How to plan fun and effective team building activities

Team building activities are commonly cited as a great way to improve staff member’s morale and efficiency and are said to create a positive atmosphere in the office and improve relationships within the team. Yet, many employees actually don’t like team building activities and recently team building activities have got a bad rep. According to study by Wakefield Research, team building activities might actually be counterproductive when not carried out properly, the can actually create tensions and distrust in the workplace. Vodafone and YouGov surveyed more than 1,000 British people and found that people thought team building was a waste of time and ‘trust’ exercises were pointless, some even went as far as saying the activities made them feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. So it’s really important to get it right.

Playing team building games in the office after hours isn’t going to get anyone motivated or excited. People will feel like they are giving up their own free time in the evening to do something that they probably won’t benefit from and will maybe feel uncomfortable doing. Staff would probably be much more enthusiastic if the team building happened during work hours and if it had some tangible benefit. Such as going out for a lunchtime meeting at a nearby restaurant or getting in a professional speaker or trainer who will actually pass on some useful information. If you have no choice but to do something after work due to the nature of the business, why not incorporate a social aspect like going out for a meal after the activities to make it something to look forward to and get staff members socialising.

Arguably, the most enjoyable and successful team building days are the ones that don’t feel like work. However, the aforementioned survey by YouGov and Vodafone found that ‘high adrenaline’ activities were not effective. So a group bungee jump probably isn’t a good place to start. Corporate packages at a local activity park are effective for team building; it gives everyone a chance to spend a day out of the office doing fun activities. Also, these packages can be tailored to your business’s needs, so can be a good way of making sure everyone is catered for and will make the most of the day. Activities that overtly aim to draw in leadership lessons or practical takeaways are less effective and seem like business as usual. So booking a corporate day doing activities such as go-karting, archery and laser tag might not seem obviously beneficial at first, but the experience its self will be a way of bonding and working together and promoting good team relations.

If you don’t have the budget to commit to professional speakers or arranging a corporate day, or maybe they don’t suit the needs of your team, you could find fun activities to do that require minimal effort and are a bit of fun. For example, during the week have your team members send a photo of their pet, and then on the Friday send out the pictures and have everyone guess whose pet is whose. You could keep the game going with different photos, such as childhood pictures or each person’s favourite album cover. A game like this takes minimal effort but gives staff members a chance to find out a bit more about each other. Ask around the office and see what everyone would like to do. Some offices have a bake off to see who makes the best cakes, others have small parties when it’s someone’s birthday or when the team does great work. There are plenty of ways to raise morale and bring the team together on a budget.

Although team building gets a bad reputation and is seen as a waste of time, it doesn’t have to be that way! As long as you are prepared to do something a bit different and get employees out of the office it can be an enjoyable occasion and bring your team closer together. Even if you are just doing small activities in the office, they can be beneficial if you get them right. Ask your staff what they want to do and get their feedback. Team building can be something people look forward to rather than try to avoid.