Organizational and Individual Benefits of Teams

why teamsThe use of formal work teams is commonplace in modern organizations. But why we have teams? What are the benefits or advantages that teams provide for organizations and employees? Do we really need to adopt formal team structures and use team-building approaches in organizations? Read this article to explore and learn benefits of having formal teams in organizations.

There exist several organizational and individual benefits of using teams. These include increased workplace productivity; improvements to product/service quality; a reduced management structure; lower levels of absenteeism; reduced employee turnover; and increased industrial harmony, with all these benefits ultimately leading to improved workplace performance. It also enhances quality of work life (QWL) for employees and leads to increased work satisfaction. Teams are found in many workplace environments, including corporate, government and education, because they allow the organization to:

Organizational Benefits of Teams:

1. Workplace Productivity: Having structured teams eliminate problems, waste and errors by removing variation in the work system by bringing individuals together to resolve work-system problems. The removal of variation in the work system produces a more productive system. Teams ensure that the work continues in the absence of a human ‘part’ by building ‘redundancy of parts’. This ensures that they system will not malfunction due to absenteeism of any individual employee and will continue to perform without interruptions. Hence the organizations adopting team structures will have a higher level of labor productivity than firms that do not have these team structures.

2. Product/Service Quality: As teams function to remove variation from a work system, resulting in the output being consistent and reliable. For example, in a production line work structure, employees focus on their individual ‘part’ in the system with quality generally inspected at the end of the production line. In case of teams, a group of workers attends to whole tasks thereby ‘empowering’ such workers to take responsibility for their work and adjust work processes to improve the quality of their output. Hence the quality gets effectively ‘built-in’ to the process and therefore the organizations adopting team structure will gain higher levels of product/service quality than firms that do not have these team structures.

3. Lower Cost Management Structures: By having teams, the responsibility for resolving work problems becomes collective and there is less need for external supervision. This reduced need for external supervision may result in a reduced number of levels in the hierarchy.

4. Lower Absenteeism: Team structures provide an increased level of autonomy and responsibility and employees enjoying the social structure of teams are more likely to attend work. Thus, organizations with team structures will have lower absenteeism than firms that do not have these team structures.

5. Employee Turnover: As with absenteeism, the social structure of teams is reported to positively impact employee turnover. If quality of work life is improved for employees when teams are present then a reduction in employee turnover is a likely outcome.

6. Industrial Harmony: Teams actively encourage employees to present the results of problem analysis to management for approval regarding proposed solutions and this encourages improved labor–management interactions. Hence teams enable employees to have a closer working relationship with management which enables firms with these team structures to have a higher level of industrial harmony than firms that do not have these team structures.

7. Accomplish Big/Complicated Tasks: Many organizational tasks and projects are too huge for an individual to do independently. Having team structures ensure that individual geniuses of the persons are collectively used and mammoth tasks are completed.

8. Brainstorm More Solution Options: Different people looking at the same problem will find different solutions. A team can review ideas and put together a final solution which incorporates the best individual ideas. They can generate commitment for the final solution and work together to collectively pursue the same.

9. Review/Detect Flaws: A team looking at different proposed solutions may also be in a better position to catch pitfalls that an individual might miss. This ensures that the final solution is much stronger and qualitative.

10. Build a Workplace Community: Members of effective teams can form personal bonds which are good for individual and workplace morale. In the organizational setting, employees on teams may form bonds which extend beyond the work-place.

Individual Benefits of Teams:

1. Diversity: Team structures provide exposure to different points of view. As the employees gets exposed to methods and ideas that others have, they learn different ways of approaching a problem.

2. Enhanced Communication Skills: Through teamwork training and practice, employees learn to actively and effectively listen to their team members to understand their view points and concerns. A member need to effectively articulate his ideas or your concerns to others to ensure they are taken care of or addressed. Members get genuine constructive feedback from each other and develop presentation, negotiating and other related communication skills.

3. Critical Thinking and Evaluation Skills: Team members must use these skills to evaluate the complex issues of team project goals and to formulate appropriate solutions and plans.

4. Conflict Resolution Skills: Where there exists diversity of ideas, there will naturally exist conflicts, but, with the right support and training in communication skills, team members can learn the skills to facilitate solutions to conflicts so that the team remains functional.

5. Higher Moral/Less Stress: When things on the team are functioning well, it often results in higher moral and less stress at a personal level. Teams provide social support to team members and they can take help from each other in case of complex issues or other workplace related problems.

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