Team building is an important aspect of any workplace. Done correctly, it can boost collaboration, productivity and team morale. If you've run out of ideas for your next team-building event, read on for three creative activities to try at your company.
Creative Team-Building Activities
Team-building activities should directly correlate with the desired end results. Both you and the participating employees should know the goal of the team-building activity. Knowing the desired end result, such as increased communication or better collaboration, will help you to choose the right activity in the first place.
Is your team showing symptoms that signal a need for team building, like poor productivity and hostile attitudes? If so, and the employees at your company are tired of the scavenger hunts, trust falls and required group outings that don't actually correspond to teams (required happy hours, anyone?), read on for creative team-building activities to try at your company.
1. Egg-cellent Design
Advance planning: Split the company into teams of five people or less. Consider if you want to keep departments together or split them up. You can randomly assign teams as well by counting off or other methods, but don't allow people to choose their own teammates; they will likely pick people they already know well.
Supplies needed: One raw egg per team, random office supplies
Promotes: Collaboration, communication, problem-solving
Time needed: An hour (approximately)
The Activity: Each team will receive an egg. They have a set amount of time (30 minutes or so) to build a contraption that will keep the egg safe if it is dropped from a specific height. They can only use the office supplies provided. After the time is up, go outside and have everyone drop their egg from the set height (tall ladder, on top of a chair, etc). If more than one egg survives, keep dropping until one of the eggs breaks. The last team with an unbroken egg wins the day.
Twist 1: Pass out a bag of random supplies to each team. One of the parts of the activity is that they need to use something that another team has, forcing them to trade with another team for an item.
Twist 2: If more than one egg survives the initial drop, a team can take a few minutes to remove one item from the design of an opposing team, with the hope that the egg will not survive a second time. Consider if you want to reveal this in the beginning, forcing the teammates to consider another issue when designing their contraption.
Twist 3: If you would like the event to include food, considering having people bring egg-based foods such as deviled eggs, egg salad and egg drop soup. Supplement with breads, crudités and drinks. Make sure there are no egg allergies in your workplace!
2. Derby Car
While there are a number of organizations that host this team-building event, you can easily do it yourself for much less money.
Advance planning: Divide company employees into groups of 10 or less. Decide if this should pit departments against each other or if it's better to mix and match from departments so people get to know someone new. Remind everyone to dress casually for the event.
Supplies needed: Wheel and axles for each team, supplies such as duct tape, cardboard, cardboard boxes, wood, PVC pipe, plastic sheeting, decoration items. Consider asking your local home improvement store for scraps from pieces they have cut. Grocery stores often have free boxes. Ask employees to bring bike helmets so that there is one per team (for the driver).
Promotes: Collaboration, communication, problem-solving
Time needed: Several hours (minimum) to an entire workday
The Activity: Every team is responsible for constructing a derby car. They also must decorate it and determine who will ride in the car. After the cars are built, there will be a race to crown a winner. Leadership can also be incorporated if each group has a head team member.
Twist 1: Teams will also be responsible for coming up with a team name and fashioning a team mascot or cheer. Besides winning the race, teams also compete to win 'Best Team Chant' or similar.
Twist 2: If your event is providing food, consider going tailgate style with hamburgers and hotdogs and some music to get everyone pumped up before the big race. It's a great way to keep the entire day on-theme.
Twist 3: For a shorter (and less expensive) version of the event, teams can do the same with hand-held cars.
This is a great activity for small groups, and the time can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the field space.
Advance planning: Divide company employees into teams and then into pairs. Place objects all over the field of play, making it so that anyone would have to maneuver to avoid the 'mines.' Get creative and consider long items that people will have to step over (such as a long rope or stick) or a narrow passageway in the middle of the field that will require people to walk as though they are on a balance beam.
Supplies needed: Blindfold, random items and objects (large enough to be seen at a distance), large field, conference room or gym.
Promotes: Collaboration, communication, trust
Time needed: Varies based on size of field and number of pairs
The Activity: Pairs take turns as caller (standing off to the side) and walker. The walker dons a blindfold and stands on one end of the field. The walker is not allowed to speak, and the caller must guide the walker across the field without letting them hit a mine.
Twist 1: Change the course for each team while they are in another room. Consider having the team that just finished change the course to make it as challenging as possible for the next team.
Twist 2: Time each pair. If the pair makes it across the field without hitting a mine, average their times to get a team time and award a prize to the fastest team, or the team with the most number of pair completions.
Twist 3: After working in pairs, have the team elect one person to be the designated caller. The rest of the team wears blindfolds and lines up on one side of the field, holding a rope. The caller must then guide the entire team across the field without hitting a mine. The team with the fastest time wins. Keep in mind this only works if team members know each other's names.
Whether you have ten minutes before a meeting or the entire workday, there are a number of activities that can help your company boost team morale. Below are a few more ways you can bond as a team and build company culture.
If you have a few minutes before a budget meeting, you have time for an ice-breaker or a getting-to-know-each-other activity. Few supplies required.
- Show and Tell: Take turns selecting employees to participate. This activity also allows the shy employees a chance to open up about themselves.
- Two Truths and a Lie: Each team member tells the group three work-appropriate things about themselves. Two are true, and one is a lie. Other members have to guess which statement is the lie.
- Penny Pick: Fill a jar with pennies (or similar), making sure that none of the penny years are older than the youngest person on the team. Then have people pick out a penny and say something significant that happened to them in the year the penny was dated.
These activities will increase team communication and you will get to know your co-workers while doing something that brightens your company's community. Working together for a good cause also builds team cohesion.
- Habitat for Humanity: Work in teams to help construct and repair affordable housing, meeting other members of the community and improving peoples' lives. Everyone wins.
- Clean-up: Every city or town has an area that could use some TLC, whether it's a river, beach or the side of a highway. If you want to add a level of competition, the team that collects the most trash at the end of the day receives a prize.
- Other Volunteer Activities: Other ideas include working together at a food bank, spending an afternoon at the Boys' and Girls' Club, or walking dogs and socializing cats at an animal shelter.
- Parking Day: Many cities participate in Parking Day, where some of the city parking spaces are taken over by groups and turned into green spaces. Some of the spaces have activities in them, and there is usually a prize for the best space. See if your city participates and take part as a group!
Purpose of Team-Building Activities
There are many benefits to having team-building activities at your company, including building team trust, bonding the team and improving employee morale. Team building is one of the ways that employees can also learn problem-solving and enhance communication skills. It's also an investment in the employees, both as individuals and as a unit.
If you work with specific types of teams or industries, there are more resources on team-building for virtual teams, building trust in business teams and the importance of teams in the hospitality industry.
Do you have a favorite team-building activity that other companies might like? Share in the comments below!