HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Team Building Activities

Team building has a bad reputation for being extremely “corporate-y” and lame, yet it could be the most important investment you make for your employees. It doesn’t even have to be expensive! Read on to learn more.

What Are Team Building Activities?

Initiatives or activities designed to create stronger bonds between members of various groups are team building activities. These activities can be informal or structured, in person, remote or hybrid and are meant to enhance the employee experience.

The Benefits of Organizing Team Building Activities

There are several benefits to hosting team building activities at your workplace. These benefits include:
  • People-first messaging. Companies who dedicate time and resources towards team building demonstrate they are prioritizing their employees’ experience, well-being and work-life balance. They have a people-first mindset.
  • Encourages communication. Most activities require some level of communication across the team. Whether solving a puzzle or cooking a meal together, you’re bound to have great conversations you wouldn’t normally have in your day to day.
  • Improves morale. When employees are engaged with their colleagues, they are happier and more productive. Employees tend to feel more connected to colleagues after quality time together, no matter the activity.
Team building doesn’t have to be complicated. Below you’ll find lots of ideas for fun and engaging team building activities.

Team Meal Prep

Find a local, private cooking class for your team to connect in person, or utilize companies like Hungry Xperience for a full cook-from-home experience! There’s something extra special about creating a meal together and then sitting down to enjoy and celebrate your team’s creation. Other ideas are cookie decorating with Hungry Xperience, a virtual charcuterie making class from Peck Boards, and my personal favorite: City Brew Tours’s virtual beer & cheese tasting!

Game On!

There are endless possibilities when it comes to competitive activities for your team. Below are a few tried and true ideas to get you started. Be sure to keep your unique teams’ preferences in mind. What works for some teams may not land well with others. Self Hosted Here are a few self hosted competitive team activities:
  • Game night happy hour. This is an in person event filled with appetizers, drinks and various games. Popular games include Tsuro, Slapzi and Kahoot Trivia. Game nights are a simple way to connect with your team without much advance preparation.
  • Virtual game night. Gather on Google meets or Zoom and host your teams for a few rounds of skribbl, a virtual pictionary, or codenames! Both games are online, free, and extremely easy to pick up for new players. Please be warned: these games can be addicting.
  • The “newly met” game. This is a fun twist on the “newlywed” bridal game. Overview: Each attendee will be randomly paired with another team member 48 hours before the event. Each team member can connect with their partner prior to our event to best strategize and prepare to WIN! Ask them anything! Favorite color? Band? What pet did they have at age seven? Where did they take their last vacation? The host will ask a series of questions about each other which must be answered correctly. The team with the most correct answers will be declared the winner!
  • Scavenger hunt (in-person or virtual). Traditional scavenger hunts may take some advance planning and prep. For a virtual twist, gather your team virtually on a video platform, such as Google Meets, Zoom, etc. The host will prompt for an item to be found. The first person to bring back the correct item and hold it up to the camera will earn the points. The team with the most points at the end of the game will be declared the winner!
Externally Hosted Here are some suggestions for externally hosted team building activities:
  • Confetti. Confetti has team building events for all budgets and instant, transparent pricing. No need to go back and forth with a sales rep; book what you need when you need it!
  • The Go Game. This platform works for in-person, hybrid and virtual activities and is often a team hit. Their virtual platform is unmatched, has a lower price point and the rapid fire games keep your teams highly active. They also offer in-person and hybrid options to meet all your office needs.

Async Team Bonding

Team building doesn’t always have to be a grand ordeal. Simple can still be engaging. Slack is an online portal where teams can initiate discussions, games and challenges to keep the team feeling connected while working asynchronously. Here are a few more examples for encouraging team bonding while working asynchronously:
  • Add #gamemonk. This hashtag is a fun way to play trivia throughout the day with co-workers. Anyone can start a game and it’s great to encourage others to join the competition!
  • Start “Make-A-Meme-Monday.” This activity can get your team’s creative side going.
  • Challenge your team to a color war. Color wars runs for a set amount of time (like August 1st-31st). Randomly assign employees into teams of three to four and give them a team color. If another color catches you saying/typing your color, your color is eliminated from the war. Teams left standing on August 31st split a jackpot. Should an eliminated player eliminate another team, that player may re-enter the game and join their team of choice.

The Timing of Team Building Activities

When planning team building activities, you don’t want to overwhelm people. Keep in mind that they have regular job duties, and having too many additional activities can feel like a burden. Let’s talk more about the timing of team building activities.

When HR and Leadership Should Participate in Team Building Activities

As a people leader, it’s important to participate when you can. Seeing HR roles and leadership join team building events builds trust, comradery and company culture. If an employee sees their CEO participating in a team building event, they know it’s OK to step away from “work” to spend fun, quality time with their team!

How Often to Plan Team Building Activities

How often you or your employees participate is a personal decision. When planning team activities, keep in mind that not every employee will attend every event, but there should be an event for every employee. In other words, activities should be diverse so that all employees feel there is an event for them based on their interests. Remember both your introverts and your competitive folks. Some may benefit from a meditation session, while others would rather enjoy a cheese pairing event.

How Long Should Team Building Activities Last?

Use your best judgment for this, as some events are naturally longer than others. A good rule of thumb for most virtual events is 45-60 mins (the same as meetings!). In-person events may be longer depending on the activity. A cooking class may be close to 2.5 hours and include a welcome drink, cooking the meal, prepping dessert and sitting down to enjoy the food. If your team building events are part of a larger retreat or event, PLEASE SCHEDULE BREAKS AND DOWNTIME. Some team members will need reflection time to take a break and recharge before the next event, and this is OK.

How to Organize Team Building Activities for Your Organization

Not sure where to get started with team building activities? Here are the things you’ll want to do.

Step 1: Plan Ahead

Work with your team to determine what type of event you’d like to put on. Obtain an appropriate budget and assign preparation tasks as needed, such as finding game prizes, booking vendors or determining a host.

Step 2: Set the Date

Events that require outside vendors or shippable items typically have a two- to four-week lead time. Start planning your event approximately six weeks out to ensure you have ample time for the details to be set. For other events, announce the event and send invites two to three weeks in advance. This gives an opportunity for team members to consider attending and minimizes the number of meetings that could be set around that time frame. Include in your calendar invite the event name, a brief overview, the date, the time, the location (be sure to make it clear if it’s an in-person or virtual event!) and any relevant instructions. Include a reminder that all events are optional and highly encouraged to attend!

Step 3: Hype the Event and Send Reminders

Employees may be heads down in their work projects. Be sure to send a few reminders highlighting the upcoming event and emphasize any due dates with shippable items or preparation they may need.

Step 4: Enjoy the Event!

Be sure to welcome attendees as they arrive, whether in person or virtual. If in person, it’s best to have a greeter at the door and a “connector” walking the floor to ensure each employee knows where to go and feels connected. No employee should feel left out of conversation. For virtual events, the host should actively welcome everyone who joins the room. I highly recommend having a YouTube audio of the “Kahoot” music ready in case people aren’t particularly talkative in the beginning.
Karissa Cooper

Karissa Cooper

Karissa is the "People Person" who built her career non-traditionally in a variety of roles and industries where she has thrived in solving unique challenges and enhancing work cultures along the way. As a servant leader in the tech startup world, Karissa partners with executives to build and strengthen company culture and the employee experience through policies, programs, coaching, and other people & HR initiatives. She possess a true passion for creating inclusive practices and have a strong value of transparency in everything that she does. People-first, period.
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