What are team building activities?
Team building activities are games, meetings, events or other activities designed to motivate members of a group to get to know and connect with one another. Businesses often use team building activities as a way to build trust, rapport and communication among employees.
Why are team building activities important?
Even though they look like games, team building activities are thoughtfully designed to encourage people to work as a team in the workplace. The link between team building and employee performance is clearly demonstrated in workplace studies, where social time is observed to contribute to more than a 10% increase in employee satisfaction as well as positive changes in communication and performance.
The potential benefits of team building activities include:
- Communication: Most team building activities require thoughtful communication to win the game or solve the problem. Your employees can refine and carry these communication skills forward in their professional relationships.
- Motivation: Participation in team building activities allows your employees an opportunity to try something new and refresh their motivation for work.
- Problem-solving: When your employees have low-pressure opportunities to solve problems as a team, they can develop their problem-solving, creativity and innovation skills for future challenges and tasks.
- Trust: Everyone from upper management to entry-level has an opportunity to work together, fostering trust across departments and management tiers.
- Connection: By bringing teams from different areas of your business together for team building activities, you can bridge gaps between departments and help teams understand each others’ needs and goals.
- Workplace culture: Developing professional relationships and fostering healthy team dynamics, communication and leadership can help promote a workplace culture where employees feel recognized, valued and safe.
Different types of team building
Team building activities can take a variety of forms depending on your goals. Some events are designed to develop professional relationships, and others foster learning and growth.
To start implementing fun team building activities that support employee morale, workplace culture and other important aspects of your business, consider the following five types of team building activities:
1. Meeting kickoff
Motivate your employees to enjoy meetings and share ideas by starting professional gatherings off with a quick game or icebreaker.
- Two truths and a lie: Have each member of your group share two facts and one lie about themselves. Have the group guess the falsehood.
- Dinner party: Ask each of your employees to share one famous figure they’d most like to have dinner with and why.
- Emoji summary: A great option for remote meetings, this activity involves asking employees to describe something, such as their weekend or vacation, with a series of emojis.
- Achievement sharing: Have each member of the group share a personal achievement with the group.
- No smiling: Before starting the meeting, tell the attendees that they are not allowed to laugh or smile. See how long it takes before someone breaks the rule.
Excellent and thoughtful communication is vital for employees who work together. The following activities help develop team building and communication skills:
- Scavenger hunt: Break your large group up into small teams, and provide them with a list of objects to find. The first team to find them all wins.
- Active listener: During a regular meeting, add random, unrelated words or phrases into your presentation. See who notices the most at the end of the meeting.
- Perfect square: Secure small groups wearing blindfolds with a large rope. Ask them to create a perfect square without removing their blindfolds. The first team to do it wins.
- Office trivia: Play trivia using information about the company and employees as the questions.
- Building blocks: Provide pairs with a pack of cards, each with a different question written on it. Have the employees take turns asking and answering questions.
- Circle of appreciation: Place your group in a large circle. Have every person share one thing they appreciate about the person to their left.
Use the following team building activities to help your employees build rapport and solve problems together.
- Barter puzzle: Provide small groups with jigsaw puzzles, but remove a couple of pieces and give them to other teams. Ask your employees to find ways to barter and trade to get the puzzle pieces they need to finish their puzzles.
- Board games: Give small employee groups a board game to play. They’ll have to use problem-solving skills and communication to finish the game.
- Business simulations: Break your large group up into teams and assign them to the same scenario — a business problem, resources and deadline. Compare solutions after the deadline passes.
- Escape room: Visit your local escape room to enable teams to problem-solve together in a fun and low-stakes environment.
- Office debates: Allow volunteer employees to debate an issue, and have the rest of the team provide questions and serve as judges. Keep topics lighthearted and fun, such as whether pineapple can go on pizza or the best type of boxed macaroni and cheese.
4. Creative thinking
Encouraging your employees to find creative solutions to problems can foster innovation and output across teams. The following team building activities encourage creative thinking.
- Office Jeopardy: Make an office version of the show ”Jeopardy!” for your employees. Have some team members create questions, others serve as contestants and one play the host.
- What’s my name?: Give each employee a note card with a famous person’s name on it. Have the employees walk around and ask one another questions to try and figure out who they are.
- Design battle: Provide small groups of employees with a product or service and ask them to create a poster for that product.
- Idea day: Ask your employees to come up with creative ideas for updating processes and procedures, new products and services or other useful business ideas.
- Pictionary: Divide your employees into teams. Provide them with a random object, celebrity or event and ask them to draw it for their team. The team with the most correct guesses wins.
- Feedback: Ask your team members to provide feedback on a specific scenario or potential company change.
5. Employee bonding
Authentic professional relationships help employees feel satisfied and safe at work and encourage them to seek support from peers and leadership. Promote relationship-building with the following team building activities.
- Community service: Gather your employees to perform community service together. Ask your employees for input when choosing a cause.
- Potluck: Hold regular potluck lunches to bring your employees together for a meal.
- Cultural education: To promote diversity and inclusion in a social setting, host events dedicated to celebrating and educating employees about important holidays or cultural events, such as Diwali, Day of the Dead or Kwanzaa.
- Team lunch: Take your team out to lunch every couple of months for a change of scenery.
- Coffee break: Take time out of the work day to treat your team to a coffee. For remote teams, treat employees to a gift card to their preferred local cafe, and ask them to bring their order to a virtual meeting.
FAQs about fun team building activities
How can you promote inclusion in your team building activities?
Team building activities are great for encouraging connection and collaboration among your employees, but they can be counterproductive if they exclude members of your team. To ensure that your team building activities are accessible and inclusive to everyone, try these strategies:
- Avoid hosting activities that rely on physical ability for participation
- If your activity does involve physical participation, such as a sport, make sure there are accessible options for all team members
- Be aware of your employees’ boundaries and workplace safety policies. Some games, such as those that involve employees invading each others’ personal space, may not be appropriate
- Ensure that your team building activities represent the values and identities of every team member, such as celebrating holidays from different cultures or religions
What are the main barriers to effective teamwork?
Team building activities are always important, but they can be especially relevant if your workplace is facing any of the following challenges:
- Communication failures
- Leadership issues
- Ineffective conflict resolution
- Lack of trust