Ways To Encourage Teamwork Among College Student Workers

By Francine Fluetsch on May 20, 2016

image via tiarraboltonportfolio.weebly.com

Many college students despise teamwork. There is even that meme that says, “when I die, I want my project group to lower my casket into the grave so they can let me down one last time.”

There is a stigma to dislike group work, because we have all, at one time or another, had a bad experience with group projects. Either everyone in the group was fighting, or not everyone was pulling their weight, or deadlines were barely being met, and so, though teamwork is supposed to help get the job done, it often seems like a very stressful task.

So how can you break this stigma and encourage teamwork among your college student workers, to the point where they will actually see how beneficial it is? Why not try some of these ideas?

Offer prizes.

If you have a few sets of groups that need to work together, why not throw some friendly competition into the mix? When I worked at a boutique over the summer, the store that got the highest sales goal got a bonus at the end of the month, and this was an incentive for all of us to encourage one another and keep each other motivated so we’d all have a chance to win.

Competition is a healthy way of giving a group someone to go up against so they won’t be going against each other. While there still might be some frustration, they will be able to channel their energy towards winning, and in turn, work well together.

Once they see that positive teamwork can be achieved, you can start weaning off the prizes, but they are always good motivators when you want the job done.

Set up outside of work activities.

Many people are different at work than they are in their free time, because at work they have to be professional and are usually under a lot of stress, which can make workers come off as snippier than they mean to be. There also may not be much time for socializing about private lives in the work environment, so why not hold some outside of work activities for all of your employees to get to know one another in a fun environment that is off the clock?

They will be able to bond with their coworkers on more of a friendship level, and will in turn see that they might be more compatible than they originally thought. Strong bonds like this lead to great teamwork, because the more they like and respect one another, the harder they will work as to not let anyone on their team down.


Show you’re a team player, too.

Lead by example, not by dictating. If your employees can see that you too have great teamwork skills, they might be more willing to give it a fair chance. You can be their guide if they get stuck, their mentor, and can even have it where each of them has to take a turn being the team leader and you get to be part of the team that they have to lead and facilitate.

This can really diminish power dynamics in a good way, and will encourage the desire to work together as one unit towards a goal, not as individuals fighting for your attention in a random group that they’d rather not be working with.

Address all concerns.

When you hold staff meetings, allow some of the time to be a sharing space where employees can comment on what is working in their teamwork activities and what issues are coming up. Open communication is key, and the more in the loop you are, the better it will be. This will show the employees that you understand that teamwork can be hard, but you are willing to put in the effort to make it work, and make it smooth sailing for everyone.

Make each team member feel important.

In every group project, there is always at least one aspect that is almost like background work, that is tedious but doesn’t really get recognized in the finished product. You want to make sure that each person will be willing to take on the role in the team that is best suited for them by making each member of the team feel valued and important.

This doesn’t have to be an elaborate show that you do everyday, but just acknowledging all different aspects of what the team is going through will really boost the work ethic, and will show the employees that each section of the job is vital for the whole team to succeed.

If they see you praising everyone on the team, they will follow your example and start praising one another on a job well done. This takes the competitive edge off of the project and allows the individuals to really feel like a team and want each person to succeed as much as they want themselves to.

These are just a few ideas to try if you want teamwork to get more of a positive reaction out of your college employees. Good luck!

By Francine Fluetsch

Uloop Writer
UC Santa Cruz
Hi! I'm Francine and I'm a fourth year Creative Writing major at UC Santa Cruz. I am one of the Campus life columnists on Uloop's National Team and also the campus editor for UCSC. I enjoy reading, writing, and taking selfies with my cat.

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