How to Improve Team Cohesion in Your Workplace

Image: Stephan Lorse

Image: Stephan Lorse

Teams can’t attain their full potential unless their members work together. And because no two persons have the same temperament or views on everything, there’s always a chance that employees on the same team will be at odds with each other at least a few times.

This isn’t a problem in itself. It only becomes a big concern if it negatively impacts the effectiveness of team members at work.

When disagreements over certain aspects of work aren’t managed or resolved, they can degenerate into conflict. These conflicts are often stressful for the parties involved and may keep them from devoting enough attention to tasks assigned to them.

The Psychological Effects of a Disunited Team

Differences within teams can manifest as persistent passive aggression, bullying, and other forms of psychological abuse. Some employees may experience unwarranted criticisms, hostile reception, or exemptions from critical decisions making that their roles suggest they should be a part of.

Businesses are prone to these issues when they pay little or no attention to the psychological safety of their employees. Psychologically safe work environments place a premium on the mental wellbeing of their workers by ensuring each employee has the chance to share their ideas in a respectful and supportive environment. These workplaces encourage alternative viewpoints and the discussion of failure in a transparent and constructive way.

Forward-looking organisations are adopting technologies that allow them to support their employees’ mental health. Proactive and early intervention Employee Assistance Programs, like Uprise, enable companies to detect and offer timely support for workers’ psychological challenges before they reach are in crisis. By supporting individual employees, these programs simultaneously support the cohesion of teams.

5 Tips on Improving Team Cohesion

If you’re an employer, you could follow these tips to ensure that your team maintains a good degree of harmony, while allowing employees the mental space they need to thrive on the job.

Encourage Communication

image: Bene

image: Bene

When there are open communication lines between employees and the management hierarchy, workers tend to perceive that they are free to volunteer their ideas or tell their managers about their concerns. This helps employees to feel that they are a part of the organisation. As a result, they will be eager to contribute more to discussions and feel more engaged and motivated in their role.

Communication like this should be made a part of regular performance review. Once there are clear goals that individuals are working towards in a team, discuss their progress, success and barriers in a transparent way. This helps orient other team members and air grievances early on. It can be really useful to encourage team members to share something they have appreciated from another team member in the past few weeks.

Train Managers to Deal with in-Team Frictions

Image: Olga P

Image: Olga P

Managers can’t deal with intra-team conflicts and their effects on members of their teams if they themselves feel stressed and don’t know how or when to intervene. It’s always a good idea to have them trained in psychological safety and conflict resolution so that they are equipped to handle these situations when they arise.  

Companies looking to train their managers and employees in psychological safety can do so using the Uprise EAP. This includes techniques such as reflective listening, starting a conversation and crisis management.

The Uprise EAP includes UpSkill and Mental Health Awareness Training for Managers, that equips managers to identify and support team members who may be struggling with mental health issues.  Book a demo to learn more!

Find Humane Ways to Discuss Failure

Image: Bonie Varghese

Image: Bonie Varghese

When teams or team members fail, most managers find it difficult to discuss and improve upon for future tasks. Yet this is a critical time where an employee may decide to leave the company if they feel blamed or like burden on the group.

After a failure, it is important that the teams work together to identify what led to the failure. This may be inadequate training, poor communication, disagreements or lack of resources. By identifying a range of factors rather than singling out one employee or action, it brings the team closer together and reduces the likelihood of the same mistake happening again.

Many experts now say that the best way to handle the success-failure talk within organisation is to analyse every result, empathise with their team members, and help them see how they could come up with even better results going forward. 

Employee Assistance Programs like Uprise train employees in resilience and stress management to help support employees during times of failure. Our training has been found to improve team cohesion and reduce imminent turnover risk by 10%, by offering simple best-practice techniques for self-managing mental health.

Have Regular Team Building Exercises

Recent studies and common sense suggest that team building exercises and off-the-job bonding activities are known to improve intra-team communication and productivity. These activities have a positive effect on employees’ perception of their work environments. They also reduce conflicts among co-workers and consequently cut the probability of stress arising from poor interpersonal relations.

These team building exercises are particularly important for employees starting in a new team or organisation as part of a mentally healthy induction. New employees should feel confident to know who to ask for help when they need it.

It can be useful for a manager to connect the new employee with 5-10 people who they will contribute to the success of, or who will contribute to their success. This helps them to slowly integrate within relevant areas of the companies network over their first year.

Regularly Check in on Employee Wellbeing

Regular check-ins with employees isn’t just about reducing team friction, it is about ensuring each team member is mentally coping with work and life. Employees who are struggling are obligated to ask for help if they need it, but this is something they cannot do. This is particularly difficult with remote employees.

Your workplace can encourage an open conversation about work-related stress by making it a topic for weekly or monthly manager meetings. This way, you can ensure timely response and management of the employees needs.

Another way is to offer an early intervention employee assistance program. This reaches out to employees digitally and discretely, offering support that is highly accessible and less stigmatised than face-to-face counselling. Uprise is the only early intervention EAP that collects anonymous feedback from employees on common workplace stressors. This is reported back to the employer to allow pro-active identification and action in areas that are effecting the mental health of your employees.

Lastly, one of the most important safety measures is to ensure that it is easy and safe for an employee to report unacceptable conduct in the workplace. Typically, employees should be able to report workplace bullying, violence or harassment to the contracted WHS provider, Staff Help Desk or the Health and Safety Representative in the workplace.


Uprise is a proactive employee assistance program (EAP) provider that improves employee engagement, retention and performance by enhancing psychological wellbeing. Learn more about how our program solves employee stress.

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Charlotte Owen