What do you think of when you hear the phrase “team-building event?” Perhaps your mind conjures images of hot-shot executives playing laser tag or knocking back a few drinks while playing golf. Perhaps you think of a cheesy workplace “get-to-know-you” game or sparsely-attended company picnic. While those clichés about team-building do have a basis in reality, they also seriously undersell the value of such events and exercises to employee morale.
Indeed, the American workplace has slowly evolved from a highly competitive atmosphere to one of cooperation. As such, it’s become increasingly important for businesses to make sure their employees not only get along, but know each other well enough to work together at maximum efficiency. What’s more, team-building isn’t merely the domain of flashy Fortune 500 companies—it’s also incredibly valuable for small businesses.
Of course, it’s not feasible for every small business to hold a company picnic with balloons, barbecue, and printed banners. Sometimes the budget or manpower simply doesn’t exist to pull it off. But even the smallest companies can benefit from simple team-building events and outings. Something as simple as throwing a birthday party for an employee can be considered a team-building exercise, and there are plenty of other budget-friendly options out there for businesses to take advantage of.
The best activities for team building, of course, involve fun challenges or obstacles that employees must work together to solve. These kinds of collaborative exercises will be the focus of our discussion. Sure, they’re a little pricier than a simple birthday party or picnic, but even if the cost of hosting one of these events seems steep, consider the important benefits of doing so.
Team-Building Can Improve Productivity
In addition to helping everyone get to know each other better, team-building exercises also help employees learn to work together better. When employees learn to work together effectively as a team, productivity and efficiency go up.
Just think about it: a team that knows how to get things done will spend less time correcting work errors, less time settling miscommunications, and less time—well, wasting time on the minutia of the task at hand.
And that’s exactly what team building activities can do. They give employees the chance to identify ways they can work together better; ways they can improve their collaborative process so that there’s less back-and-forth, less uncertainty, and more confidence. That really is the key: a confident team is an efficient one.
It Can Increase Motivation and Confidence
As we talked about earlier, confidence is key to a happy, productive, and efficient team of employees. Team-building activities are a great way to inspire that confidence, and along with it: motivation.
When employees succeed in team building activities, their confidence—and thus, motivation—increases. The fact that their employers are actually invested in their professional success can be another confidence boosting/motivation increasing benefit.
And don’t forget: the most important benefit of “team-building” is right there in the name. The goal is to get employees to trust and respect one another (yes–even if they don’t personally like each other). Employees are far more motivated when they feel confident that they’re a valued part of the team, and know they can rely on their fellow teammates, as well as be relied upon.
It Can Help Employees Be More Creative
Whether we realize it or not, we all tend to place social limits on our workplace creativity. Being unsure of how others will react to our ideas can be a big hindrance to coming up valuable creative solutions to work-related problems.
To encourage creative thinking, choose a team-building activity that requires outside-the-box thinking. For example, an “escape the room” adventure is a kind of team-building activity that requires everyone to work together creatively. In these scenarios, a group of people are locked in a room together and must follow clues and solve puzzles to escape. This fosters a kind of creative collaboration that can ultimately transfer back into the workplace.
No matter which team-building activity you choose, remember the fundamental principle that makes these exercises so valuable to a business: when your employees are happy, having fun, thinking outside-the-box and totally confident in their ability to work well with everyone else—they will shine, and everybody reaps the rewards.