How to effectively plan bonding activities for teams
Here are nine things you can do to plan and organize your next bonding event:
1. Establish clear goals for the event
Determine the following aspects to create a goal or mission statement for your event:
- Who’s attending
- What they’ll do
- Where they’ll do it
- When they’ll do it
- Why they’re doing it
- What you want them to gain from the experience
Understanding what you want your team to get out of the event can also help you determine other aspects, including whether the event should be mandatory or voluntary. Once you have the plans set, share this goal statement with the attendees so they are motivated to participate.
2. Plan ahead
Give yourself enough time to plan the event, including securing locations and vendors, picking a date and time and getting supervisors to approve the budget. Depending on these factors and how many people are attending, you may need anywhere from a few weeks to several months to plan.
Use tools like Excel to track your to-do list and progress. You can even make a Gantt chart in Excel to create a timeline that shows you how much time you have to complete each step.
3. Get help from others
Many people in your office, department or team may be willing and able to help you make this event a success, including:
- Other managers: Your colleagues may have already held events for their teams, so ask them for advice or assistance.
- Interested team members: Consider emailing your team to see if anyone is interested in using or developing their organization, planning and leadership skills to help you.
- Human resources: For more skill-building-based events, HR administrators may already have resources or contacts you can use.
- Internal event planners: If your company has an event planning, marketing or public relations team, enlist their knowledge and experience in holding events.
For particularly large events, consider hiring a professional event planner to help you select vendors and locations, make an agenda and set up a budget and keep to it.
4. Identify participants and their needs
Decide who you’re going to invite and what they need or want:
- Professional needs: If you’re planning an event to improve skills, consider what areas each team member could benefit from improving.
- Personal preferences: Some people enjoy friendly competition, while others enjoy everyone working as a team. Ask team members about their hobbies, interests and preferences for activities you’re considering.
- Scheduling: For both voluntary and mandatory events, you may need to consider paid time off, family and medical leave and workplace commitments when deciding the date and time of your event.
You can always send a survey to gather this information right from your team members. This information can also help you better determine the event’s goals.
5. Create a realistic budget
Be mindful of details that can impact your budget:
- Transportation and parking: Determine whether you’ll have people drive themselves or if you’ll provide transportation, like renting a bus. Consider paying for parking or public transportation fees.
- Venue: You may need to rent an indoor space. Some outdoor spaces may be free, but securing a permit ensures you have the space when you need it.
- Activity vendors: If you hire a corporate team-building consultant or another activity leader, you’ll have to pay them for their time, expertise, resources and, in some cases, their transportation.
- Food and drink: You can have participants bring their own food or just food for certain meals and then pay for their meals or provide catering.
- Insurance: Depending on the activity, you may need to get insurance to keep your employees safe and to protect the company should any damage occur to the site.
If you’re planning a multi-day event or one outside driving distance, you may need to include airfare and overnight accommodations in your budget.
6. Find a location
There are many things to consider when finding the ideal location, including:
- Indoors vs. outdoors: Decide whether your event would be better inside or outside.
- Size: Determine how many people you’re inviting or how many people have confirmed their attendance.
- Amenities: Check whether a location has Wi-Fi and AV equipment if you need it. On-site snacks and food can be another great addition.
- Accessibility: Make sure your location has wheelchair access or elevators for any employees with physical disabilities or mobility issues.
- Restrooms: If the event is outside, it’s best to know where the restrooms are and provide that information to employees before the event.
- Parking and transportation: Check whether there is plenty of paid or free parking on-site or nearby. Get information about how to get to the location from public transportation sites, too.
- Weather: For outdoor events, monitor the weather predictions closely and have a backup location or rescheduling plan in place.
7. Decide on the activities
There are many different bonding activities you can incorporate into an event that’s only a few hours long to a weekend-long team-building retreat. Here are some qualities to consider in picking the activities that are best for your team:
- Community involvement
- Getting everyone out of their comfort zone
- Improving job-related skills
- Developing key soft skills
- Building rapport
- Having fun and being relaxed
8. Make an agenda
Write out a schedule of events for the whole event, including:
- Arrival and travel time
- Timeline of specific activities
- Travel to and from overnight accommodations
- End of the event
Provide this agenda before the event so everyone knows what to expect.
9. Get feedback from participants
Feedback helps you identify what was successful and what still needs improvement. It also helps you understand how it impacted team members.
Consider incorporating a feedback survey into the event itself, such as during a break in a day-long event or near the end of the few hours you’ve spent together. After a few days have passed, send a quick email survey so that team members have some time to reflect on their experience. Doing both can give you a more well-rounded idea of everyone’s experiences.