Did you know that the best way to feel independent is to feel like you are a part of a team? It sounds contradictory, sure. But recent studies have shown that in order to feel capable, important and truly responsible for oneself, a person should function as an integral part of a team with interdependent members. Long gone are the days of solo adventuring into the wild with only a pack holding a box of matches and a buck knife to find oneself. To feel free, a person simply needs a group of people who respect him and depend on him to do his job correctly and innovatively.

A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, conducted by Dr. Katharine Greenaway and her colleagues, found that group membership is strongly related to life satisfaction and a happier overall wellbeing. This is because group membership makes people feel more in control.

To test this, 62,000 people from 47 different countries were studied to see how they identified with their local community, national group and as part of the human race in general. No matter what category the researchers reviewed, the results revealed that feeling part of a group was associated with feeling higher levels of personal control, which leads to a stronger sense of wellbeing.

Another study examined 300 American adults after they were asked to connect with their national identity in either a positive (reasonable) or negative (unreasonable) way. The participants later reported significantly greater feelings of personal control and life satisfaction in that moment, as well as lower depression. This suggests that either the effect can time-travel, or their view of the past was colored by a flash of national pride.

In the workforce, it is indubitably important to feel a respectful kinship with fellow colleagues. This not only aids in productivity but helps employees enjoy their time spent at work. One way to empower a team in the workforce is through team-building exercises. These activities can strengthen a group by fortifying trust and communication, for example. Team-focused events can be very effective, but they have to have meaningful takeaways and clear lessons in order to make a powerful impact. Going to the bar together after work is not necessarily considered team-building. Employees need to be put in situations where they are asked to push themselves individually and function as an integral part of a team.

Benefits of team-building activities include:

  • Helping employees feel valued
  • Motivating employees to do their best work
  • Giving employees the opportunity to stay up to date with continuing education and develop professional relationships in new settings
  • Offering employees the chance to develop their team roles
  • Improving communication

A life in the wilderness might teach many lessons, but to feel in control is as simple as being around people to whom you connect.

Six Ways You Can Incorporate Team Building Exercises Into Your Workplace:

  1. Host a Company Retreat. This is a great way to simultaneously focus on camaraderie amongst team members and offer off-site training.
  2. Volunteer Together. Asking your employees to volunteer for a charity develops relationships professionally and personally, while giving your employees the chance to donate their time for a good cause.
  3. Have a Field Day. Host a company event at a local park, with the entire day devoted to team-building exercises relevant to your business. Not only would this be fun, it would give everybody the chance to realize their strengths and weaknesses and improve upon them.
  4. Study Up. Joining your employees in a certification course related to your business, or a communications empowerment course, would help your team and benefit your company.
  5. Bring in the Professionals. Hiring a guest speaker to focus on motivation and communication skills will put your employees in an instructional setting where they can ask questions, make observations and role-play.
  6. Teamwork is Key. Incorporate more collaborative or team-oriented projects into your workplace. Team-building projects can be a powerful way to unite a group, develop strengths, and address weaknesses all while strengthening the core of the company.