When it comes to retaining talent in today's competitive job market, employee engagement is one of the most valuable aspects that workplaces can focus their resources on. Creating a strong team in an environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork is absolutely vital, and one way to do so is to hold effective team-building activities.
To uncover the most unique team-building activities that have been tried and tested by HR leaders, we asked 13 professionals from various industries to share their experiences. From a virtual escape room to hosting a Pride event, these executives reveal the creative ways they've fostered teamwork and the results they've achieved.
Magical Meetings Story Spine
We lead with "Magical Meetings Story Spine." This activity utilizes the power of storytelling and facilitation to foster team collaboration, communication, and creativity.
The "Story Spine" is a structured but flexible template for crafting and sharing stories. In our context, we adapted it to share the purpose, desired outcomes, and next steps for our meetings. Each team member is invited to contribute to this collective narrative, promoting engagement and shared understanding of our meeting's goals and expectations.
This activity fosters a creative and collaborative environment and enhances meeting effectiveness by aligning the team around a shared vision. It encourages active participation and gives every team member a stake in the meeting's success.
The results we have seen within our community are always positive. The Story Spine activity has not only improved the efficiency of our meetings but also strengthened team relationships and understanding, promoting a more cohesive and
Douglas Ferguson, President, Voltage Control
Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine Simulation
One unique team-building activity I highly recommend is the "Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine" simulation. This time-bound exercise creates a high-energy environment and pushes team members to think creatively and beyond the obvious to achieve success. The simulation is designed to connect every detail to job roles and the organization's context, making it highly relevant and impactful.
The key deliverables of this activity include identifying management styles, developing leadership skills, improving workload planning, boosting confidence in decision-making, enhancing communication skills, and fostering team bonding and collaboration.
The perceived results of this activity go beyond winning and focus on the overall success of the group. This team-building activity is an engaging and purposeful exercise that brings teams together, enhances various skills, and drives overall success by emphasizing collaboration and maximizing ROI.
Arundhati Chafekar, Principal Consultant, Vertical Lead – Learning and Strengths, NamanHR
Dining in the Dark
One of the most unique team-building activities a company can organize is dining in the dark to get a sensory experience that eases tension and allows employees to get to know each other while experimenting with dining in the dark, figuring out what they're eating, and having a lot of fun in the process.
Shutting off one of the senses helps motivate employees to share, interact, and use their other senses to collaborate and communicate together.
Jonathan Elster, CEO, EcomHalo
Virtual Escape Room
Looking for a unique team-building activity that boosts communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills? Look no further than a virtual escape room!
Our team recently tackled this challenge and emerged successful in under 30 minutes. Not only was it exciting and fulfilling, but the activity also had lasting benefits on our team dynamics, improving communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.
Overall, the virtual escape room is a fun and effective team-building activity that provides a welcome morale boost. I highly recommend it to any team looking to strengthen their bond and skills.
Travis Lindemoen, Founder, Enjoy Mondays
Take Your Pet to Work Day
Our entire staff works from home, and we did a virtual "take your pet to work day."
At the beginning of the day, we hopped on a Zoom call and showed our coworkers our pets. Throughout the day, we posted prompts in a designated Slack channel, for instance, "What's the weirdest thing your pet does?" and "Post a photo of your pet in disguise."
At the end of the day, we celebrated by unboxing a care package of branded treats for our pets. The result of this initiative was that employee morale rose immediately. In the following months, coworker relationships improved.
Many team members continued to share stories and pictures of their pets in that Slack channel, so it became an ongoing (yet low-lift) team-building activity.
Carly Hill, Operations Manager, Virtual Holiday Party
Nature Retreat and Outdoor Yoga
Our team went on a weekend getaway to a beautiful nature retreat, where we indulged in an invigorating outdoor yoga session. This wellness activity allowed us to connect more deeply, improved physical flexibility, and cultivated a shared sense of mindfulness. The peaceful surroundings and guided practices provided a soothing escape from work stress, allowing us to engage in open and meaningful conversations.
We returned to work with renewed energy, focus, and a shared commitment to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Normand Chevrette, President and CEO, CME Corp.
Latin American Food Tour Adventure
Right before the pandemic, I took my team on a Latin American food tour in the Corona neighborhood of Queens. We visited taquerias, bakeries, street carts, and fried food vendors. In the course of the tour, we walked a good two miles and managed to eat cuisine from nine different countries.
Trevor Ewen, COO, QBench
Blind drawing was a relatively simple team-building game that ended up becoming a training staple. To play, two players form a pair and sit back-to-back as a team. One player gets an image that they then have to describe to the other player to draw without saying directly what the image is. When time is up, the artist sees if what they heard is what they ended up drawing.
Blind Drawing is ideal for improving team communication, improving active listening skills, and learning to innovate to ensure a better outcome.
Max Schwartzapfel, CMO, Schwartzapfel Lawyers
Last week, we had our most unique activity so far. We went on SUPs (Stand-Up Paddleboarding). It was a beautiful afternoon, a perfect blend of adventure and camaraderie.
SUPs provided a refreshing break from the norm. The activity encouraged collaboration and communication as we balanced on the boards. It was really nice to see people help each other by carrying the boards, warning before coming too close, and giving pep talks to those of us who were scared. I am 100% sure that trust was strengthened that day. The serene backdrop of tranquil bodies of water allowed us to unwind and reduce stress. It created a peaceful environment for open conversations and bonding.
After we were done, pictures and stories were shared, and there was no end to chit-chat and laughter. In my decade in HR, I have never seen a team behaving as much as a close group of old friends. Ever since, our communication has been amazing, and it seems to me that great team dynamics were forged that day on the water.
Piotrek Sosnowski, Chief People and Culture Officer, Life And My Finances
One of the best team-building activities I’ve ever done was with my team at a paintball field. We’re all about creating a fun, safe, and inclusive work environment, so this activity was a perfect fit.
We played a few games of paintball and everyone was laughing and having a blast. It was a great way to bond as a team and I think we all came away from the activity with a new appreciation for each other.
Matthew Ramirez, CEO, Paraphrasing Tool
I can't speak enough about how fun organized cooking competitions are. We randomly draw partners and have two people team up. We've done this once a year for the last five years, and it's always a huge hit. It brings coworkers together who normally don't work together, and it makes them communicate and become creative with the mystery basket of ingredients.
Our judges have just as much fun tasting the meals that usually turn out terrible. We typically have five teams of two prepare a meal using specific ingredients. This promotes collaboration, time management, creativity, and the atmosphere changes drastically afterward. Everyone seems to be in a good mood after all the fun.
Seth Newman, Director, SportingSmiles
Two Truths and a Lie
Each team member has to come up with three statements about themselves—two of which are true, and one is false. Then, each statement is read out loud, and the rest of the team has to guess which statement is a lie. The person who guesses correctly gets a point.
The best part about this activity is that it's easy to play online, even via video conferencing. Plus, it's a great way for team members to get to know each other better while having fun.
During our session, we saw the more introverted team members opening up as they shared their statements. It helped in breaking down barriers and building trust amongst the group. And of course, the competitive spirit did wonders in boosting everyone's mood!
Johannes Larsson, Founder and CEO, JohannesLarsson.com
Our company participated in pride-related events as a team-building activity for the team. Our bi-annual team-building falls in June, which is also the global Pride Month celebration.
Since we have team members who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, we wanted to be inclusive and show them solidarity. We typically join the local pride parade as a company, then join the festivities and parties.
Doing this for two years in a row now has brought our young and dynamic team closer.
Khris Steven, Owner and Marketer, KhrisDigital
Effective team-building activities play a vital role in enhancing your organization's success. When your team members actively engage in these activities, they collaborate more efficiently and become more productive, ultimately boosting overall performance and profitability.
Moreover, team building fosters a sense of belonging, reduces turnover rates and absenteeism, cuts operational costs, and drives revenue growth, making team-building activities a vital part of your employee engagement and overall business strategies.
Subscribe to Beyond The Desk to get insights, important dates, and a healthy dose of HR fun straight to your inbox.Subscribe here