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The Alternative Board Blog

5 Amazing Team Building Exercises That Actually Work

May. 30, 2024 | Posted by The Alternative Board

Team building is such an important contributor to a positive and productive company culture. Team building activities foster collaboration, increase connection, enhance communication skills, and boost creativity and innovation. And who doesn’t want that? 

The problem is that so many team building exercises have become almost cliché. Activities like trust falls, three-legged races, and scavenger hunts were the go-to team-builders three decades ago, but their relevance and effectiveness may not be as potent today. And it is important to remember that having fun together as an organization does not necessarily translate to team building. 

While the issue of team building might not seem pressing to you as a business owner, quantitative data suggests that it probably should be. Team building and trust improve virtually every aspect of your business.

  • According to the Harvard Business Review, employee socialization improves communication by over 50%.
  • A recent Gusto Report states that employees who feel a sense of belonging at work are 54% more likely to stay in their jobs.
  • In an article on team building, TeamStage reports that businesses with a fully-engaged workforce can deliver twice the revenue.

And these stats are truly just the tip of the iceberg. Even in the most challenging sectors, organizations with a strong sense of team are simply better positioned to effectively compete.

What Team Building Looks Like Today

As mentioned, many of the old-school team-building activities often feel dated and maybe even a little trite. So it is important that your team building exercises are relevant, purposeful, and perhaps instill a sense of pride and accomplishment within your team. And if the exercises are infused with a bit of fun, all the better.

What interesting and engaging exercises can business owners implement today to increase connection in their teams and build community throughout their organization?

1. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Projects
Creating regular opportunities for your team to participate in community service is a very effective team builder. Employees contribute their time and energy to the causes and charities that are important or relevant to your organization or its mission. CSR projects check off so many important boxes. They foster teamwork, they provide key services and support to non-profits and other worthy causes, and they instill a sense of community and greater good within your people. 

2. Brainstorming Challenge
Present your team with an opportunity or as-yet unsolved challenge in the business. Perhaps it is an aging process that needs replacing. Or the creation of a new product or service. Or maybe an approach to break into new markets. Encourage both individual creativity and cross-functional teamwork. Exercises like these foster creativity, celebrate diverse thought processes, and leverage an entire scope of employee talents that may not necessarily relate to their current positions. Your team will also feel validated and valued if those brainstorming ideas come to fruition.

3. Creativity Sandbox
Now this is a fun one. Stock a small room or other working space with craft supplies, LEGOs, Lincoln Logs, small toys and any other gadgets and gizmos you can think of. Break your team up into small groups and challenge them to create a prototype of a new product or a representation of a new process or some other assignment. Then watch them take action! Creativity exercises spur innovative thinking and collaboration. Consider awarding prizes for the best idea, the most creative, the goofiest, or anything else you want to celebrate as a team. Don’t forget that there might be some gems in there you end up developing!

4. Team Building with Remote Workers
While employing a remote team certainly has many benefits, it also makes it more challenging to build a sense of team within an organization. But strengthening those bonds is just as important as if the team was working onsite. So schedule regular virtual coffee breaks or team lunches over Zoom, online icebreaker activities, or host Team Jeopardy Challenges with employees collaboratively working in groups to answer trivia questions. Maybe award prizes. It is about creating a sense of community for those who may have never even met in person.

5. Storytelling Workshop
Everyone in your organization has a unique story to tell. Challenge your employees to share personal stories on topics like their first day of work at the company, their worst day of work at the company (and how they overcame it), how and why they have changed over the last five years, a secret dream they want to share. While an exercise like this is performed more individually, the insights and connection gleaned from these personal stories is immense. Be sure to lay some ground rules, for instance you can’t speak negatively or share private information about a team member, but also allow your employees to express themselves and share their unique points of view. Be ready for a few laughs, maybe some tears, and hopefully a much more empathetic and connected team.

Remember, truly effective team building exercises require clear objectives, group participation, and a recap or debriefing by you, the business owner, on the implementation and impact. 

Now doesn’t that sound better than falling backwards blindfolded?

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board


Written by The Alternative Board

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