Team building events are essential if you want better team relations because it is all about the most important asset of your business – your employees.
Even the best product or most innovative business plan doesn’t mean anything if there aren’t great people behind it. Employees are the heart of every company, and investing in team building exercises enhances their roles and connections.
Team building events are important for companies of all sizes and structures. No matter if you have thousands of employees or 10 employees or a collaborative environment or one where everyone works on their own projects, team building events are a must. Whatever your company and no matter how big or small, your business will be more productive when your team is happy.
Invest in Team Building
Taking an entire day away from the office for yourself and your staff could seem unthinkable. The cost and the missed work time might seem like a lavish expense and one you can do without. But in reality, team building exercises are something you can’t do without. They are a vital part of any company! Think about it as an investment. A team that doesn’t work well together or that isn’t engaged in their work could cost you business. Investing time and money into team building events and activities builds relationships and can lead to a more open and collaborative culture.
Team building activities sometimes get a bad rap. People are tired of sitting in a conference room playing awkward icebreaker games or being forced to do a trust fall on their co-workers. Don’t fall into the trap of cheesy team building games. Quality team building can be creative and fun! It’s a chance to let loose, try something new, and see your co-workers and employees in a new light. Today’s team-building activities can be extreme, push employees to the limits, and create a fun environment that builds lasting memories.
Aside from just being fun and an excuse to be together, team building events have serious business and personal impacts. Here are just a few of the reasons team building is important.
The most obvious benefit of team building exercises is that it encourages employees to get to know each other outside of work. It’s one thing to sit in the cubicle next to someone for 40 hours a week, and it’s another thing to chat with them casually and see them in a non-work setting.
Most of your time is spent at work, but it can be hard to get to know your staff and what they are really like. People naturally like to feel connected. Co-workers are the thing most people like best about their jobs. Even when the work gets rough, as long as the people are supportive and good to be around, it can make all the difference. However, it can be hard at work to find similarities with other people, especially if you only ever talk about work. It’s over a team building river cruise or bowling night that colleagues can find out that they both enjoy hiking, went to the same college, or have kids who are the same age. These connections might not come out in the office, but it helps employees build connections with each other. Personal bonds and commonalities are much stronger than simply sharing office walls.
Build Bridges Across Departments
Team building also allows employees from different areas of the company to get to know each other. People can interact with colleagues they might not usually see. At a company-wide team building activity, employees from the marketing team can participate alongside members of the finance team. Long-term employees are next to interns, and it opens the doors for new friendships and work associations. Team building embraces diversity because it breaks down the silos of companies and lets everyone be equal.
Getting to know each other extends beyond just personal pleasantries. Team building is also a great networking tool. Most of today’s employees don’t spend their entire careers at the same company like their parents did, so chances are today’s co-workers will be tomorrow’s job references. Networking helps employees grow their own personal skills but also creates a web of people they can call on at any point in their career. These are the people who will help with career transitions and be the ones to get your foot in the door for your next job. Many people spend time going to tedious industry networking events, but team building activities make it easier to build a network from your current position.
Team building activities allow employees to have fun. Instead of being stuck behind a computer all day, they now have the chance to learn a new skill, play a sport, or explore somewhere new. When a company encourages a fun activity, employees are more likely to feel engaged. This is especially true in our modern workforce. With so many employees working remotely or on flexible schedules, it’s common for employees to work by themselves or only communicate with people via phone or email. Team building activities bring everyone together and can make even the most solitary employee feel like part of a team.
Engagement is crucial to a company’s success. It’s the difference between workers who are there just to earn a paycheck and people who are there because they are excited about the work and want to contribute to the mission of the company. In the U.S., 70% of workers aren’t engaged, and it costs businesses a total of $500 billion a year. Investing in team building exercises is one way to help employees feel more motivated and engaged. It’s a small price to pay for a connected workforce and actually saves companies money in the long run.
Make Employees Feel Valued
Every job can get boring and monotonous at times. People want to work for a company that is fun and that recognizes that employees are actual people who like trying new things and spending time together instead of just feeling like cogs in the corporate machine.
Team building is one of the most effective ways to increase morale. Taking a paid day off work to try a cooking class, go to lunch, or volunteer as a group? That’s something nearly every employee can get behind. It gives people a mental break from work and builds connections so they feel more valued and engaged at work. Engaged workers are more productive, which increases the output and bottom line for the company. In fact, studies show that companies with engaged employees earn as much as 2.5 times more income than competitors with low employee engagement. Engagement also keeps employees around—engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave a company.
Create a Fun Culture
Engagement and team building all contribute to a company’s culture, which plays a huge role in attracting and keeping top talent. Many companies even use their team building activities in their recruitment efforts.
“Interestingly, we’re seeing companies use their strong corporate culture as a bargaining chip to recruit the best and brightest talent,” said team building expert Jenny Gottstein in an interview with Forbes.
“When applying for jobs, millennial employees are not only assessing their salary and benefits, but also whether or not they relate to the working environment, and enjoy rolling up their sleeves next to their peers. As a result of this culture shift, team building is being used as a marketing and recruitment tool.”
Develops Communication and Collaboration
Many team building exercises are designed specifically to facilitate teamwork and communication. During a team building day, teams will be forged for a specific purpose of achieving goals that are bigger than an individual could take on alone. When a team is tasked with a joint team building task, such as working together to beat an escape room or figuring their way through a ropes course, they learn how to work together. Team building activities can help co-workers discover each other’s strengths. That communication extends to regular work activities, as well. Two co-workers might be on the same team for a team building dodgeball game and realize they work well together. Back in the office, they can build on that teamwork and collaborate on various projects.
Employees who participate in team building are more likely to ask for second opinions at work. Teams that communicate and collaborate well are more effective and efficient. They find creative solutions to problems, work to each other’s strengths, and drive innovation.
Fortune 500 companies like Reebok, Tiffany and Co., and Dell use extreme team building activities to encourage communication and collaboration in a new environment. Employees are put into teams and given various scenarios ranging from having to uncover an FBI spy ring to having to escape from a locked conference room full of clues. These situations force employees to think on their feet and work together, which translates back to what they do at work. If a team of co-workers can get through a fictitious national emergency together, then they can definitely pull together a presentation by next week.
Team building also reduces conflict. Many workplace disagreements are merely misunderstandings or miscommunications. Team building allows people to understand their co-workers’ personalities and what makes them tick. When they know how another person communicates, it means that conflict is less likely. What could come across to someone as a snide comment could really just be a co-worker with a sharp sense of humor. Colleagues can discover that about each other during casual team building time.
Trust is the cornerstone of all good businesses. Seeing your manager race around the track, sing karaoke, or play softball takes the relationship to a new level. Instead of thinking of upper-level managers and executives just sitting in their corner offices all day, team building activities can put a face and personality with the title. Moving beyond a strictly professional relationship builds trust and increases transparency within the organization. Employees feel like they can trust their managers because they know what they are really like.
Trust is also crucial in employee teams. When there’s trust between co-workers, people know they can count on others to get their job done. They know that someone at work has their back. It doesn’t take an overused trust fall activity for team building activities to show that employees support each other. Even something as simple as sightseeing or taking a group cooking class can build trust between people.
Once co-workers have gone through an exciting or extreme experience together, they are bonded together. Sharing a strong experience is one of the best ways to build trust and connection. No matter what happens at the office, employees will remember the team building activity and how they had to trust and rely on each other.
Team building also grows trust because co-workers see each other as actual people instead of just a name at the bottom of an email. Leaders can get to know employees on a personal level and learn their names and interests. The trust goes both ways. Employees trust each other and leadership because they’ve gone through a memorable experience and seen the human side of them, and leaders trust their employees because they see what they are capable of in a unique situation.
Team building grows trust that extends far beyond the activity or company day trip. It creates a strong corporate culture where employees are engaged and give their best effort.
Make Team Building Events Fun
Team building looks different in every company, but it doesn’t have to be cheesy to be effective. Experts recommend focusing simply on having fun together outside of the office instead of developing laser team-focused activities. Try something new like paintball, rafting, or rock climbing; solve a fun problem together with a murder mystery or cooperative game; experience what your area has to offer by going on a site-seeing tour, eating at a hot restaurant, or throwing a company party. The goal should be to get out of the office and have fun—and the results will naturally follow.
Go ahead and move team building events up on your company’s priority list. It’s an investment in the future and one that a company really can’t afford to not make. By focusing on building employee relationships, communication, and trust, companies will find more engaged and productive employees. Forget the trust falls and secrecy circles and get out there and try something new!
Editor’s Note: This was originally published on March 29, 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.