Corporate team-building events can be more than just a chance to socialize and have a good time. When this type of event is intentionally planned with a goal and outcome in mind, it can spark change, improve communication, strengthen relationships, and spark collaboration - so team members feel connected to the company’s mission and to each other. Put simply, investing in corporate team-building events has the potential to improve employee engagement, which can radically strengthen a company’s bottom line.
If your teams feel like a disconnected collection of colleagues, rather than a cohesive unit working in concert, then it’s time to consider planning an event for teams. In the following chapters, we will cover the essentials of these types of corporate events to help provide you with the information you need to move forward and succeed.
Simply put, team-building events are a variety of activities that an organization can put its employees through with the goal of increasing team morale and team effectiveness, ultimately positively affecting the company's bottom line and corporate culture.
“Team building refers to the various activities undertaken to motivate the team members and increase the overall performance of the team.” - Management Study Guide
Team-building events are the gathering of a single team, or many teams, to participate in a variety of activities with the primary goal of improving performance, morale, and collaboration.
Employees work more effectively, are happier, and are more engaged with their workplace when they trust each other, communicate and collaborate effectively, and feel like everyone is working towards a common organizational goal. If you are responsible for event-planning, it is important to understand the benefits of corporate team-building events and their importance so you know what you are aiming to achieve.
Well-designed team-building activities don't just promote connections between colleagues and build teamwork skills; they also support corporate priorities and organizational objectives. For example, if one corporate priority is to increase the bottom line, an activity designed to promote productivity or maximizing shared resources will align with that goal. If the organization's focus is on global expansion, then an activity that promotes strategic thinking or communication can support that goal. When you tie team-building activities back to the strategic objectives defined by the organization, it has the benefit of building stronger teams who are collectively focused and aligned on the overall corporate priorities.
Events that focus on teams are a great way to celebrate company successes. If your organization has successfully completed a culture transformation, implemented a major change initiative, or achieved one or more of its strategic goals, a team-building event can be a fun way to acknowledge the achievement and reinforce the momentum to continue forward on that path.
According to Harvard Business Review, engagement at work “...is associated with feeling valued, secure, supported, and respected.” Team-building establishes trust among colleagues, improves communication, and goes a long way toward creating a positive work environment. When work is fun and engaging, everyone wins.
Team-building activities run the gamut from classic ropes courses to focused training on team skills; most have the goal of instilling healthy, high-performance habits in your teams. Still, there are pros and cons to each type of activity, and because every organization faces different challenges and opportunities, what works for a team at one event may fall flat at another. Here is an overview of the common types:
Experiential team-building activities inject excitement and fun into company events, which helps improve attendee engagement. While they may feel like a game to attendees, the theme and highly interactive challenge mask the real-world learning that is happening. Experiential activities are the ideal combination of fun and relevant information that nearly every internal meeting planner is after. Not to mention, this kind of activity can happen anywhere, allowing event professionals to plan indoor or outdoor team-building games depending on the venue.
Physical activities are commonly used for outdoor team-building events and focus on fostering camaraderie in a group and improving team communication. The biggest drawback of this type of activity is that you have to consider that there may be people who cannot participate, so it may not be the most inclusive option available. Example: Golf, Axe Throwing, Go-Karts, Company-Run Sports
Team-building games are one of the most popular items you will find on a corporate event agenda. While teamwork games may have very little correlation to attendees’ lives on the job, they are a tried-and-true way to incorporate fun and boost collaboration. Example: Scavenger Hunt, Murder Mystery
By beginning with an icebreaker of sorts to help attendees get to know one another better, you overcome any formalities and are introduced to the overall tone of the company event. Example: Two Truths and a Lie, Company History, Things in Common
Networking and social activities at corporate team-bonding events give teams the opportunity to build relationships outside of the context of the workplace. When individuals know each other as people - and not just as coworkers—that can translate to higher team effectiveness. If you choose this type of activity, remember that introverted teams may struggle with the pressures of organized social interaction; this could result in them not fully enjoying themselves as much as you intend them to. Example: Organized Dinners, Brewery Tours, Potluck
It is common for organizations to use volunteering as a team-bonding activity because it unites teams around a common cause, which is a fantastic way to boost morale, highlight company philanthropic priorities, and foster a spirit of giving - both to others and each other. Example: Animal Shelters, Soup Kitchens, Local Charities
Investing in corporate team-building events has been shown to increase employee productivity, improve internal communication and collaboration, build trust, and ultimately lead to greater overall employee-retention rates. But in order to reap the many benefits that corporate team events have to offer, attendee engagement with the event is essential. Whether you are planning a team offsite, sales meeting, or leadership retreat, just to name a few, consider the following tips for planning team events that make an impact:
There is a reason that movie marketing includes teaser trailers leading up to launch. Building hype and excitement makes for better ticket sales, and if they are lucky, it turns the movie into an experience that people feel they simply have to be a part of. In the case of a corporate team-building event, attendance may be mandatory, but you can still use the same principles to get attendees excited in advance of the team bonding you have planned.
Go beyond a fancy, funny, or eyebrow-raising invitation. People love a good surprise, and a well thought-out pre-event communication strategy can help you give them one and boost attendee engagement on the day of the event. Rather than simply sending an email with details around the event, be creative and use different pre-event touchpoints like video, evites, formal invitations through the company mailing system, etc. to create mystery, anticipation, and excitement for what’s coming.
More and more attendees are wanting value out of their company gatherings. It’s not enough to simply select activities for a team-building event in hopes that they will make an impact and impress stakeholders. Corporate events today require a significant amount of strategy. While it is obvious that the purpose of team-building events is to strengthen collaboration and camaraderie in teams, there may be additional business objectives you can support and highlight throughout when putting together the corporate event agenda. Therefore, to get the most out of your event, you need to be specific with your goals and get stakeholder buy-in. Once you do, you are well on the way to event success.
When it comes to planning this type of event, success lies in selecting fun team-building activities that are also highly relevant and provide great content. For many event attendees, regardless of role or level in an organization, attending any event means spending precious time away from work. This leads to high expectations that the time they are required to spend away will be valuable and relevant. The attendees who do not find corporate events to be of value often cite a lack of new information or perspective, and a lack of practical application, as the things that negatively impact their experience. As such, when planning team-bonding activities, ensure that they are not only fun, but relevant and informative beyond event day.
When putting a corporate event agenda together for an event of this nature, do not forget to consider what could derail your plans, and build contingency plans as alternatives in advance. Doing so allows you to be considerate of your stakeholders’ investment, and prepared in case they reject your proposed team-building games and activities. It also goes a long way toward keeping your stress as the event planner to a minimum - you can rest easy knowing you have taken the time to foresee any roadblocks or challenges, and prepare plans to meet them head-on if they come to pass.
Staying within budget is a reality that event professionals have to live with, and executives want to see a benefit to their investment. Experienced event planners know that the benefit is not always tangible, but they should have some way to measure its impact. Therefore, when deciding how to spend your corporate event budget, weigh the benefits against the cost. If the investment will get you closer to reaching your goals, it’s probably a good one. If there is no real advantage to spending more money on certain expenses, reallocate those funds to the activities that will make the most impact in the eyes of attendees and stakeholders.
No corporate team-building event should be a “one and done” affair. These events usually require a significant investment, which means you should have an event reinforcement strategy in place to support attendees’ retention of event content and drive post-event ROI and impact. Consider implementing some of the following post-event retention techniques:
Though you’ll most likely use a mix of activities to achieve your event goals, there’s one type of activity we recommend you turn to again and again: experiential team-building events. This “learn by doing” approach to corporate events gives your attendees the chance to immerse themselves in fun, engaging scenarios while working together as a team. Say goodbye to the glazed-over look you often see attendees sporting during corporate event sessions!
Experiential events mirror workplace realities, and the skills learned during the event are immediately applicable when attendees return to their day-to-day accountabilities. What makes experiential events so powerful is that they act as team-building games that put attendees in scenarios that they must work through together. Fun, immersive scenarios that your team must band together to “win” are metaphors for the challenges they face on the job.
By using a metaphor, instead of a simulation that exactly mimics workplace realities, experiential activities encourage participants to be creative and take risks to solve the team’s challenges. That’s when real learning happens. If the activity too closely resembles common scenarios, their urge to take creative risks is inhibited - because no one wants to risk failure on the job!
In fact, the hands-on, metaphor-based nature of experiences is exactly what makes them an incredible team-building approach that provides a high ROI. When we fully engage and learn by doing, what we learn sticks with us far longer. Studies have shown that learning by doing can lead to retention rates as high as 75 percent. Compare that with traditional event sessions, such as presentations, lectures, or keynotes, that have retention rates as low as 5 percent.
What’s more, experiential activities are flexible enough to meet most organizations’ unique needs. The flexible design of experiences means that they work well for both small and large groups, as well as for attendees of various generations. Thanks to the scalability of these experiences, large groups can easily be broken up into small teams to work through scenarios, so every attendee gets the full benefit of the immersive nature of the activity. Experiential activities can also be tailored to different time constraints, depending on how much flexibility you have in your corporate event agenda.
The flexibility of experiential corporate events, more specifically experiential team-building activities, has a proven ability to produce lasting results, making them a top choice for organizations looking to revolutionize how they build and foster successful teams. As you explore ways to bolster your organization’s corporate events, look to experiential activities for team-building that lasts.
Team-building events that improve workplace performance, collaboration, morale, and so on, require both strategic planning and attention to detail. It is important to remember that these events are just one part of the overall company strategy. In order to truly succeed in this area, the enthusiasm generated must live on long after the event doors close, and provide real value for attendees and stakeholders.
If you find yourself planning a team-building event in the near future, know that you do not have to put a strain on your time and resources to plan a truly effective company event that improves team-building skills. You only need to find the right expert for your needs. Find an expert partner who will make the event as worry-free as possible for you, and is committed to flawlessly executing on their role in the event so you can focus on other areas. Choose a partner who will provide support every step of the way, offers some level of personalization for you to ensure that their service suits your event, and has a world-class team on their side to guarantee the outcome of your event.
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