Team Building Activities that are Not Awful

We recently came across this funny and worrisome article on team building activities that went horribly wrong. So, it got our Humor That Works minds thinking… can we engineer team building activities that are not awful? What are the steps to make team building enjoyable?

Team building activities are a big industry in America – companies spend $46 billion on events annually, and some firms spend as much as $1000 per employee in hopes that the event will foster more relationships, happiness and productivity. As you all know, happy and engaged employees are 12% more productive and have improved health. People with 3 close friends at work are 96% more likely to be satisfied with their lives as well – not just satisfied with their work, satisfied with their lives!!

The main reason why team building activities go wrong is because organizers don’t connect the activity to learning outcomes. Organizers assume renting a Paintball facility is enough, and that teammates will figure it out. Note to future self – probably just avoid Paintball.

So, what are the steps for Team Building Activities that are awesome (ie not Awful)

  1. Brainstorm the event and learning outcomes – here’s a great list of team building activities. Go through this with your teammates and brainstorm ideas tailored to your company. Then, connect each potential event to 3 learning outcomes.
  2. Pick an activity most people can relate to – some Humor That Works favorites are: Customized Trivia Nights, Cook-Offs (like Chocolate Making contests), Improv Comedy show, Photography Friday Lunches and non-contact sports like Hiking, Ping Pong or Bubble Ball.
  3. Hire a skilled facilitator to lead a debrief – a facilitator can make the most of the event and link the activity to key takeaways of the job. Takeaways like working together even when you are busy, playing to one’s strengths, and focusing on the priority goals.
  4. Find balance between competition and fun – you want people to be excited about the activity but not so focused on winning they do so at the expense of working together. Make teams beforehand, so people are intrigued at what they are competing on. Keep it fun by having multiple winners and no losers.
  5. Leave job titles at the door – come to play and meet new people, regardless of their job title or duties.

More Resources on Team Building Activities

For more team building ideas, checkout our article on Team Building People Trivia or the classic free team building exercise: ZombieTag. If you’re looking for virtual or remote team building activities, check out our article on Team Building Activities for Virtual teams. Enjoy and happy team building!

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