT and telecom service providers.

Stephane has been with Orange Business in Amsterdam since 2008 and has engaged in several service incubation and business development programs for security, consulting, enterprise application management, and in the last three years, unified communications.