Your employees work well together, but do they like each other? Psychologists are exploring the power of work friends and how getting along with your coworkers can drive the company forward. Friends communicate better, offer honest feedback, encourage each other, and are more committed to seeing each other succeed. These are all traits that managers want in their employees.
But how can you encourage camaraderie in the workplace so your coworkers can establish professional friendships? One option is to invest in team-building exercises that provide opportunities for your staff to step away from the office. These activities allow your employees to connect with nature and their local town, while also spending time with their coworkers. By choosing different types of events, everyone can find something that interests them or allows their skill sets to shine.
The best way to understand how team-building events can help your staff is to see these activities in action. Here are a few ideas that could be a good fit for your company and how they benefit your team.
Attend a Local Event
Some of the best team-building activities require absolutely no preparation or spending on your end. Keep an eye on local events and share them with your staff. You can also close the office early on a Friday for team-building if your staff is excited about a particular festival or concert.
Highlighting local events shows how your company supports a healthy work-life balance while also encouraging team members to attend together. An employee who is new to the area and struggling to make friends might find concert buddies working just down the hall.
Here are a few events to look out for and share with your team members:
- Concerts and music festivals;
- Holiday celebrations;
- Unique shows and theatre performances;
- Community volunteer days;
- Park clean-ups and improvement days;
- Markets that support local business owners, farms, food truck owners, and other community members.
One group of employees might be passionate about country music while others want to attend a pet adoption festival. There’s always something going on for your team members to enjoy.
Complete an Obstacle Course
Most people think about intense mud courses and challenges when they picture obstacle courses; however, you can modify this vision to accommodate your team. Obstacle courses can provide challenges that require employees to work as a team or use clear communication to solve problems. These are skills that can directly apply to the workplace.
There are a few steps you can take to make sure obstacle courses are accessible to everyone. First, consider working with a professional company in your area. They already likely have accessible courses and this cuts down on your workload. Next, make sure each obstacle highlights a different skill set or opportunity for different staff members to shine. Teams work at their best when everyone has a chance to help out.
Do Group Yoga
Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise that allows people to practice their emotional control and reduce stress. Some schools are even incorporating yoga into classrooms to help students and teachers destress.
Yoga is a great team-building activity because almost everyone can participate on their own physical level. Some team members might be comfortable in basic poses while others can move into more advanced modifications. An experienced yoga instructor will make everyone feel included and valued.
Look around your community and see if there are unique yoga opportunities for your staff. Some places offer goat yoga where baby goats climb on your back while you work out. Puppy yoga and kitten yoga also introduce adorable furry (and adoptable) friends to the fitness experience.
Go on a Company-Wide Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts make for great team-building activities. They are fun, low-pressure, and require teamwork to solve clues and find items. You can work with professional scavenger hunt companies in your city or set up a variety of clues yourself. This is a great way to involve local businesses that might be willing to create riddles and challenges for your teams.
To have more fun and further involve your team members, consider hiding item caches underground at various locations. Depending on where your employees will be searching (and what they are looking for) you might want to give each team a tool bag for the job. For scanning underground and digging up treasure, consider treasure detectors, metal detector packs, and adventure bundles for your staff.
Have a Field Day
Field Days are often used to celebrate the end of a school year. They consist of several low-competition activities where different skills are showcased. Think of them like a mini Olympics. Hosting a Field Day in your company is a great way to involve most of your team members while giving your employees breaks during the day. Here are a few activities you can include:
- Ring toss;
- Three-legged race;
- Egg-on-spoon walk;
- Balloon popping race;
- Sack race;
- Relay race;
- Water balloon toss.
You also don’t have to host this event on your office campus. Consider renting a campsite in your local park or getting permission from a nearby school to use their facilities for a day.
Join a Cooking Class
If you live in an area where outdoor activities aren’t always possible, develop a list of indoor team-building options. The local cooking school might offer group classes to your employees where your staff can prepare and enjoy delicious meals.
There are so many benefits of taking a cooking class as a team-building event. Here are a few reasons to consider this:
- Cultures and experiences are shared over food.
- Your team can learn new things (ingredients, cooking strategies, and skills) together.
- Cooking requires a team effort, otherwise, one dish might burn while the chef focuses on another element.
- Your staff follows clear processes to complete projects — not unlike how they divide and complete work in the office.
You can also embrace friendly competition with cook-offs and contests. Consider hosting a pie-making contest for Pi Day or hosting a chili cook-off in the parking lot one afternoon.
Play a Team Sport
There are multiple sports that you can bring into your company; however, you want to make your sports team inclusive. Consider developing a seasonal roster with a different sport every other month. Some sports might be more competitive (like basketball or soccer) while others are less intense (like badminton or squash). Team members might sign up for the sports they are excited about or take a break if they aren’t interested in certain games.
You can also decide how competitive you want these teams to be. Depending on your organization, you can create internal teams that compete against each other or reach out to local businesses to start a local league.
Rent Gear for Water Activities
Getting out on the water is another great way to engage your employees. This could be as simple as scheduling a beach day where your team members relax on the shore. You can also rent kayaks or charter a boat for an afternoon to explore the coast. Here are a few water activities to consider:
- Stand-up paddle boarding;
- Canoeing or kayaking;
Make sure your employees are fully prepared ahead of a water day. Send out a list of suggested items to bring (sunscreen, towel, etc.) and highlight any physical requirements or recommendations. This ensures your team stays safe and has fun.
Take a Hike
Hiking is another activity that can vary by skill level. You might have some team members who spend entire weekends exploring advanced trails along with others who simply enjoy visiting nearby parks. If you decide to set up a company hiking program, try to include different physical levels. You could schedule three hikes each month, one for each level of hiker.
You also don’t have to leave city limits to enjoy a hike. Reach out to a local nature preserve and see if a park ranger can take your team on a guided hike. Your employees can learn about the flora and fauna living right in their backyards and might be surprised by the amount of wildlife near them.
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is developing a team-building program that only accommodates one interest. The organization might have a highly-competitive kickball league, which isolates employees who don’t care about sports. Use this guide to develop a varied schedule of team-building opportunities that can match any interests, physical activity levels, and time constraints your staff might have.