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Team-building activities for workforce development

A group of office workers smiling and having fun while taking part in a team building exercise, holding pens between each others index fingers.
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Your employees are more likely to deliver the best possible results when they function as a cohesive team. However, many workforces are fragmented and prone to poor communication and a general lack of unity. By organizing team-building activities, you can help facilitate a more unified and productive work environment.

What is team building?

Team building can refer to any type of activity designed to promote cooperation. A team-building activity could be anything from a quick game to a week-long retreat.

How Team Building Benefits Companies

Corporate team-building activities may seem like distractions from real work. Indeed, as many team-building activities take the form of games, employers may wonder why they should devote time and resources to them. But, in truth, there are many reasons to embrace team building.

The following scenarios demonstrate what could happen with a lack of team building.

  • A new employee at your company is young and inexperienced but bright and creative. She has some ideas that could benefit the company. However, she’s shy and reluctant to share them, as she worries someone will laugh at them or, if the team values her ideas, someone else will steal them and she won’t receive credit. In the end, she keeps her ideas to herself because she doesn’t trust her coworkers enough to share.
  • You have two employees who are very competitive. At first, management sees this competition as a good thing because it motivates them to excel. Over time, however, they transition from simply trying to do their best to actively undermining each other. This approach spreads, and soon the workplace culture is characterized by sabotage and distrust, to the detriment of your company.
  • One of your workers accidentally deletes some important files. Since he’s worried he’ll be fired if someone discovers the mistake, he doesn’t tell anyone and tries to cover it up. If he had let someone know immediately, it would have been possible to recover the files with the company’s file backup system. But, as it is, no one discovers the mistake for several weeks, by which time the backup files have been overwritten, meaning they’re lost forever.
  • One of the employees at your company is a top performer and drives a significant portion of your company’s revenue. Her success has caught the eye of recruiters, who offer her a higher salary at another company. Even though she’s been with your company for years, she’s not close to her coworkers and sees no reason to remain loyal. When she resigns, your company loses crucial talent.

Team building can help to prevent scenarios like these by building a sense of trust and loyalty while simultaneously improving communication and cooperation. In a survey by Gusto, 90 percent of small and midsize employers said fostering a sense of community at the workplace was important to the success of their business, and 54 percent of employees said they’d stayed at a job longer than was in their best interests because they had developed a strong sense of belonging and community.

A multi-ethnic group of business associates are putting the pieces of a puzzle together and are working on team building and problem solving.

Remote Workers Need Team Building, Too

It can be easy to forget about remote workers when organizing corporate team-building activities, but they’re often the ones who need it most. The nature of remote work means employees may be socially isolated and not interact with coworkers often. As a result, they may fail to develop a sense of teamwork, which can undermine performance.

According to GitLab, 34 percent of remote workers have concerns about collaborating with their teams, and 30 percent are concerned about lacking a sense of belonging within the company. Employers can help to address these concerns by organizing team-building activities. These activities could be held remotely or, if workers live in the same area, in person.

Finding a Suitable Team-Building Activity

Team-building activities can take many forms. When deciding the best types of activity for your team, consider the following.

  • Will team building be in person or online? Although some activities are suitable for both virtual and in-person team building, activities with a physical component typically require everyone to be in the same place.
  • How big is your team? Many team-building activities work best for relatively small groups, but some are suitable for larger groups.
  • How much time can you commit to the activity? Some activities may take all day, but others require an hour or less, in which case you can incorporate them into a regular team meeting.
  • How much money can you commit to the activity? Costs can vary considerably. Offsite activities that require the services or facilities of another company can be more expensive but may be worth the investment.

Team-Building Games

Many team-building activities take the form of games with a cooperative element. Charades is a great example since it’s a game that requires teams to work together. It’s also a game most people are familiar with and doesn’t require any special supplies, meaning you can easily incorporate it into a regular meeting.

Many commercial party games also make good team-building games, as they encourage creative thinking and communication. Games to try could include Jenga, Codenames, Just One or Telestrations, among others.

Team-Building Trust Exercises

Since one of the main goals of team building is to foster trust, trust exercises are a logical choice. One of the most famous is the trust fall, but if you’re worried about the liability issues involved in asking your employees to fall backward, you may prefer activities that involve less physical activity.

For example, in a blind drawing activity, a person who is blindfolded draws while another person provides instructions on what to draw without revealing the subject. Another example of a trust exercise is Two Truths and a Lie, a classic icebreaker game that can encourage your team to trust each other with information.

Team building outdoor in the forest

Team-Building Retreats

If you want to properly invest in team building, consider planning a team-building company retreat. You’ll have to pick an offsite location and plan multiple activities, often over the course of several days. Although a retreat requires a greater time commitment and financial investment, it can help forge stronger bonds between employees. Recreational activities at the retreat location, such as social hours or casual hiking trips, can help to strengthen these new bonds.

Other Fun Team-Building Activities

Any activity that requires some element of collaboration can be a team-building activity, but here are a few more examples.

  • Potluck: Although potlucks aren’t often classified as team-building activities, they do require some element of collaboration and communication to ensure that 20 people don’t bring chips. Potlucks can also allow for casual socialization and can be particularly effective for larger groups. To go a step further, have potluck attendees play games that have an element of team building.
  • Escape Rooms: Escape rooms require problem-solving and cooperation, making them a great choice for team building.
  • Scavenger Hunt: To use scavenger hunts for team building, divide employees up to work in pairs or small groups to find all the items on their lists.
  • Volunteer: If there’s a cause your company or team is passionate about, doing a group community service activity can be a great way to bond as a team while also making a positive impact on your community.

Virtual Team-Building Activities

It’s possible to do many of these team-building activities virtually, and others have virtual alternatives. For example, playing Two Truths and a Lie over Zoom is just as easy as playing it at the office. There are also virtual escape rooms, and many popular party games have online versions.

Ready to build a stronger team?

Team-building activities are an important part of building a productive company culture, but busy HR teams often lack the time to implement these activities. Whether you need assistance with payroll, onboarding or planning team-building activities, Higginbotham’s HR Services team can help take some of the work off your plate through our outsourcing and consulting services. Talk to a member of our team today.

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