Plan activities where employees can work together volunteering for a local cause or charity. Studies have proven that charitable activities build camaraderie, boost employee morale and make people feel better about themselves and their organizations—and most won’t cost your organization any money. Especially the holidays, you can find so many options to give back to the community, such as organizing an annual clothes, toy or food drive, or spending a day working at a soup kitchen. Learn more about how corporate volunteering increases employee engagement here.
Commit to a team walk, run or bike
A team that can cross the finish line together learns a lot about working as unit and helping each other. Sign up for a charity walk, run or bike and commit to finishing together as a group. Better yet, train together during lunches to really build connections among team members. Most events require an entry fee that the organization can cover, or participants can raise money to cover their entry fees. Efforts like these not only increase camaraderie; they boost the health of your employees, which lowers company healthcare costs and increases their ability to focus.
Plan a field trip
Go to a local museum, aquarium, zoo or historical site to bond while learning about and supporting your community. Or take a brown-bag lunch to a local park and hold a brainstorming session outside. A change of scenery and fresh air can breathe life into a strategizing session. Finally, consider visiting a vendor, partner or manufacturer to learn more about your business. For example, your printer could walk you through the process of creating your marketing brochures, or you could watch the manufacturing warehouse produce one of your bestselling products. The more your employees know about how your organization functions, the better equipped they are to work with customers, generate ideas and solve problems. Such outings are usually free or very low cost.
Take a cooking class
Companies like PartiesThatCook.com are popping up everywhere. Business groups either go offsite to participate in team-building cooking activities, or companies hire chefs to come onsite to teach these courses. These hands-on classes are fun, but more importantly, they promote team bonding, improve communication and foster collaboration and cooperation in a completely new setting. For services like Parties That Cook, prices vary depending on your class size. For more affordable options, check out local farms, restaurants or colleges that offer cooking classes or fruit picking, or save even more money by asking a great cook from your family, circle of friends or even your team to teach a class.
Go on an adventure
Take a camping trip, go white-water rafting or indoor skydiving, or complete a ropes course. These types of activities force the group to work together and see one another in a new light. In addition, specialized training companies offer such experiences as pit-crew training, horse wrangling or rock and roll fantasy camps. There are so many options for all budgets and group sizes that offer you and your employees unique experiences none will ever forget. For more hazardous activities, remember to cover yourself from liability by using a waiver.
Unite with fun competitions
Your competitions can be simple, such as a chili cook-off or a cubicle-decorating contest, where employees fun-heartedly compete for small rewards or trophies. Or you can be more elaborate and stage new product-idea or marketing-campaign competitions, where teams from every department and level attempt to generate the next big idea for your business. Have them build prototypes, create business presentations and come up with action plans for executing the idea. To increase excitement, make the rewards extra desirable by offering the winners extra vacation days or bonuses. These competitions not only bring your employees together, but they may surface the company’s next revolutionary idea.
Remember, for team-building activities to be effective, employees must want to participate. If you force employees to partake in activities that make them uncomfortable, you defeat the purpose of the event and may even put yourself in a position to be sued.
For example, some staffers may not be physically fit enough to participate in charity runs or white-water rafting. Speak openly with employees about your ideas for events. Have them complete anonymous surveys to find out what activities rank the highest among the group.
As a last option, make attending recommended but not mandatory. Give people the opportunity to stay back in the office and work. Most will choose to attend your team-building event even if they aren’t as excited as others. Those that don’t attend will probably be more beneficial to the team back in the office than out with you—a negative attitude can be infectious. Make sure that all employees in attendance are not only willing, but excited to participate.
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