Does the thought of a ropes course tie you in knots? Maybe karaoke makes you cringe?
Don’t worry—team-building activities don’t have to be anxiety-producing. In fact, the best games and events reduce workplace stress rather than add to it.
If you’re a small business owner eager to create strong teams, we have you covered with this better-than-ultimate list of team-building activities, divided into four categories.
The broad scope ensures there is something to suit every size and setting: large groups to small, conference rooms to the outdoors, simple to the usual. The key is to realise that one size rarely fits all, given the different ages and interests in a typical company—not to mention budget and time constraints.
If you’re not sure which activities might appeal, the best option is to ask or have your team vote. After all, the goal is to bring the team together, not make them want to run away.
And now, on with the team-building activity list.
‘Get to know you’ icebreakers and ideas
These team-building games offer the benefit of getting to know colleagues through fun, informal games. Because of that, we recommend playing them in smaller teams or in groups of two or three.
These can be the kick-off to another activity or during regular, more productive team meetings. They even work for remote employees.
- Pair people up and have them find 10 things they have in common.
- Play a few rounds of trivia questions, office trivia, or “name that tune.” The twist is that someone different plans the questions or songs focusing on those that are unique to them and their interests.
- Host a show-and-tell. What better way to get to know coworkers than have them bring in a photo or object that’s special to them? You could make it an ongoing activity with different themes—most important person to me, favourite teacher and why, best vacation ever, etc.
- Ask everyone to “fill out their favourite” food, place, TV show, movie, etc. For added team bonding, use sticky notes, index cards, or small pieces of paper, shuffle them after they’ve been filled out, and let everyone vote on which favourite belongs to who.
- Hold a “brag-a-thon.” Have everyone share their most exciting moment or proudest achievement; you can even do categories such as “at work,” “at school,” “in my hobby.”
- Take a personality quiz. Knowing what makes your coworkers tick can enhance teamwork.
- “Find someone who…” Put together a game card and have colleagues find someone who is an only child, has lived overseas, etc.
- Have a team potluck and have everyone bring in their “secret specialty dish.” Guess whose is whose and have them share a story about why it’s special to them.
- Play two truths and a lie.
- Have a round of “speed dating.” Colleagues rotate and spend five minutes getting to know each other.
Collaborative team building exercises
These are designed to get people working together in small groups to create new bonds among colleagues who might not normally be paired up—and could even spur potential new ideas that can help the business.
- Produce a short video series—use a fun or thought-provoking question to interview team members; these can also be repurposed on your social media.
- Plan a scavenger hunt. It can take place around your office building, office park or around your town.
- Host a board game night or puzzle-making competition. Rotate who picks the game and encourage choices simple enough that the whole team can be playing in no time. Alternatively, divide up puzzle pieces into random batches and give small teams 30 minutes to solve as much as they can before rotating.
- Hold a hackathon. Choose a thorny team problem and take an afternoon brainstorming as many solutions as possible with people from all different departments participating.
- Dream big. Have everyone share the one goal they have for the company—a dream client, a huge problem they’d like to solve.
- Play minute-to-win-it games. You can find instructions and over 200 different versions here.
- Switch jobs for a day. This can create an amazing dynamic and promote better understanding among everyone.
- Do a puzzle together.
- Play charades or Pictionary.
- Have a “progressive lunch.” Different departments host different parts of the meal—appetiser, main course, dessert.
Volunteer team building events
Volunteering together can be a fantastic way to build culture and camaraderie at your workplace—while simultaneously helping the community. Here are some ideas to consider.
- Help sort or package food at a food bank.
- Cook and/or serve a meal at a homeless shelter.
- Spread cheer at an assisted living facility.
- Participate in a bike build. Your company donates funds to buy a few bikes and employees work together to assemble them.
- Beautify a neighbourhood park or hospital grounds.
- Plant a community garden and deliver the food to a food bank.
- Set up outdoor swing sets or basketball hoops at a children’s club or preschool.
- Collect items for a family or school and deliver them together.
- Invite a local kids’ group into your place of business to learn more about what you do.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter; clean cages, cuddle and walk pets.
‘Just for fun’ team building activities
Lastly, some activities should be purely fun and social. But think beyond happy hour, bowling, and mini-golf. Here are a few to try.
- Cheer for your local team at a sporting event. Don’t overlook semi-pro teams; the tickets and concessions can be a lot cheaper.
- Visit a bookstore. Give every employee a small allowance for each to choose a book and then have each share what they chose and why.
- Get jumping at a trampoline park.
- Attend a cooking class together.
- Complete an escape room challenge.
- Participate in a local cooking competition, like a rib or chilli cook-off.
- Relieve stress. Bring in a massage chair or have a yoga or meditation session.
- Glam up. Bring in a stylist to do nails or hair—guys and gals should both be included.
- Have a family day. Get to know your colleagues’ families—and vice versa—with a family-oriented activity at a park or indoor play space (depending on ages).
- Break something. Yes, “rage rooms” are a thing in many cities and might be the perfect stress reliever after a particularly trying time.