“Team building to us as a company, and to me as a HR professional, is more than just organising an activity or programme,” says Lim Teng Teng, regional director of HR at SCIEX.
“To me, it is an overall look into everything employees do. It should include both activities for team building and things that are built into the employee’s performance and built into the company’s objectives.”
As such, as a company wide initiative, once a year, SCIEX holds an annual kick-off meeting by region – China, Japan, India and the rest of Asia which includes Singapore and Malaysia among others – to bring its employees together, share about what the company has done, what is going on and what it will do moving forward as well to set the direction for the year.
“Besides the company providing the direction to the employees, we also hear from the employees about any of the queries they have as well as what they think we should look into,” Lim says.
The organisation also has a number of team building activities during the annual kick-off meeting. Its behavioural competency programme called the leadership anchors was rolled out to the company via the team building activities to further impart the knowledge of what it is about using various team building games and programmes.
As such, the focus of each year’s team building programmes depends on what is emphasised for that year.
After the team building programmes were implemented, SCIEX’s manufacturing plant in Singapore saw a double-digit improvement in the engagement survey.
Other than that, SCIEX holds a quarterly all-hands meeting, which can be in the the form of physical meetings where everyone is present in one location or it can be in the form of virtual meetings via conference calls and video calls.
During the meetings, other than the usual business updates, some countries will have half a day of team building exercises either on-site (in the office) or off-site.
To ensure that teamwork continues after these activities, apart from individual objectives, SCIEX sets department objectives as well as company objectives for its employees. Additionally, incentives such as bonuses will also be measured on company goals on top of the staff’s individual goals.
“I feel that all these have to be aligned together before you can build the team,” Lim says.
To avoid the challenges of low participation rates, most of SCIEX activities start off being held during office hours.
However, Lim notes that when holding events during office hours, planning in advance is very important and it will notify employees about such events at least a few weeks in advance.
As its employees gradually find the events help them in various ways – understanding the business direction and being able to communicate better – they become more willing to attend.
“Thereafter, even when we have the events out of office hours (for example, our regional service meeting is on Sunday), because of all the positive feedback they have heard about the events, employees are willing to attend them,” Lim says.
To SCIEX, a good way of measuring the success of these events is through employee engagement surveys.
For example, after these programmes were implemented, “in the manufacturing plant in Singapore, we had a double-digit improvement in the engagement survey”.
For more case studies from foodpanda, Grey Group, IKEA and Singapore Airlines, and tips to create your very own team building programme, head over to the Human Resources’ January-February feature.