Staff Team Building in the Workforce – Make it a Fun Event!
Given that the majority of us do not operate inside of a vacuum, being able to (successfully) work with other people is pretty much a requirement in the business world. In fact, there’s even a word for this interactive group of people… That’s right – it’s called a team! The success of an organization is often dependent on the ability of its members to work as a team. A strong team will work more efficiently and cohesively throughout the work day. But how do you strengthen a team of coworkers? This article is aimed at providing you with some ideas on how to enhance your team’s morale, working relationships, and overall cohesiveness. With the help of many experts across a variety of professional fields, we have compiled a list of fun and effective activities that you can use for your next team building event!
What are Team Building Events? Where Do I Start?!
There are four main types of team building activities.
- Fun/physical activities – i.e. games and sports.
- Logical ‘brain-power’ activities – i.e. problem solving and logic games.
- Social activities – i.e. staff events.
- Emotion-centered activities – i.e. group discussions regarding staffs’ feelings about the team and where they stand.
When choosing from one of these four types of activities, you should directly link it to what your objectives are for your team building event.
So here goes… we hope this helps you come up with ideas for your next staff building event:
Fun Yet Physical Team Events for Your Staff!
When asked to describe a team, one of the images that first jump to mind are sport teams. Thus, it’s not surprising that many of the people who we asked about team building activities brought up games and sports as a way of bringing groups together. As these activities allow for various people to showcase their leadership abilities that may otherwise have not come up in an office environment, sports activities as a workplace team building activity encourages growth. Those in office leadership roles will not automatically be leaders within a sports team, as those who take charge or excel in a sport environment may not necessarily be those in charge in the office setting. Since we are all unique, with each of us possessing different strengths, this difference in leadership based on environmental situations should be expected. Alex Gordon, who works with Youth Employment Services Montreal, and is also a Second Lieutenant with the Canadian Grenadier Guards, is a fan of these types of activities because they create a win-win scenario – mixing adrenaline and fitness into a team building scenario.
- Relay races encourage team members to cheer each other on and they come to realize that their success as an individual is tied to the success of the team. They can’t win unless everyone on the team does their best!
- Capture the flag (a childhood favourite) allows team members to strategize together, highlighting opportunities for team members who have different skill sets to excel. Team members will often realize that they cannot succeed unless they work together to utilize everyone’s abilities. It will bring you back to your childhood… to that time Johnny from gym class kept yelling at you to run faster as the kids were chasing you (while in class Johnny was the last one to make a peep).
- Archery tag is a newer concept that was brought to life by crossing archery, dodgeball, and paintball. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried paintball… but it HURTS! With Archery tag there is none of the pain, and you won’t leave all black and blue! Brian Seto, the Marketing Director at Archery Games, firmly believes these games are great for team building because of their uniqueness, “If no one has a leg up, then the team members get to learn the rules and overall strategy together while building a connection through that shared experience.”
Logic Games and Communication Team Events for Your Staff!
Activities that challenge your staff’s logic, critical thinking, and communication skills in a team environment are priceless! These stress inducing activities can accustom team members to interacting with each other productively when in difficult situations… that we all know occur more than once a day in a busy work day. Being able to support one another and work cohesively in such situations takes practice. Thus think of these ‘brainy’ (at times stressful) events as role play for when similar situations arise in the work environment.
- Scavenger hunts were recommended as a favourite team building activity for staff by Carlos Baeza, the Banquet and Events Manager at the Brookstreet Hotel. He finds that they bring together the fun of physical activity and the problem solving and logic of puzzles. Working together to solve riddles, search for hidden clues, and race to the next location helps emphasize the value of different skill sets within a group.
- Escape Rooms are SUPER fun and exciting for staff! There’s the adrenaline rush of being TRAPPED in a small (usually dark) room… coupled with a short time limit! – adding to the urgency and pressure of the situation. Steve Wilson from Escape Manor Ottawa describes a team of employees striving to ‘escape’ the ‘prison’ (one of their popular escape rooms), “These employees put themselves in high-intensity problem solving situations where, by working together in order to extricate themselves from such a challenge, they end up bonding and becoming a stronger, more productive office team.” Brian Seto, Marketing Director of Room Escape Ottawa, emphasizes that these escape rooms are set up in such a way that encourage creative and imaginative thinking. They are different than sports because they challenge brain over brawn. In these scenarios, you can really see how communication between staff plays an imperative role in the success of a team.
Social Parties and Events for Your Staff!
Much of your staff’s bonding will come from simply ‘hanging out’. Work environments that encourage their employees to spend time together and create a culture where social events are scheduled and organized by the office, produce a team that loves to work together and thrives in productivity. Lucien De Busscher, Partner at Ernst & Young Advisory, believes that taking team members out of the work environment for drinks, food, or even dancing can be a great team building activity – even more effective than the more physically/mentally demanding activities! Rather than constantly interacting with your co-workers’ professional selves, you get to know the people behind the mask and develop connections that you might not have otherwise have formed. These bonds motivate staff to reach out to one another for help – e.g. with a deadline or proofreading a report. This not only has a positive impact on the overall performance of the team but it also has a profound impact on the morale of the group. People are happier and more productive when they like the people they work with!
Emotionally-Centered Team Events for Your Staff!
These kinds of events are perhaps the most difficult type of team building activity to coordinate (at least effectively…), but they are arguably also the most impactful. They are generally discussion based, and really allow staff members to get to know each other more intimately. Colleagues and peers become better aware of their value in the team environment which boosts levels of self-confidence and decrease feelings of negativity in the group.
- Song of Praise was an activity suggested by Terry Orlick (Zone of Excellence), a world-renowned leader in coaching – teaching people how to reach their full potential. It is called Songs of Praise and involves all team members (leaders and managers as well!) writing their name at the top of a piece of paper. Each member of the team then has the opportunity to anonymously write a quality or aspect of the person that they admire or respect. When the activity is completed, each team member gets to take home a list of their most admired attributes. This gives each member of the group a sense of belonging and of being appreciated by their team members. Everyone leaves feeling great and more committed to their performance for the team!
- “What about an ‘unconference’!?” suggests Jeff Dennis (Fasken Martineau) if you’re looking for a less structured team building event. Rather than having a rigid agenda for team building, leave the floor open for staff members to discuss their ups and downs of their work life. With that said, we do suggest a strong facilitator when setting up an ‘unconference’ for your team. This facilitator would monitor what is being said to ensure productivity and that everyone receives a fair chance to speak.
Here are Some Other Ideas for Team Events for Your Staff
If you’re interested in finding some killer team building activities that you can implement in your own groups, Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO, strongly recommends Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo. It is a compilation of a variety of activities which can be adapted to any group.
Jenny Stanfield, the Lead Event Producer with Engagement Unlimited, relates team building to her events. Ultimately, what makes a strong event is that there is active participation throughout. Jenny is looking at this from the perspective of an event attendee, but as our Founder and CEO, Eropa Stein, says, this also holds true from the perspective of the event staff working at the event to make it run smoothly. We at eStaffMatch believe that if everyone who is working an event feels engaged with what is unfolding, and sees themselves as part of the team, then everyone works harder. No one wants to let their team down! This is why she emphasizes that each member of the eStaffMatch team is a partner and equally important to ensuring the success of the company. It is important to her that each member feels that they are a full participant in the team’s work and success, not just a passive observer.
Finally, keep in mind that in order to have a fully successful team building event it is important to make sure that the activity chosen equates to both your company’s staff and your company’s goals. BizBash’s 4 Tips for Your Next Team Building Event provides some great insight on this, thus ensuring that your team building event is tailored to your company’s needs.
All this discussion of team building aside, it is important to remember your day to day interactions with your team as well. According to Cyrille Roy, Director of Sales in the Conferences and Banquets department at the Hilton Lac Leamy, the strongest teams are those whose leaders are available for discussion, open to suggestions, and appreciative of their staff’s hard work.