Team building is important to most businesses, but sometimes owners and managers don’t recognize the potential benefits. At other times, employees’ enthusiasm may be lacking for what they view as “another goofy waste of time,” forgetting (or not realizing) the real goal is to create camaraderie and increase team communication.
There are many tangible benefits to team building activities, including:
- Encouraging employee collaboration and increasing cross-team communication;
- Creating a stronger bond and willingness to work toward a common goal;
- Providing a needed outlet for problem-solving and conflict resolution;
- Enhancing department and/or organization productivity, efficiency, and planning;
- Fostering a better understanding of one another’s strengths, weaknesses, and points of interest – helping build trust and establishing the foundation for long-term, genuine connections for employees and managers;
- Affirming a strong workplace culture and helping you retain valued talent.
Team building can increase workplace morale, reinforce your company’s values, and create an opportunity for people who may not work together regularly to collaborate and achieve a shared goal.
Activities to Consider
There are many team building activities and games available – some that take less than 10 minutes and others that may last an hour or more. The folks behind the time-tracking software Toggl have compiled a list of 39 games you might consider in your team building efforts; below are a half-dozen of their recommendations. (You can link here for the complete list.)
The game of Possibilities is a great way to test your team’s creativity and quick thinking. All you need is a group of random items. You can use a basketball, scarf, hula hoop, stapler (or other office supplies), or just about anything. You hand out the items and your team members have to find an alternative use for the item they receive. Without talking, others must guess what function is being acted out.
This is another way to tap your team’s creativity and communication skills. Start by dividing your group into different teams. Each has to create half of a bridge with the materials you supply. The objective is for the two teams to develop similar concepts (and for the two bridge parts to fit together when finished) – however, the teams have to do it without being able to see what the other is doing. The teams may communicate verbally or via Slack, if that’s available. Building materials can be whatever you want: noodles and marshmallows, straws, Legos®, K’nex, Lincoln Logs®, Popsicle® sticks, tape, paper clips, pins, etc.
This game is like Charades – but with a twist. It’s typically done with teams of two. All you need are a pen and paper (or marker), a whiteboard, and an eraser. Sitting back to back, one of the two participants is given drawing materials. The other is handed a photo, and must make sure it’s not seen by the other. (If you have multiple teams, one person from each team should have the same photo.)
The one with the photo is given 60 seconds to describe what is in the picture – using shapes, indirect descriptions, etc. They can’t say, “Draw a bee on a rose.” But, they can use adjectives like “Buzz, yellow, and black” to describe what’s in the photo.
At the end of the allotted time, you compare the drawings – which could be amazing or really bad, but can often generate a lot of laughs. Your team may find out how difficult it can be to give instructions – and how important it is to be clear in your communications.
Ask your team members to line themselves up in order based on a specified criteria. There are many ways you can do this, including:
- Birthday (not date, to avoid any age stigma)
- Height (not weight)
- Shoe size
- Hair color
- Eye color
You can make this harder by telling your team they can’t speak with one another while lining up. It’s a great get-to-know-one-another activity. As your employees move around to put themselves in order, you can see how they communicate to get the task done – and who takes on the leader role.
This is a reversal of traditional charades. In a normal game, one person from the group stands up and acts out a word or phrase while the rest try to guess what he or she is portraying. In Reverse Charades, one person has to guess while the rest of the team works together and acts out. There’s both a box game version and a downloadable mobile app. (The “trick” in Reverse Charades is that everyone acting out must work to communicate and plan together. Since there’s just one person acting and the group guessing, everyone is involved; no one can sit back, while a few take on the challenge.)
One of the oldest ways to get people to interact and collaborate is through a scavenger hunt. It’s one of the most effective and fun team building exercises. Now, with increased use of Smartphones and apps, it’s possible to do a scavenger hunt virtually anywhere. You can even add in photo taking or video recording as a component of the game, so you can share and build an album of the event.
Whether you do it all onsite or take it on the road (like to a nearby mall), you’ll need to create a list of items that groups must collect or tasks to complete. The wackier, the better, so long as it’s possible for the task to be completed or the item to be secured in the allotted time. Examples you might consider are “Take a selfie with someone wearing a cat shirt” or “Grab a take-out menu and a fortune cookie from a Chinese restaurant.” Be sure to establish a checkpoint for people to meet after they finish or at a specified time.
Rewards for Employees
Team building at the office, warehouse, or other worksite can lead to greater collaboration on the job. If you want to reward your employees (for their “win” during your team building or you’re looking for another sort of team building experience like Dinner Detective, miniature golf, go karts, or something else), you might consider taking advantage of the Cal Perks discounts program. It’s available to all employers offering employee benefits through CaliforniaChoice. Cal Perks is one of many no-cost value-added features of the CaliforniaChoice Business Solutions Suite. Ask your broker for details. Or, if you don’t already have a broker, we can help you find one.