4 Team Building Ideas That Don't Involve Trust Falls

 

Mention team building, and many employees internally cringe at the thought of trust falls and ropes courses. We don’t think those are bad options per se, but too often companies organize activities without checking the team barometer—that is, gauging what kinds of outings or events would best engage their employees. 
 
The goal of team building exercises should be to find an event that mights both your culture and goals.  Are you looking for something fun and relaxing to reward team members and give your recruiters more to talk about when hiring?  Or are you trying to build better communication between multiple departments?  Are you a company full of outdoor enthusiasts, or one that prefers a Vegas trip where everything stays in Vegas?
 
Here are a few ideas we wanted to share.
 
Retreats
It’s relatively inexpensive to rent a cabin in Tahoe, and the end result is priceless: getting away from the usual work setting encourages employees to loosen up, re-imagine the company and their contributions to it, and get to know each other on a more personal level. The added bonus of being outdoors, be it by an alpine lake or at a desert getaway, is that the selection of outdoor activities guarantees a good time.  The combination of physical activity, relaxed group meals, and work-related brainstorming or jam sessions creates a healthy company culture that will carry forward when you head back to the office.
 
Conferences and Industry Events
Professional development doesn’t happen solely in the office—transport employees to keynote talks, seminars, and Meetups. Not only will these be opportunities for your team to learn from outside talent, but they’ll also build your company’s network of potential clients, collaborators, sponsors, etc. If you have the resources, send employees to festivals like the recently-concluded SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. Those in the tech world know how fortuitous these experiences can be in terms of meeting the right people and having the right conversations.
 
Volunteer Work
Time spent with your employees can also contribute to the greater good if the activity centers on volunteer work. Research nonprofit organizations in your area that align with your team’s personal or professional interests. If it is within your company’s policies to promote sustainability, for example, a Saturday morning spent planting native seeds with Save the Bay is a great option for Bay Area businesses. Because volunteering is an exercise in collaboration, communication, and cooperation, it makes for a perfect team “workout.”
 
Out n’ About
Planning a team building activity should be the least stressful thing on your agenda, so if you find yourself overthinking things, search online for fun things to in your city. Invite employees to watch a sports game—either in a real arena or a bar—or go out for bowling, mini golf, or rock climbing. Plan picnics and potlucks, museum visits, and concerts. Whatever it is, your employees will have the chance to bond with each other in a new context, and the extra time will go a long way in work settings.
 
What are your thoughts on team building activities and company outings? What has been your favorite trip? Share it in the comments below, or shout it out on Twitter @IMemployers!
The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.
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