Typically, when a company trots out “team-building” exercises, there is a collective groan from the group. That’s because most of these exercises are kind of dorky and don’t do much to improve the morale and productivity of employees. In many cases, the exercises are seen as a chore, rather than a way to build camaraderie among co-workers.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. At The Party Team, we believe that team-building exercises can work, but only if they are fun and engaging. While there can be some merit to traditional options like trust falls and Two Truths and a Lie, it’s much harder for employees to connect. So, with that in mind, we’re going to share five games that can deliver results without becoming “work.”
How to Make Team-Building Exercises Work
Part of the problem with most team-building exercises is that the company uses them without any sense of direction or purpose. If you’re going to have employees do trust falls, what is the goal behind it? If you want workers to trust each other more, falling into each other’s arms doesn’t necessarily translate well to the workplace.
So, rather than picking a handful of games and hoping for the best, you need to have an objective in mind. Examples can include open communication, improved customer service, attention to detail, and more. Then, you can choose games or exercises that will help achieve that goal. For example, if you want to improve the level of customer service, you can pick a game that will highlight the value of positive interactions between guests and employees.
Finally, you should get input from workers to see which activities will get the most traction. Usually, games that offer some light competition are better at getting engagement, particularly when there are prizes or benefits at stake. People are far more willing to work together when there is a goal, and having the game be entertaining means that workers will look forward to participating.
We’ve picked five games that can work well for team-building, but feel free to get creative. Use these as a springboard for new ideas that can help your employees get the most out of these interactions.
Game #1: Scavenger Hunt
- Strengthening bonds between workplace teams
- Facilitating interactions between workers and supervisors
- Empowering open communication between employees
- Ice breaker
How It Works
The best thing about scavenger hunts is that you can get as creative as you like. This game also works both indoors and outside, so you can expand it to cover as much area as necessary. Groups can collect items within the office or they can go around town to find them. Also, you can have a mix of physical items and activities.
Overall, you can customize your scavenger hunt to relate as much to your objective as possible. For example, if you’re trying to foster open communication between teams, you can create a rule that only one person per team can talk. Since the others can’t speak, they have to come up with creative ways to communicate.
Although you can customize your scavenger hunt, here are the basic rules to follow:
- Step One: Break workers into teams (2 to 4 people per team)
- Step Two: Give each team a list of scavenger items
- Step Three: Set any parameters or rules (i.e., teams have to stay within certain boundaries)
- Step Four: Give the teams a specific amount of time to collect their items (i.e., 20 minutes, two hours, etc.)
- Step Five: Once the teams return, award prizes to those who completed the list.
- Step Six: Discuss the hunt. Ask winning teams how they got results and have everyone share their experiences, both positive and negative.
Game #2: Team-Based Game Show
- Testing employee knowledge of products and procedures
- Ice breaker
- Opening communication between departments and workplace teams
How It Works
Usually, a corporate game show is designed to be fun and entertaining, but it can also be a team-building exercise and learning experience. One of the best game show options is something like Family Feud (or Survey Says), where teams have to face off against each other. You can also utilize a Jeopardy-style game, except teams are competing instead of individuals.
To make the game show informative and engaging, you should customize the questions and answers to your team. For example, if you want to make sure that employees know proper procedures, the questions could be related to that (i.e., when are you supposed to submit a TPS report?)
Another benefit of team-based game shows is that you can use them as a way for employees to get to know each other and/or their supervisors. Questions can be along the lines of, “Name three things you might find on the boss’s desk.” These questions can make the game more entertaining while fostering relationships between workers and managers.
- Step One: Split individual into teams (4-8 people per team). Each team should have a captain and a team name. Teams can be grouped together based on department or job, or you can mix teams to facilitate interactions between departments. Examples can include Sales vs. Marketing, Staff vs. Managers, etc.
- Step Two: Create a tournament-style game where winning teams face off against each other. You can also have losing teams try to move forward in the bracket.
- Step Three: Award points for each round. Come up with some creative ways to earn points, such as “first to answer,” “most outrageous answer,” etc.
- Step Four: Award prizes for the top-placing teams.
Bonus: The Party Team is Offering Virtual Game Shows!
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it almost impossible to host in-person team-building exercises. Fortunately, The Party Team has you covered with virtual versions of our game shows, including Survey Says and Jeopardy. Contact us to find out more!
Game #3: Minefield
- Open communication between co-workers
- Ice breaker
- Build trust between employees and managers
How It Works
Trust is crucial in the workplace. Since everyone is working toward the same objective, it’s vital for employees and managers to work together, not against each other. Minefield helps foster these relationships by forcing teams to help each other navigate the titular “minefield.”
During the game, there is a caller and a walker. The walker is blindfolded and cannot speak. The caller has to help the walker get through the minefield by telling the person where to step. To make this a better team-building game, once a walker completes the field, he or she becomes the caller for the next walker. This way, everyone gets to experience what it’s like on both sides.
Also, to make the game more challenging, walkers will have to start from the beginning whenever they step on a “mine.” The team that gets everyone through in the shortest amount of time wins.
- Step One: Create teams (4 to 6). Make sure that each team has an equal number of participants.
- Step Two: Each team will pick their first caller and walker. Whoever starts the game by calling will be the last one to go through the field.
- Step Three: Create a minefield using various objects. Examples can include plastic cups, papers, frisbees, etc. Make sure that mines are close enough to make the game challenging, but no so close that it’s too difficult to navigate. You can also create two fields so that multiple teams can compete at the same time.
- Step Four: Once a walker gets through the field, he or she becomes the next caller. The game coordinator then rearranges the minefield so that it’s different for everyone. The coordinator does this after the next walker is blindfolded.
- Step Five: If a walker steps on a mine, he or she has to start back at the beginning. The coordinator may choose to alter the minefield as necessary to make the game even more challenging.
- Step Six: Record completion times for all teams, but don’t announce them until the end. Discuss winning strategies and see which elements worked the most. Award prizes either to winning teams or for different achievements (i.e., if a team didn’t trip a single mine, the team that had the most positive encouragement, etc.).
Bonus: Minefield is Socially Distant!
Since this game is often played outside, it’s perfect for 2020! Even if you have it indoors, it’s easy to maintain social distancing rules among players. Have fun the safe and healthy way!
Game #4: Relay Race
- Ice breaker
- Test knowledge of procedures
- Build trust and cooperation
How It Works
Usually, relay races are a test of physical skills, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As a team-building exercise, you can create a customized relay race that fits the parameters of your workplace. For example, if you sell products that have to be assembled, the race could be to see which team can build the product first. In that case, one person runs down, follows a specific number of instructions, then runs back to the team to tap the next person in. This continues until the product is complete.
Overall, relay races are excellent at team-building when individuals have to rely on each other to complete the race. This way, it’s not all about individual skill, but cooperation and trust within the team. Using our product assembly example, each team member has to make it easy for the next person to complete his or her steps.
You can also combine a relay race with any combination of team-building tasks. For example, the first person runs to a station, where he or she has to work out a math problem with the next runner. Once the problem is solved, the second runner goes to the next station, where he or she has to solve a puzzle with runner three, and so on. Get as creative as you like.
- Step One: Break everyone into equal teams (4 to 6 players). Each team should have a captain and a name.
- Step Two: Outline the rules of the relay (i.e., only one person can run at a time, each station has a time limit, etc.). If necessary, allow teams to determine the order of runners beforehand.
- Step Three: Record times from each team, but don’t notify everyone until the end. If you build multiple relay courses, you can have two teams compete simultaneously.
- Step Four (Optional): If you have two courses, winning teams can compete against each other to see which one will be the “champion.”
- Step Five: Discuss which obstacles or challenges were the most engaging and why. Award prizes to winning teams.
Game #5: Construction Project
- Foster communication between co-workers and managers
- Build trust among teams
- Test knowledge of products and procedures
How It Works
One of the best ways to facilitate team-building is to have a group work on a project together. Construction projects are ideal because they require problem-solving and delegation of duties. To make the exercise even better, you can require teams to build something without any instructions or directives.
Some examples of construction projects can include:
- Assembling a product your company makes
- Building a Lego set (something relatively complicated)
- Constructing a bridge or tower from specific materials (i.e., paper and tape)
To ensure that everyone gets involved, create a rule that stipulates that everyone either has a job or has to contribute to the project in some way. For example, you can break everyone into teams of four, and everyone has to fill a specific position (i.e., architect, foreman, builder, speaker). This way, it’s easier for everyone to work together to get the job done.
This setup can also be an excellent way to put managers and employees in different positions. For example, a worker can be the foreman while a supervisor has to follow instructions. By switching roles, it’s easier for everyone to understand what it’s like to be in that position.
- Step One: Create unique positions within a specific team
- Step Two: Break individuals into equal teams. Each team has to fill every position before the project begins.
- Step Three: Set a time limit for each team to complete the project.
- Step Four: Award points or prizes for different categories (i.e., finishing first, best-looking project, finding creative solutions, etc.).
Contact The Party Team Today
If you want to host a team-building event, The Party Team is your one-stop-shop for entertaining games and challenges! We offer indoor and outdoor game options, and we can also host your event online! Contact us to find out more and book your event today!