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Teamwork to tackle the crisis
15 May 2012
Improving teamwork, the social support between workmates and co-ordination all improve the performance of the workforce in any company or institution, provig itself to be an efficient tool to deal with the difficulties which may arise in the current economic climate. This is confirmed by the study carried out by the WONT Prevenció Psicosocial team from the Universitat Jaume I in Castelló, Spain (http://www.wont.uji.es/), which concludes that the social resources of work teams improve the energy, dedication and the absorption in work teams to carry out the tasks for which they were hired as well as which those which may not be detailed in their job description and which may improve the image of the organisation.
After studying a sample of 533 employees belonging to 62 work teams from 13 organisations in the Valencian Community, investigator Pedro Torrente explains that the study has confirmed that “when aiming to improve teamwork, an atmosphere of social support and coordination not only means that people work more and better, but also that they are happier in the workplace, something which is a fundamental factor in times of crisis, such as that which is currently taking place. Furthermore, it deals with resources that companies can boost without any additional cost and which promote an atmosphere of psychological security, constructive criticism and attention to interpersonal problems”. Practices such as the supervisor mediating directly in conflicts which may arise in the workplace; the improvement of internal communication, both from top to lower levels (periodic newsletters, notice boards…) and from employees to management (suggestions boxes, work-related bonuses…) and amongst different team members; the hiring of staff who complement the skills of the team; or the creation of a team bonus scheme, rather than one for individuals, are some of the methods which could be useful in creating a good working environment, according to Torrente.
On the other hand, the study highlights that the improvement of teamwork and co-operation between colleagues is not an habitual practice among small- and medium-sized Valencian companies in spite of the great competitive advantages which would entail. In fact, Pedro Torrente explains that “from the results of the study, we are working with several companies that participated in the investigation to put measures into place to improve teamwork which will, in turn, contribute to an improvement in results”. In this sense, the investigation-action methodology used by the WONT team with the support of the Ministry for Economy and Competitiveness means that investigators have produced a report of psychosocial factors and proposals for improvement for all the companies which participated in the investigation.
The study entitled “How engagement in teamwork mediates between social recources and performance” has been published by the Spanish scientific magazine Psicothema, in a special edition featuring international experts in the field of Positive Occupational Psychology. Amongst the main methodological contributions from the investigation, Torrente highlights the fact that there are a lack of studies which deal with the perception of the workforce as a team rather than as individuals. “They are collective perceptions from which a general consensus is reached from differing opinions. Furthermore, an objective measurement has been reached for performance as it is evaluated by a direct superior”, he indicates.
Facing a new phase of the investigation, the team led by Marisa Salanova will attempt to renew the results from the first analysis “with the aim of confirming if, with the boost in team work, a positive work spiral occurs, the working environment is improved and there are positive long-term results”. The investigation is funded by the “Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad” and the VALi+d program from the Generalitat Valenciana.