Best Practices in HR

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Robyn Whalen
  December 3, 2018

Why Team Building Matters (+7 Ideas to Get You Started)

There’s no “I” in team, right?

As cheesy as that cliche is, it’s also true.

Teamwork is part of what makes companies successful. If your team isn’t getting along and feels disjointed, morale goes down, quick.

According to one Gallup study, 87% of employees are not engaged at work. As we know, disengaged employees are also less satisfied, less productive, and more likely to leave a company.

If there’s a lack of camaraderie in your office, it might be time for some team building work.

Why Do Team Building Exercises Work?

Team building exercises allow for coworkers to work together in a fun, low-pressure setting. Plus, it brings together departments within companies that might not otherwise get to collaborate on a daily basis.

Ultimately, it creates an environment where leadership, friendship, and creativity can grow.

For companies with bigger budgets and time, a retreat is a great way to reconnect. Smaller companies might find short, problem-solving activities work better.

Team building doesn’t have to be a snooze fest, either. It should be engaging and playful for participants to get the most from it.

It can be as wild as a day of paintballing or as calm as an office party with some icebreakers and board games.

The healthiest company environments offer unique opportunities for collaboration, and team building exercises are no exception. It rallies workers around a common goal, which then spills over into the workplace.

More Team Building Benefits: 

Builds Trust

Even if your team building activities aren’t literal trust falls, employees who participate in team building learn to trust one another’s judgment. During vigorous team exercises, they’ll refer to one another for new viewpoints, talents, thought processes, etc. That type of trust in one another’s opinions will take root in work projects, too.

Improves Communication

Everyone communicates differently, and with an office full of different personalities, it can sometimes present a challenge. Team building exercises — like an escape room — gives colleagues a chance to show how they best communicate. Working together on an enjoyable task helps coworkers connect in a way that they can’t in high-pressure work environments. Plus, outrageous and/or competitive activities can bring even the shyest of employees out of their shells.

Reinforces Company Culture

When managers make team building activities a priority, it proves to new and seasoned employees there’s more to the company than just work. Encouraging employees to unwind and connect allows them to come back to work with refreshed energy and respect for the company’s overall mission. 

Fosters Creativity

Some of our best ideas come during times when we aren’t technically working. When workers engage their playful sides, they activate a side of their brain they may not generally use at work. Lighthearted play and challenging activities encourage employees to look through a new creative lens to tackle problems — a technique they’ll bring with them to work, too. 

How Often Should We Team Build?

As long as team building is properly developed and designed, the benefits of doing it regularly can greatly improve work performance.

To support the team-building efforts, continue with strength-building activities that offer employees actionable ideas to take with them into their respective roles. After retreats or big events, follow-up workshops are recommended for office staff to continue reaping the benefits. Workshops can be as simple as HR giving a talk on positive communication styles, for example.

Continuing education and learning with reinforcements are necessary, according to one study in the International Journal of Marketing and Human Resource Management. The study found that workers tend to fall back into prior old habits once they’re back in the office.

7 Team Building Ideas + Activities

Escape Room

Participants who love high-pressure challenges will get a kick out of escape room challenges. Players are placed into a physical adventure game where they must solve puzzles and riddles by using clues inside the room they are in to “escape” within a certain amount of time. Check Google reviews for the best local escape rooms.

Scavenger Hunts

This game of finding specific objects challenges teams to find items on a predetermined list. Buying listed items isn’t allowed, making for a fun and challenging game for groups. For example, a list for an outdoor hunt may include nature items like a pinecone, something smooth, a round object, an entertainment poster, etc. It takes creative thinking and lots of conversation to gather every item off the list, which makes this a great icebreaker activity to include new hires in as well.

Community Service

Do good as a group and give back to your community. Visit a soup kitchen, organize a roadside cleanup, or walk dogs at a pet shelter. Check out VolunteerMatch.Org to find local volunteer opportunities that are the perfect fit for your organization.

Board Game Nights

Break out competitive games like Monopoly, Jumbo Jenga, Pandemic, and Charades, for team building and good laughs. Save games like Risk for another time unless you have a long time to play.

Sports Games

The athletic fans in your office will love getting active for these team building exercises. Flag football, tug-o-war, and human knot are great activities for an outdoor setting of team building. For those who would rather sit out, cheerleading and playing photographer are less-physical options that still get employees involved.

Go-Kart Racing

This may bring out the more competitive side of employees, but it’s also a let-loose activity. Racing against fellow coworkers guarantees a few good belly laughs. Whether your company does it once a month or once a quarter, it’s a great stress reliever and an opportunity to burn some rubber.

Office Makeover

Is the office feeling a little stuffy? Hold a team lunch and discuss ways to make it feel more welcoming. A big budget isn’t necessary, either. Adding new art, live plants, and new lighting can quickly make an office feel much warmer. On a quiet day in the office, work together to makeover common areas with newly-purchased items or rearranged furniture.

Get Ready to Team Build

Overall, the goal of team building is to bring staff together to have fun while building relationships for a better work environment. No matter the activity, managers, and team leaders should highlight individual and team efforts, offer constructive feedback and create an enjoyable atmosphere to learn and grow.

At the end of any team building event, ask employees for feedback via a survey. Make it anonymous so they’ll be honest, and take their answers into consideration for your next gathering. Ask what they’d like to see for the next team building activity.

Their answers may surprise you.

What are the best team building exercises you’ve ever done? Share in the comments below!

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