Office workers have generally had to sit through at least one team-building exercise during their career. However, while they’re often admittedly awkward, they can actually improve morale and help pull your team together. However, this only applies if you pick enjoyable team-building activities.
For this to work, it needs to feel like fun instead of a chore. If you know your team, you’ll be able to pick the perfect activities for them, and they’ll get back to work with a collective smile and an increased drive to succeed.
Let’s talk about how to pull this off!
How Team-Building Activities Can Help Your Business
On paper, team-building activities should be all about fun. You get to spend the day out of the office, mingle with your coworkers, and learn more about them. However, many companies try to force activities on their employees without any thought as to the things they like, or the blend of personalities.
For example, introverted team members would probably hate to be forced into the spotlight. This means team activities where everyone talks about themselves should be off the menu, but this doesn’t always happen.
This results in people shuddering when they hear management talk about team-building activities, which is not the reaction you want. After all, they have plenty of proven benefits:
- They help your team members get to know each other and foster collaboration.
- People can figure out who they work best with, thanks to activities they usually wouldn’t normally engage in.
- They can help improve morale, which is vital in any workplace.
- Positive experiences can help build loyalty towards the company.
Keeping your colleagues happy is essential if you want them to stick around. While simply running a few team-building exercises aren’t going to make everyone consistently happy, it can be a good start towards a better overall relationship.
5 Team-Building Activities Your Team Will Actually Enjoy
Every team is different, so you need to make sure you have an idea of what types of activities yours enjoys and what their personalities are. With this in mind, here is a list of activities almost everyone loves, so you can pick and choose which one(s) mesh better with your team.
If you’re not sure what type of activity your team will enjoy, you can’t go wrong with food. You could always order in for your office, but this leaves out the ‘team-building’ part of the equation. Instead, we recommend you organize a potluck.
For the uninitiated, potlucks are events where everyone brings food they’ve prepared themselves (or have bought something and lied about it) to share with everyone else. The idea is your coworkers will enjoy sharing the dishes they love with other people. If you happen to work with some culinary-inclined folks, that’s all the more reason to throw a potluck every now and then.
There’s also another reason why potlucks are a successful team builder – they’re among the least-stressful team-building activities you can engage in. Simply secure a location, provide drinks and music, then have fun.
Let’s go over some simple guidelines to help you pull off a rocking potluck for your office:
- Let people bring whatever they want to eat, instead of trying to micromanage everything. This will also include those with specific dietary requirements.
- Try to put together a list of what everyone wants to bring, so you can fill in and cover if you think something is missing.
- If possible, make an afternoon out of it instead of just pulling everyone out of the office for an hour or two.
- Consider providing some activities for people to have fun (think a foosball table or an arcade machine) but don’t force anyone to engage in them.
For extra points, try to schedule your potluck outside if the weather is nice. The atmosphere tends to be much more relaxed, and your team will probably enjoy themselves a bit more.
2. Community Service
Some people view community service as a chore. However, it’s the kind of activity that can help you give something back, and score some good karma points in the process.
As far as team-building goes, few things can bring people closer as much as working together towards a good cause. However, this only works if community service is something you engage in voluntarily.
The difference between voluntary and involuntary community service is the former feels fantastic, whereas the latter is more like a punishment. Given this, the best way to use community service to pull your team together is to let people volunteer for it.
Let’s say, for example, you want everyone in the office to come out and help clean a park together once a month. If you make it mandatory, it’s a surefire way to make your coworkers dread the day coming.
For this type of team-building activity to succeed, you’ll need to offer incentives for those who attend. One excellent approach would be to provide free food and snacks for team members who turned up. If you want to take it a step further, you could even offer increased time off for volunteers.
Ideally, you want to offer enough benefits for people to give community service a try, but not so many that it can breed resentment. After all, the idea is to make your team grow closer, not fight each other!
3. Egg Drop
As far as team-building activities go, egg drops are a long time favorite. The idea is you break everyone off into teams, give them an egg, and task them with building a device that can keep it in one piece after dropping it.
This is an activity better-suited to teams into engineering challenges. However, it can also be a lot of fun in workplaces where nobody knows what they’re doing, since they can come up with some crazy solutions.
On top of being incredibly fun, egg drops force teams to work together to solve problems, which is something valuable for every office. However, things can often get out of hand if you don’t set some basic guidelines. Here are some approaches that tend to work well:
- Break everyone into teams according to their departments instead of pairs, so there’s no one left out.
- Make sure you set a reasonable height for the egg drop and keep it the same across the board.
- Offer several prizes for situations where there’s more than one team succeeding.
- Let people have fun with the game and don’t try to limit their creativity!
Usually, egg drop games tend to work out better for large teams, since you have more participants. If you work in a small office, pitting a handful of coworkers against each other might not be too fun. In those cases, you’ll want to go with a less-structured activity instead!
4. Scavenger Hunt
We’re now beginning to venture into the territory of team activities that require a bit more planning. However, scavenger hunts aren’t all that difficult to set up. Simply put together a list of tasks or items your team members need to find and watch the fun unfold.
In short, scavenger hunts involve every team member pitching in to help find every item on a list. Plus, there’s a significant element of competitiveness since it’s easy to see which teams are pulling ahead faster.
Scavenger hunts are very versatile, design-wise. You can include all sorts of elements in your lists, make them long or short, put together teams of all sizes, and more. However, here are a few tips that tend to work pretty well:
- Keep the number of items on the list reasonable, so the game doesn’t drag on for too long and become dull.
- Make sure it’s possible to find everything on the list, so it doesn’t turn into an exercise in frustration.
- More teams tend to be more fun, but if the office isn’t large enough, stick to two groups instead of multiple pairs.
- Find a venue that’s fun for everyone involved, such as a park.
Just as with egg drops, scavenger hunts can get pretty competitive. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as long as you keep things fun and light. Whichever group wins should get a prize, but it’s still good form to provide everyone else with food and drinks so everyone can wind down and talk about the highlights of the game.
5. Board Game Day
If you want to keep things simple, you can always opt to organize a board game get-together for your office. The great thing about board games is there’s something for everyone. Lots of folks love Pictionary while others prefer a good game of Settlers of Catan. There’s even Monopoly if you want your employees to end up hating each other.
Simply put, pair a few board games with some food and drinks and you have the makings of a great day. Plus, it’s the kind of event you can easily scale as necessary depending on the team size and preferences.
Even though board game days are pretty straightforward, there are always ways to make sure yours goes swimmingly:
- Make sure you have several board games at hand and ask people to brings theirs if they’re up for it.
- Try to put together a collection of different types of games so there’s something for everyone.
- Make sure there’s always someone who can explain the rules of each game so newcomers can join in.
- Find a venue where people will feel comfortable and relax, (preferably out of the office!).
In our experience, board game days (or nights) are an excellent fit for relaxed bars. However, this might not be the best option if there are team members who don’t drink. For those scenarios, a lounge area can also suffice. Plus, it may even give you the opportunity to set up a console for people to play with as well, if you have one or two particularly fond of video games.
Team-building activities are often erroneously labelled as awkward, but they don’t have to be. The key is to focus on the activities practically everyone loves. If you force employees into unsuitable situations, it probably won’t end well. With this in mind, we recommend you skip the ‘getting-to-know each other’ games altogether, and think a little more outside of the box.
For example, focus on universally fun and friendly games and activities. Potlucks are sure to please nearly everyone, and most people love scavenger hunts or board games too. The secret is to adapt to your team, and let the good times roll!
Do you have any questions about how to come up with team-building activities your team will enjoy? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Article thumbnail image by PureSolution / shutterstock.com
Some great ideas that I will keep in mind for my next group team meeting.
I really liked the idea of the egg drop. Not only does it sound like a fun thing to do but it is also an opportunity to see which members of your team really shine when it comes to ingenuity and creativity.