In theory, team building exercises are great. You gather people together and give them a task or a game. It’s sometimes off-site, or perhaps it’s online. The goal is to engage, entertain, and ultimately build the team’s cohesion. But why do we groan when it’s time to do these exercises? An entire industry has sprung up around team building. But how can you pick out the right events and activities that will engage your team?

Don’t Build Teams, Build Friendships

Surveys show that 91% of the workforce report they have coworkers they consider friends. This is critically important for employers because the data shows having a best friend at work improves productivity and employee retention. Friends encourage each other when things get hard, and having friendships at work increase job satisfaction.

So, maybe, instead of team building, you should start with activities and situations that help employees become friends. Another study stated, “The trick is to get real, scale down the exercise, and focus on building relationships between selected workers whose successful collaboration and communication are necessary for a project to succeed.”

For your in-office workers, you can:

  • Have Friday game days, where one team member brings in their favorite game to play over a catered lunch. This can build instant collaboration and shared dialogue.
  • Start meetings with show and tell. This works great for remote workers, too. People can share their cat on screen or a picture of their last vacation or even play a song on their guitar. Talk about an ice breaker!
  • Create fun team competitions between production-driven employees.
  • Try presenting information to the team in a Pictionary format. Instead of the same old presentation, set up a whiteboard and draw what you need to communicate. Split the team into two groups and let them compete by guessing what in the world you’re trying to draw.

No matter the team building activity, ensure that you’re soliciting employee feedback what they liked about the activity or what they would prefer to do instead. Try creating a committee of employees to plan future events to bring people together.

How to Pick the Right Kind of Team Building Events

Some team building activities are very popular. Eating out, happy hour, going to a sporting event are all fun ways to get group participation. You can also base the event on a real-life goal related to solving a problem at work. Some other types of unusual but genuinely fun team building activities include:

  • Take a group painting or cooking class. Some painting classes can even come to the office.
  • Create your own shark tank. Give your team a real life work problem to solve and have them pitch the sharks on a product that solves the problem.

You should also have events that become traditions. Once a quarter, invite the team to go axe throwing or golfing. Celebrate birthdays and holidays. Reward employees and teams for big and small wins. The point here is you’re trying to create shared experiences that bond the team together. They don’t even have to take a lot of time.

Stellar Staffing works with companies and employees to bring them together in a more perfect union. If your company is searching for engaged employees, call on us.

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