The term “teambuilding” often elicits groans and eye rolls from employees. Many workers see them as unwelcome interruptions in already packed workdays, thinking that these feel-good activities have little value and serve no real purpose.
Savvy leaders realize that collaboration and effective communication are essential if a group is to work well together, which is precisely why teambuilding should be anything but a dirty word among Human Resources (HR) professionals.
Benefits of Teambuilding
Each department or company is made up of diverse groups of individuals with highly specialized skills. Teams everywhere—from accounting and HR to sales and marketing—are often so focused on their own tasks that they don’t have a full understanding of what others do and how they all work toward common goals.
Teambuilding activities remove these blinders and place people in a new environment, where they can get to know one another better and learn about one another’s jobs and work styles. This is important for any type of group but especially if your team is multigenerational. Teambuilding also tends to increase morale and company pride—key components of a happy, motivated workforce. What’s more, when done properly, these sessions can overcome the groans and eye rolls and really be quite fun—and something your employees actually look forward to.
Getting Your Staff into It
Not all teambuilding events are created equally. Do you have a staff of introverts? They might resist any activities that involve acting silly in front of their peers. Is your team made up of more boisterous individuals? A 3-hour lecture from a motivational speaker might not be the ticket. So, the first step in getting your staff excited about teambuilding is to figure out what will and won’t work for the individuals in your department.
Next, make the teambuilding active, either physically or socially. That doesn’t mean you can’t have movie nights or theater outings as a department, but try to add a more dynamic component, such as postshow drinks and discussions.
For the greatest engagement, hold teambuilding activities off campus. If employees are in the office, their minds will be on all the things they have to do—but aren’t getting done. Going outdoors can be invigorating, but any non-work space will help your team disconnect from their daily tasks and engage with the activity.
Finally, document the results of the activity, and reference them during group meetings in the weeks and months to come. Was the goal of the activity to improve problem-solving skills? The next time your team triumphs over a sticky situation, acknowledge their good work, and reference a relevant session. As your employees begin to appreciate the value of teambuilding, it’ll become a cherished part of your company culture.
Ideas for Teambuilding Activities
Check out these examples of real teambuilding activities that leaders have implemented at their companies.
- “We play office trivia as a team.”
- “Our department watches a movie together every month.”
- “We celebrate birthdays and company anniversaries.”
- “We hold chili cook-offs.”
- “We instituted ‘Take Your Dog to Work Day.’ It creates camaraderie among employees.”
- “We invite employees to family-friendly company picnics.”
- “We organized a monthly bowling trip—and it turned out great.”
- “We formed a company softball team.”
- “We participate in activities such as basketball, pool. and laser tag.”
- “We host an event for new hires that includes activities like wall climbing.”
- “We invited all employees to a baseball game.”
- “We went out for a go-kart race with all our employees.”
- “We offer workshops to help develop skills like effective communication, team coordination, and problem solving.”
- “We plan an annual staff retreat to talk about upcoming events and discuss strategies and goals.”
- “We played a blindfold game, which helped build trust on the team.”
- “We invite motivational speakers to present to employees.”
- “We competed in an escape room challenge.”
- “We took a tour of the World Trade Center.”
- “While at a national meeting, we broke into groups and composed songs and then performed with local country musicians.”
- “We went zip-lining.”
- “We participated in a water rafting trip.”
Activities that give back to the community:
- “Employees participated in a 12K run to support a good cause.”
- “We volunteered to help build a home.”
- “We hosted a banquet fund-raiser to help students go to college.”
- “Our team came together to help feed the hungry in our community.”
Teambuilding can be a powerful addition to your management strategy. But to make the activities work, you have to put some thought into them rather than just following the latest trends. Tailor the activities to your specific group and a specific need, and you’ll have less eye rolling and more enthusiasm for collegiality.
Diane Domeyer is the executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms. Robert Half, parent company to The Creative Group, offers annual Salary Guides, which contain salary information for a range of positions that you can adjust for your local market.