Goodbye, trust falls. Hello, epic scavenger hunts! For too long, corporate team building games have been viewed as silly or pointless, but these activities have evolved and are capable of creating a welcoming, fun workplace culture.
Team building games have been proven to increase employee satisfaction and trust, according to OfficeVibe, which means more engaged employees—and engaged workers are good for the bottom line, productivity, and overall employee retention. At the end of the day, the most successful and memorable team building activities are those that don’t feel like a day at the office, so break your employees out of the work routine.
Whether you’re looking for a quick pre-meeting team building activity or planning a full-day retreat, here are three types of indoor corporate team building activities and some examples of each to boost your company’s overall productivity:
1. Games to Encourage Living the Culture
As the great management guru Peter Drucker (probably) said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Company culture contributes to the identity of your company, and a strong culture will attract—and retain—better talent, especially millennials, who value a good company culture above all else.
Would you believe that 84 percent of participants in a PwC study rank culture as the most important component of organizational success, and that 51 percent said their organization needs a “major culture overhaul”?
To encourage your team to live the company culture, try playing Mad Libs Mission (or Values) Statement to revise your company’s values so they reflect your desired culture and are more relatable to employees. Start by asking how many of your employees actually know your organization’s mission statement. You might be surprised how few know it or feel like they can relate to or understand it. The goal of this activity is to relax an often stuffy aspect of the company and encourage your team—through experiential learning—to internalize and live your company’s mission or an actionable version of your vision.
This game removes jargon and top management speak in order to create a relatable, fun, meaningful mission statement that everyone feels embodies the organization and its values. Here is how it works:
- Take your vision/mission statement and remove nouns, verbs, adjectives, and other key pieces of the sentences to create a Mad Libs-style format.
- Print and distribute with instructions for filling in the words.
- Participants divide into pairs/teams and fill in the blanks, or different divisions or work teams can collaborate to come up with one word at a time.
- Once each pair or team has filled out all of the words, each group reads back the new mission statement.
- Go through the process a few times until there’s a mission statement that everyone agrees upon.
As an alternative, tell the group how many nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on that you need and have them come up with the words based on the team/company (e.g., instruct them to come up with 10 adjectives that they would use to describe the marketing team). This creates a bit more mystery and fun, but encourages them to think thoughtfully about keywords related to the company. Make sure to provide a time limit to keep everyone focused.
Another example of a corporate team building activity is Council of the Marble Star, which challenges teams to live the company culture through integrity and corporate values. Taking place in King Arthur’s court, this team building game is highly experiential and guides participants in the challenge of making money while forging relationships—all while upholding cultural values—in order to earn a spot on the Council of the Marble Star. Challenging teams to succeed in both profits and values, this Eagle’s Flight favorite shows that how you achieve a result is just as important as the result itself.
2. Games to Encourage Cooperation and Collaboration
Fostering a work environment where communication and collaboration happen naturally can be tough. When even the “mere perception of working collectively on a task can supercharge” a team’s performance, isn’t it worth working on corporate team building games that encourage collaboration and productivity?
One classic team building activity is The Scavenger Hunt, which can break down the walls of office cliques and send employees into parts of the workplace they’ve rarely visited. Scavenger hunts create team collaboration and nurture problem-solving skills across departments, giving employees a chance to see the strengths and talents of their coworkers.
Whether you opt to go old-fashioned and do a paper scavenger hunt, or build a mobile scavenger hunt, the options are truly endless. Here are some tips for a memorable scavenger hunt:
- Split employees into teams that they might not otherwise put together, combining individuals across departments and specialties.
- Start somewhere other than your typical workspace. If your building has several floors, move your team to a different floor or start in the lobby.
- Focus the hunt on clever riddles that encourage each team to collaborate and listen to one another in order to find office supplies.
- Alternatively, focus on a scavenger hunt list that requires teams to take photos together after figuring out the answer to a question or puzzle (e.g., “Take a photo of the employee with the most pets.”).
- Make sure to set a time limit!
- The winning team can be the one that has collected the most points for completing the most tasks.
When the hunt is over, make sure to reward the winning team with something small, whether it’s a quick coffee outing or team lunch.
3. Games to Boost Problem-Solving Skills
As technology changes how the workplace functions, workers are required to adapt and develop problem-solving skills to keep up. According to some reports, 50 percent of jobs that exist today won’t even be around in 2025.
For example, a printing typesetter in the 1940s would have had to adapt to phototypesetting in the 60s and 70s and then desktop publishing in the 80s in order to keep up and keep working. Although nobody painstakingly places every letter to be printed on a plate for printing, there are still publishing professionals that digitally “set” type.
As the pace of the modern workplace continues to accelerate, having solid problem-solving and adaptation skills is vital. Problem-solving chops are also one of the main things managers say millennials are lacking in the workplace. All around, problem-solving activities can be a game changer and are also a great opportunity to boost team collaboration.
To really tap into your team’s problem-solving skills and promote team building, turn to a classic: The Egg Drop. This game creates an atmosphere where teams have to work on multiple skills: communication, creativity, collaboration, teamwork, and productivity.
The goal of The Egg Drop is to have teams successfully build a container to support a raw egg drop from a height of six to eight feet. Here is how to make it happen:
- Separate participants into teams, whether by division or department or by mixing individuals across disciplines.
- Give teams countless recyclable materials, like boxes, paper, foam, tissue paper, sponges, and so on.
- Provide teams with instructions regarding the goal of building a container out of the materials provided within a set time frame.
- GIve awards for fastest time as well as sturdiest structure.
Encourage teams to communicate about a plan on paper first, and then work together to build, experiment, and build again.
Another great workplace team building game is Eagle’s Flights Coral Banks Construction Company, which—much in the vein of The Egg Drop challenge—requires teams to work together to construct a perfectly engineered bridge to span and protect a delicate ecosystem. Focused on building leadership, communication, and cooperation, Coral Banks Construction Company shows how the impossible is achievable when the right team works together toward a common goal.
These activities will also encourage persistence, which teaches teams to productively pivot and persist—no matter the workplace challenge.
The Final Word on Team Building Games
Remember: Corporate team building games aren’t effective in a vacuum. Be clear on your objectives. For example, if boosting productivity is your goal, make sure you’re planning activities that support that goal. If all else fails, consider bringing in board games and having a team building board game break. Trivial Pursuit, Ticket to Ride, and collaborative games like Pandemic are good bets.
With a little creativity, planning, and emphasis on fun, your company will be reaping the benefits of corporate team building games in no time.