This week marks the height of the Spring Racing Carnival in Flemington, Victoria, with the pinnacle of races, the Melbourne Cup, running on the first Tuesday of November. It is a relaxed day for thousands of offices and businesses around Australia, with many using the ‘Race That Stops a Nation’ as a casual team-building exercise.

Team-building. Why do employers, managers, organisations invest in team-building activities? Some people squirm at the thought of it. Cheesy scenarios come flooding to the mind, but when it’s done right, team building can be a very powerful thing. It can bond colleagues together, improve communication and generate an overall positive culture in the workplace.

In the medical world colleagues need to communicate with efficiency. Often they are working as a team to accomplish a common goal. Building intricate connections in and out of the usual workplace environment is invaluable. It encourages open dialogue, builds trust and increases collaboration. Employees are more engaged and it’s a great opportunity for people to get to know one another on a different level.

According to behavioural therapist Andrea Kuszewski, this is what’s going on when we learn something new: “When you seek novelty, several things are going on. First of all, you are creating new synaptic connections with every new activity you engage in. These connections build on each other, increasing your neural activity, creating more connections to build on other connections—learning is taking place.”

New experiences trigger the release of dopamine which motivates us and leads to the creation of new neurons and new neural connections. There is great power in putting ourselves in a position to try new things, and continuing to learn widens our perspectives and brings numerous physical benefits.

As an employer, organising a Team Building event for your staff shows that you care about them and that can really go a long way. When an employee feels appreciated, they work with more effectively. It’s never just about the ‘actual event’, the right kind of Team Building program can have a long term effect on the spirit of the workplace. Giving people a reason to come to work outside of their monthly pay. Generating an experience that excites the team. Discovering talents within your team that you never knew existed. Helping others, kindness etc.

Researchers have found that working together reduces the number of medical errors and increases patient safety. Teamwork also reduces issues that lead to burnout. Today, an entire team of health workers come together to coordinate a patient’s well-being. Teamwork is centered on solid communication. Health workers are also found to be more satisfied with their work.  A study found nurses who go through successful team building efforts are more satisfied with their work

In the critical care setting patients are managed by a multidisciplinary team the patients outcome depends heavily on effective communication between team members. There are many other examples of the value of teamwork, but the underlying theme is that teamwork clearly strengthens the ability of nurses and other health care providers to provide higher quality, more efficient care.

Recently, healthcare leaders have begun to recognise that focusing on providing a harmonious environment and developing team relationships are key to providing exceptional patient interaction and to sustaining employee engagement and commitment.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement also recognises the importance of teamwork. In their book, “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century,” teamwork is cited as essential in caring for patients with complex problems. They strongly conclude that “effective working teams must be created and maintained.”

Team Building is the future. The only question is, what fun activity you will engage in?

Here’s some to get you started – http://www.physicianspractice.com/staff/nine-medical-practice-team-building-activities

Interested in continuing professional development and training options for your team? Visit HealthcareLink’s CPD platform for the latest courses and choose the right one for your career and experience.