A feeling of connection can improve your health, reduce your likelihood of suffering from substance abuse or some forms of mental illness, and even increase your longevity.
We spend long hours and give our best at work, but that doesn't mean we are good at forging strong connections there. People who feel connected are more likely to be motivated to do their best, to have a positive attitude, and to stay at your organization. Turnover is expensive and a negative environment can poison your entire team.
Sometimes all it takes to shift the connectedness in your team is getting to know each other and have some shared experiences. Ditch the happy hour and dedicate an hour or two to something fun! In my former firm, the best thing we ever did, which became an annual tradition, was "Movie Day." We brought breakfast foods potluck style and piled into the senior partner's office first thing in the morning to watch "The Manchurian Candidate" (the original) after he learned a member of our staff had never heard of it. That was a wrong that just had to be righted! The next year brought a double feature: one pick by the senior partner and one by the junior associates. For that morning, calls went to voicemail and everyone in the firm was included. This event cost virtually nothing beyond a few billable hours and gave everyone in the office a shared experience and a bit of a bond. It was frankly amazing the level of camaraderie that was built watching a couple of movies.
The possibilities for alcohol-free teambuilding experiences are endless: game tournaments, a book club, an improv night, visiting a nearby museum, running or softball or other sports, even a regular brown bag or bring-your-takeout lunch table.
What does your firm do to connect and socialize other than happy hour? Share your experiences and your ideas!