I don’t know about you, but I really like team building exercises.
My experiences with them have run the gamut from heart pounding (an escape room ‘heist’ that involved real motion sensors and alarms), to delicious (an Iron Chef cooking challenge) to kind of unfortunate (beachside handball… barnacles are sharp). I haven’t yet done the same activity twice.
Some of these have been more effective than others. Looking at you failed boat trip that ended in a Coast Guard tow. Ultimately, your team building event ‘only’ needs to help employees foster teamwork and cooperation—a taller order than it seems, especially when it takes place as a part of a corporate event.
If you’re tasked with coming up with an activity for your next corporate event, check out some of these team building ideas.
1. Points-Driven Games
These include scavenger hunts, puzzle solving games, or even just gamifying your event. For the purposes of team building, scavenger hunts are easy to put together and flexible enough to work for any corporate event venue. Make it a photo scavenger hunt to make it easier and lessen any potential of trouble arising from gathering physical items. Also clear the hunt with your venue first, and clearly define any no-go zones!
When defining the items for your game, make sure to tie it back to your organization. Use the theme of your event or the goal of your corporate event. For example, if it’s an annual kickoff for the entire company, put items on the list like the company logo, members of a different department, upper management doing specific things (ie, VP of Marketing eating chips), and other items that will get employees to interact with peers, management, or the company culture.
If you can’t dedicate time to the game, consider incorporating it into the corporate event itself, to take place during and in-between sessions. Set up a leaderboard where attendees can track their progress, and link it to official social media accounts or the corporate event app. You can keep track of points, send attendees reminders about the ongoing game, and so on. This helps keep your attendees motivated throughout.
2. Quiz Writing Exercises
If your event is more learning or training oriented, this is a great way to incorporate team building.
Instead of making attendees take quizzes or surveys, put them into groups and ask each group to create a quiz around a particular topic. This encourages attendees to discuss sessions and other learnings from the corporate event, and mutually decide on the important takeaways. Not only will this facilitate social learning, you will find that being able to share their knowledge helps create an evener knowledge level among attendees.
When they’re done, either upload the quizzes so that other teams can take them, or make a quick run to the printers. Whether you decide to go analog or digital, you might consider scheduling the team building activity around lunch or a snack break—give team members time to chat with each other, and other teams, before they take the quizzes will facilitate discussion and take some of the competitiveness out of the activity.
3. Lunch Activity Groups
Lunch groups are occasionally done at conferences to help attendees network with like-minded peers. We can do something similar to get employees working together at a corporate event, especially inter-departmentally. The key is to get tables with a good mix of employees, such as from different departments. You can decide whether you want to mix up the seniority levels as well—either way can be effective depending on your ultimate goal.
If you have an event app, you can pretty easily assign table or group numbers to employees ahead of time. Alternatively, you can announce the groups sometime during the corporate event.
Once the groups are at the lunch tables, ask each group to complete an activity over the lunch hour. Make sure it’s something that can be done while eating and talking—nothing too involved! Try something like “Find the Common Thread,” where the group has to find a commonality between all of them (it can’t be that they all work together), or “Desert Island,” where the group has to come to a consensus about which items, chosen from a provided list, to bring with them in a hypothetical survival scenario. These types of activities incorporate conversation with achieving a common goal and will get attendees working together in a low-stress, low-stakes environment.
4. Off-Site Activities
Sometimes, there’s space in the budget and schedule to get your attendees off-site, even at a corporate event. This can be somewhat divisive for your attendees—often times, the post-session hours is the only off-time that they get during the whole conference or meeting.
You can help lessen this by replacing a typical networking event with a team building activity—after all, team building events are very beneficial and help foster communication, which is also great when it comes to connecting with new peers and mentors.
Once you’re off-site, there are plenty of options for games or activities. Sports games, hiking and the like, are popular ones. You can also try services like a group cooking class, taking a guided ‘haunted’ tour of the city, or pre-made murder mysteries. The main point is to try and incorporate something that requires larger groups of people. Getting your attendees to interact with one another, while experiencing something new, will help spark conversation and relationships.
Things to Remember
- Use teams wherever you can—that’s the whole point!
- Give them a goal to work towards
- Avoid anything embarrassing
- Tie it back to the organization
Team building activities don’t have to be painful or awkward. At corporate events, it can seem more difficult to build team building events into the schedule, but remember that you can incorporate it into other activities for a more seamless experience.
Think about what you want to accomplish—whether that’s getting new hires used to the team, allowing established teams to find new ways to solve problems, or familiarizing employees with the organization—and ask whether your activities will facilitate those goals.