What are team-building activities?
Team-building activities are games, meetings or events designed to motivate members of a group to get to know and respect one another. Often, businesses use team-building activities as a way to build trust and communication among people who regularly work together professionally.
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. These activities have a number of benefits:
- Communication: Most team-building activities require thoughtful communication to win the game or solve the problem. Your employees will transfer the communication skills they develop during the team-building activity to their professional relationships.
- Motivation: Participation in team-building activities allows your employees an opportunity to try something new and refresh their motivation for work.
- Creativity: Some team-building activities require creative thinking to solve problems. The more frequently your employees engage in creative thinking, the more easily they can apply creative solutions to company challenges.
- Problem-solving: When your employees have low-pressure opportunities to solve problems as a team, they’ll perform better when faced with problem-solving in a real-world scenario.
- Trust: Usually, team-building activities involve everyone in the company. Everyone from upper management to entry-level has an opportunity to work together, fostering trust for one another and the organization.
Different types of team building
Team-building activities can take a variety of forms depending on your goals. Some events are designed to foster relationship building while other activities are made to develop a specific skill in a fun way. Consider the five main types of team-building — meeting kickoff, communication, problem-solving, creative thinking and employee bonding.
1. Meeting kickoff
Motivate your employees to enjoy meetings and share ideas by starting professional gatherings off with a quick game or icebreaker.
- Human knot: In this team-building activity, the group stands in a circle and grabs the hands of those across from them. Once everyone is connected, the goal is to untangle the knotted bodies into a circle.
- Group juggle: This activity begins with one employee holding a ball. They say their name and throw it to someone else in the group who does the same. You can introduce multiple balls that each require employees to share different information.
- Group timeline: Place your large group into small groups. Ask them to arrange themselves as quickly as possible in different orders, for example, by age, how many states they’ve visited, how long they’ve worked for the company and other facts.
- Pair up: Establish lists of famous pairs, like salt and pepper or cat and dog. Write one half of the pair on a piece of paper. Have each employee attach a paper to their backs. Ask the employees to walk around and try to match pairs up without looking at their own paper.
- Two truths and a lie: Have each member of your group share two facts and one falsehood about themselves. Have the group guess the falsehood.
- Dinner party: Ask each of your employees to share one person, dead or alive, they’d most like to have dinner with and why.
- Show and tell: Before a meeting, have every attendee bring something in from home to share, just like in elementary school show and tell.
- Achievement sharing: Have each member of the group share their proudest 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. These activities help develop communication skills in a low-risk environment.
- Scavenger hunt: Break your large group up into small teams. Provide them with a list of objects to find. The first team who can find them all wins.
- Blind retriever: Divide your large group into small groups. One member of each small group is blindfolded. The others in the group work together to guide the blindfolded team member to an object.
- 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.
Every company faces problems it needs to solve. Use team-building activities like these to help your employees quickly and accurately find solutions to challenges.
- Egg drop: Working in teams, ask your employees to create a device that will protect an egg when dropped from a second- or third-story window.
- 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 and 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. Give each team the same scenario — a business problem, resources and deadline. Compare solutions after the deadline passes.
- Escape room: Create an escape room in your conference room or go to an actual escape room. See how your employees work together to solve the problems and escape.
- Office debates: Ask two employees to debate an issue. Have the other employees provide questions and serve as judges.
- Solution day: Hold a meeting in which you ask employees to share creative solutions to real-world problems your company faces.
- Water balloon toss: Provide pairs of employees with a water balloon. Have them toss it back and forth, taking a step back between each toss. The pair that can make it the longest without breaking their balloon wins.
4. Creative thinking
Encouraging your employees to find creative solutions to business problems can improve how your company operates. These 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 or 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 happy at work and more likely to ask for help and support when they need it. Encourage relationship building with these 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 celebrations: If you have a diverse group of employees, consider holding regular cultural celebrations to learn more about employee backgrounds.
- Air Band battle: Put your employees in small groups. Provide each group with a song to act out on “air” instruments. Have the other teams vote on the best performance.
- Team lunch: Take your team out to lunch every couple of months for a change of scenery.
- Go-kart racing: For a fun out-of-the-office event, take your employees out for go-kart racing.
- Karaoke: Another excellent out-of-the-office activity is karaoke. Rent out a karaoke bar so your employees can perform for one another.
Team-building exercises are a fantastic way to help your employees improve vital professional skills like communication, problem-solving and creative thinking. Consider facilitating team-building exercises at regular intervals to help your team develop these skills and deepen their commitment to their jobs.