How important are team building activities for a company? How often should we take time to do teamwork exercises?
Planning team building activities might seem like a daunting and useless task. Why would you want your employees to stop working in order to play games and carry on? Not to mention the perceived lameness of the activities and the potential for someone’s competitive nature to get away from them and cause an argument among your staff.
The truth is, team building activities are one of the most important things you and your staff should be doing. Investing in teamwork exercises and training can improve your entire workplace culture. Team building activities encourage communication, help teach conflict resolution skills, and boost employee engagement. And let’s be honest, even the silliest teamwork games are fun and can bring a lot of laughter to an otherwise quiet workplace.
Team building activities can be done throughout the fiscal calendar year. You can plan them into days that are already set aside for celebrating the holidays or special events. Or, you can host a full day of team-building exercises as often as needed to suit your company's needs. Some companies host one day a year. Others host team building days every quarter. Choosing the frequency of when you’ll host team-building activities should be determined by the work calendar. It’s probably not a good idea to ask your employees to participate in a full day of teamwork activities in the middle of busy season, or at a time when there are several large projects being worked on. Wait until things have slowed down a little and there is more time in everyone’s work schedule to accommodate a few hours of team building.
You might hear a lot of groaning from your employees when you first announce that your company will be hosting a team-building day. You may have personalities in your workplace who prefer to work alone, others may not want to be pulled from projects they deem more important than participating in relay races and group skits about office life. There are things you can do to prevent upset and get your employees hyped to participate in a team-building day.
Plan activities they want to participate in.
Prior to hosting a day full of teamwork activities, survey your employees and ask about the challenges they face. Ask them what type of training or activity they feel would best prepare them to mitigate those challenges. Then, plan activities in accordance to needs of your workplace. You might even consider hiring a professional corporate training company to help you facilitate.
Make it fun.
Don’t restrict your team building day to simple games and demonstrations hosted in the board room. Team building day should feel different than the average workday. Get your team out of the office for something fun and memorable like bowling, kickball, or a scavenger hunt.
Lead by example.
Create hype among your employees by showing your own excitement for the day. Your excitement will feed their curiosity and boost their own feelings of anticipation for the day. You can start by making a full company announcement that a special day is in the works. If you want the day’s activities to be a bit of a surprise, give teasers and little hints about what employees should expect, but don’t tell them the exact plans. Encourage those who figure out what will be happening that day to keep the anticipation alive without sharing exact details. Build momentum by posting a countdown clock that marks how many days until the big event. Send invitations and frequent reminders to employees to help them plan for the day. Post posters and other announcements throughout the office and break room to keep the day top of mind for your employees. Early and somewhat frequent promotion can help build excitement throughout the workplace and give employees something to look forward to.
By investing in team-building activities, your company can improve engagement, conflict resolution, communication, and even more!