Recently there’s been a considerable shift towards ensuring employees feel happy, safe, and supported at work.
Team building activities are amongst the most popular ideas sourced in order to do this. Enabling colleagues to get to know each other better, let off steam, and identify their strengths.
Whilst this is all good in theory, it’s worth questioning whether these activities serve a purpose.
Happiness inspires productivity, am I right?
In many respects, it seems peculiar that a 15-minute activity could ever be something that employees look forward to each week. However, it has been shown that team building can inspire and motivate employees for the upcoming week.
Here are 5 of my favourite team building activities:
- Guess What!
For this game, the organiser needs to select enough objects for each member of the game to have an object each. From there, each team member will use their assigned object to do an activity of their choosing that the rest of the group can guess.
This activity is perfect when you’re looking to inspire creativity within the workforce and want employees to let out their individual innovation.
- The Blindfolded Maze
A classic exercise practiced in the workplace. Employees will need to pair up and assign someone in the pair to be blindfolded, ideally working to each other’s strengths.
The navigator needs to have leadership skills that one may be able to follow accurately, whilst the blindfolded colleague needs to have good listening skills to be able to navigate their way round the course without encountering any obstacles.
As you may have already guessed, this exercise builds trust and listening skills.
- 2 Truths, 1 Lie
Supposing that you’re a company who regularly employ new staff, it’s always a good idea to be prepared with a few ice breaker activities.
A favourite for many employees is ‘2 Truths, 1 Lie’. The concept is simple, each employee in the circle will come up with two truths and one lie about themselves that no one else knows about. Going around the circle one at a time, employees will share these with their colleagues and it’s down to the staff to guess separate the truths from the lies.
Just a little tip, stick to lies that are realistic instead of elaborate lies or you’ll be caught out quickly.
- Human Knot
Firstly, you’ll need space for this one. Arrange your employees into a circle, ask them to use their right hand to grab the hand of any other person in the circle (preferably not those standing beside them) and then ask them to use their left hand to grab the hand of another person in the circle (this time, avoid grabbing the hand of whoever you’re already holding hands with).
Now, you need to ask your colleagues to untangle themselves from the knot they’re in.
This requires strong communication and teamwork in order to complete the task without becoming frustrated.
- Protect the Egg
Saving the best till last, this activity requires time to be set aside. For that reason, it may be best to save this for an end of month task when priorities are not as urgent.
All in all, the premise of this task is to protect the uncooked egg at all costs by building a contraption that will prevent it from cracking. I would suggest no more than groups of two or three for this activity as this task requires not having too many chefs in the kitchen (pun intended!)
The organiser will need to arrange a selection of different materials that can be used and ensure there is enough for the number of groups involved. Participants will have 30 minutes to build a contraption that will keep the egg safe when being dropped from a height.
Once the 30 minutes are up, all game players will need to drop their contraptions containing the uncooked egg from the first or second floor of the building, one by one. Whoever’s egg is safe will be the winner.
Ultimately, this task will help to develop problem solving skills.
Now, that’s just taking the mick.
At the end of the day, there’s a fine line between what could be considered a team building activity that is beneficial and something that’s simply an extra break.
For instance, I don’t think you could get away with saying that an afternoon of drinking in the pub with your colleagues is going to strengthen team bonds. The only case in which this would work is if you have a subject and objective that is going to be discussed. With this in mind, use the pub as a meeting space to brainstorm next steps and talk about areas to improve.
On top of this, team building activities should enhance skills that employees actually need in their place of work, not just because this activity popped up on Google first.
Taking everything into consideration, within reason, team-building activities are often brilliant and inspiring tasks that wake employees up, activate their brains, and bring forth new ideas for the company. In conjunction with this, team-building activities can produce great content for social media and the website blog, helping you to look current and highlight employee satisfaction as a company value.