The Washington Post

At Tek Systems, team-building happens outside the office

Company: Tek Systems.

Location: Hanover.

Employees: 4 84 locally; more than 3,400 nationwide.

At Hanover-based Tek Systems, the approach to employee rewards is a highly democratic one. The information technology staffing firm foots the bill for a quarterly outing for its employees, and leaders leave it up to their teams to determine what the activity will be.

Over the years, this approach has meant the company has funded an array of activities, from conventional to whimsical. Employees have sometimes chosen standard office team-building activities, such as hitting a ropes course or attending a ball game. But they’ve also opted for more offbeat events, such as cooking classes, mystery dinner theater and even a tailgate party at the company’s headquarters.

“They poll the office, get a feel for what everybody likes,” said Faith Johnson, vice president of human resources. “They’ll do different things each time so that everybody gets represented.”

Each of the company’s office locations gets to plan its own outings. At the company’s Silver Spring office, bowling nights have been especially popular.

Major Flynn, director of business operations, said the competitive spirit runs high at the bowling alley: Some teams make T-shirts, some people place friendly wagers on the outcome, and the winners enjoy bragging rights in the office for weeks to come.

Of all the activities they’ve done, “It’s not the most glamorous, but probably one of the most fun,” Flynn said.

Tek Systems has invested in these outings as part of a broader mission to cultivate a sense of camaraderie among its workforce.

“Our culture is built on relationships. We know that strong teams aren’t built just at work alone,” Johnson said.

In a competitive, fast-paced business environment, Flynn said he’s found these outings provide an important respite.

“It’s really important that we come together and work together as a team, and it helps to get outside of the office and get a chance to really bond together,” Flynn said.

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.
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