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A report suggests that the number of companies investing in virtual team building has risen by 2,500, and why wouldn't it? A Gallup study has reported that an engaged team can show immense productivity and record a 23% in profitability showcasing the need to invest in generating team building experience. Take the Bills and Gates Melinda Organization for example. 

They aim to enhance the well-being of billions of people globally and they achieve this by supporting initiatives in healthcare, education, and poverty reduction.  

So, as a philanthropic organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a long history of charitable and philanthropic work. Therefore, to come up with a unique team building experience that resonates with the employees in a meaningful way, they collaborated with Outback. 

They quickly came up with an activity called 'the Bookworm Builders' for this event. There were small teams of two or three, and the group members collaboratively constructed bookshelves for underprivileged children. Each team designed and built a unique shelf, which was then donated by the organization to Treehouse, a local non-profit dedicated to supporting the education of foster youth.  

This initiative provided a valuable opportunity for each team to work together, express their creativity, and contribute to the educational development of local children in a meaningful way. This small event helped them collaborate, communicate, and be understanding of each other. 

With the Gallup research showing that ā€œconcentrating on employee engagement can help companies withstand, and possibly even thrive, in tough economic times,ā€ it is important to create an engaging team-building experience. This article will explain different types of team building experiences, how to create a good one, and more for your better understanding.  

What is a team building experience? 

A team building experience is a planned activity or program that helps a group of colleagues work together more effectively. These activities can involve games, challenges, or discussions designed to improve communication, trust, and problem-solving skills among team members. 

Team building experiences play a valuable role in shaping a positive corporate culture. When elicited rightly, these activities provide opportunities for employees to, 

  • Collaborate outside the pressures of everyday work. 
  • Fosters better communication, trust, and understanding among colleagues.  
  • Improve their problem-solving skills and develop a stronger sense of camaraderie.  

Ultimately, these positive team dynamics contribute to a more productive and enjoyable work environment for everyone. 

What are the different types of team-building experiences? 

Team-building experiences can take a variety of formats to enhance collaboration and communication within a group. These include: 

  • Outdoor activities: Engaging in physical activities outside the workplace fosters teamwork in a new environment. 
  • Indoor challenges: Problem-solving exercises conducted indoors can encourage creative thinking and communication within a team. 
  • Workshops and seminars: Educational sessions focused on teamwork and communication skills can provide valuable knowledge and tools. 
  • Volunteering and community service: Working together for a charitable cause can build camaraderie and social responsibility within a team. 
  • Team Retreats: Spending dedicated time away from the usual work environment allows teams to focus on collaboration and team development. 

How to create a team-building experience? 

Effective teamwork is essential for any organization's success. Following is how you can create a successful team-building experience: 

1. Identify your objectives 

Begin by defining the desired outcome of the team-building activity. Are you aiming to improve communication? Strengthen problem-solving skills? Or perhaps boost overall team morale? A clearly defined objective will guide your selection of activities and ensure the experience is focused and productive. 

2. Know your team 

Consider the size, personalities, and interests of your team members. This will help you choose an activity that is both engaging and accessible to everyone.  For instance, an introverted team might benefit more from a collaborative problem-solving challenge, while an extroverted group might enjoy a high-energy activity that encourages active participation. 

3. Plan the timeline 

Determine the timeframe for the team-building experience. Will it be a short activity integrated into a regular meeting, a dedicated half-day event to allow for in-depth exploration or a multi-day retreat for a more immersive experience? The ideal timeframe depends on your goals and your team's availability. 

4. Select the best activity 

Choose an activity that aligns with your goals and is suitable for your team. There are numerous options available, from creative brainstorming sessions to strategic escape rooms or collaborative games. Consider activities that encourage interaction and communication, while also providing opportunities for team members to discover and utilize each other's strengths. 

5. Align with team values 

Ensure the chosen activity reflects the team's core values and fosters a sense of shared purpose.  For example, if your team prioritizes innovation, consider a design thinking challenge.  A team focused on client satisfaction might benefit from a role-playing exercise that simulates client interactions. Aligning the activity with team values reinforces these values and strengthens the team's identity. 

6. Promote inclusivity 

Make sure everyone feels comfortable participating, regardless of background or skill level. Offer options for different abilities and encourage open communication. This might involve providing clear instructions, breaking down complex tasks into smaller steps, or offering alternative ways to contribute. An inclusive environment ensures everyone feels valued and fosters a stronger sense of team spirit. 

7. Reflection is key 

After the activity, hold a discussion to reflect on the experience.  What were the key takeaways? How can these learnings be applied to future teamwork?  Encourage honest feedback and open discussion to solidify the learnings and translate them into actionable steps for improved collaboration within the team. By reflecting on the experience, you can ensure that the team-building activity has a lasting positive impact. 

What are a few team-building experience ideas? 

Some effective team-building experience ideas include: 

1. Volunteer activity: Organize an opportunity for team members to work together for a social cause. This will build camaraderie and a sense of shared purpose. 

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Example: The New York City Parks Department offers a program where businesses can choose a park to care for. Companies can organize volunteer events to help keep the park clean and improve its environment and recreational areas. Over 40 companies have adopted more than 60 parks through this program, contributing 8,000 volunteer hours for activities like planting trees and picking up litter. 

2. Collaborative scavenger hunt: Plan a scavenger hunt that requires teamwork and problem-solving skills. This will encourage communication and collaboration among team members. 

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Example: Apptio Corporation, located in Durham, North Carolina, implemented a team-building scavenger hunt program designed by Dr. Clue. This initiative addressed the need for team relaxation and rejuvenation after a period of sustained high effort. The program facilitated collaboration and communication among team members engagingly and unexpectedly. 

3. Professional development workshops: Host workshops or seminars on skill development, industry trends, or leadership. These sessions will allow team members to learn from each other and build relationships. 

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Example: Palo Alto Networks has a program called FLEXLearn that helps employees gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their careers. FLEXLearn offers a variety of courses, from leadership training to communication skills, and lets employees choose what they want to learn. Employees can even get certified in the company's products and get help from mentors for extra support. 

4. Group sporting event: Organize a sporting event or activity for the team, such as a tournament or a casual game. This can help to break the ice and promote bonding among team members. 

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Example: MotorInc., an automobile company known for customer satisfaction and dedicated employees, identified a decline in employee morale and inter-departmental collaboration.

To address this, HR Manager hired external training experts to conduct a three-day offsite team-building program. The program focused on team inclusion and improving communication skills to tackle work challenges.

The program was well-received by employees. Positive results were reflected in the next employee survey, with increased employee satisfaction. This, along with improved collaboration, led to MotorInc.'s financial recovery within the next fiscal year. 

Case studies

Following are the two case studies to showcase the significance of generating team building experience. 

1. Amazon organize a thrilling scavenger hunt for 30 employees in Milan for enhanced employee engagement 

Amazon needs no introduction, and its approach to establishing employee engagement has always remained unique. Amazon recently was planning a conference in Milan and desired a "fun Scavenger Hunt" for their 30 employees.  

Issue

Since these employees didn't frequently work together, the goal was to create a team-building activity that would encourage exploration of the new city. Meanwhile, they wanted to foster camaraderie and connections within the group. Considering budget constraints for the conference's social events, a cost-effective solution was also a key factor. So, they collaborated with Wildgoose. 

Solution

Wildgoose proposed a perfect team-building activity for Amazon in Milan. They designed a Self-Managed Milan City Explorer Challenge; a high-tech scavenger hunts accessible through a mobile app on attendees' smartphones. 

The content creators at Wildgoose crafted unique challenges around Milan's history, culture, and landmarks. Teams navigated the city centre using the app, encountering trivia questions, photo opportunities, and interactions with locals.  

This activity fostered team bonding while allowing participants to experience the beauty of Milan. The teams used the app to form groups, download the software, and access the challenges. A live map guided them throughout the city.  An event manager monitored the activity online, scoring photos and videos, and keeping teams engaged. 

Nearing the end, the manager prompted teams to return to a designated finish point. A countdown timer added excitement as teams raced to complete final challenges.  Afterward, the client received links to a photo/video presentation and final scores to celebrate the winning team.

Result

Clients thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city through our engaging and interactive team challenge. The user-friendly app, accessible on personal devices, allowed Wildgoose to offer a flexible and cost-effective solution that maintained high attendee participation.  Furthermore, the remote support team ensured the client's confidence and provided the necessary guidance for a smooth, self-managed experience.

2. Deloitte holds exceptional team building experience to encourage a shared sense of community 

Deloitte, a multinational professional services network wanted to hold a thrilling event. They aimed to create a fun and engaging experience for all 140 employees, including a significant number of recent additions to their team.  The ideal event would encourage participation from everyone and provide a refreshing change of scenery by taking place outside of the office environment.

Solution

Deloitte sought The Big Smoke's assistance in planning a celebratory event for their summer party. The scavenger hunt proved to be the ideal solution for Deloitte's summer celebration. The Big Smoke designed a personalized hunt featuring challenging cryptic clues, puzzles tailored to their company, and activities that resulted in humorous video footage. This experience served as the perfect way to initiate their summer festivities. 

Result

This event provided a fun and engaging experience that fostered creativity and teamwork. More importantly, it allowed colleagues who may not have had prior opportunities for social interaction, gel properly with each other. It successfully removed participants from their usual work environment and encouraged collaboration, laughter, and a shared sense of enjoyment. 

Conclusion 

Team building experiences significantly contribute to employee engagement as it helps foster a sense of friendship, trust, and collaboration among coworkers. These activities help employees develop stronger relationships, which in turn leads to improved communication, problem-solving, and overall job satisfaction. However, to maximize the experience, try implementing Empuls. It helps organizations create a positive company culture, align employees with shared values, and drive multiple people initiatives from a single platform by: 

  • Running employee engagement surveys. Analyze engagement metrics and identify areas for improvement after each team-building experience.  
  • Running employee satisfaction and loyalty survey, namely the Pulse survey, by analyzing employee behavior and providing real-time actionable insights to improve company culture. 
  • Allowing for open communication and collaboration through one-on-one feedback and peer recognition.  

Enable continuous feedback and improvement throughout the employee lifecycle through real-time surveys, allow peer-to-peer recognition, and drive multiple people initiatives from Empuls. 

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Nagma Nasim

Nagma Nasim

Nagma is a content writer who creates informative articles, blogs & other engaging content. In her free time, you can find her immersed in academic papers, novels, or movie marathons.