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5 Team Building Activities That Boost Employee Engagement

Posted on November 26, 2014

Today’s workforce is dependant on teams that work together as a cohesive unit, and many companies engage in team building activities in order to bring teams closer together.

Whether it be trust falls, obstacle courses or karaoke, we’ve all been through the ringer with cliche team building activities. They can be fun, don't get me wrong. But once you start to hear groans when it comes to employee bonding, it might be time to switch things up a bit.

The main goal of team building activities is to bring employees closer together outside the office so they can form relationships and improve team cohesiveness.

Here are five ideas you can use for team building in your office:

1. Break the Ice

Joss and Main Founder, John Mulliken, introduced this getting to know you game when his company had a rapid expansion (growing from 3 to 75 employees in a little over a year). The idea is to have each of employee jot down five little-known fun facts about themselves. These lists are then handed out to each of your team members, with the objective to match an item to a person.

This is a great way to learn a little more about who you’re working with. Just keep in mind, these don’t have to be soul-bearing facts. Make it light and fun like “I accidentally lock myself out of my own apartment at least once a week.”

2. Take an Employee to Work Day

In a large organization it’s not uncommon for an employee to work solely within their department. This doesn’t mean that employees aren’t curious about what everyone else is doing. Instead of keeping everyone in their silo, try taking a few days out of the year where your team members can work with a new group.

There are a few different approaches you could take here. Each department could have their own day to shadow different departments for a day. This gives every team member the opportunity to observe how other departments function on day-to-day. Or each department hosts an open house where other employees ask questions and learn directly from their coworkers. It gives employees a great idea on how much it takes for the company to run smoothly.

3. Lunch and Learns

Lunch and learns are great for employee engagement and team building, and they are a fan favorite at the Vocoli offices. Getting an entire team together once a week (or however often) for lunch is a constructive idea. But instead of just doing a status update, try switching it up a bit with general presentations given by employees. Many employees have specific skill sets for their own unique jobs. Lunch and learns give the opportunity for group mentoring and for your team to learn new skills from their peers.

4. Provide a Mentoring Program

Mentorship programs are especially important for new hires but can show lasting benefits for the entire company if executed properly. For most people a mentorship program includes one senior member of an organization paired with a new employee. The senior member helps the new employee transition into the company and provides them with guidance and education. This is a great tactic for retention as well as acquainting an employee with more people in the organization.

Mentoring can also be beneficial with peer mentoring as well as reverse mentoring. Peer mentoring enables employees to bounce new ideas off of each other and get to know their co-workers better. While reverse mentoring can help with new technologies and fresh ideas.

The Hartford Insurance Company saw success with reverse mentoring when social media started to surface in the workplace. Social media can be a great tool for business but many people who didn’t grow up with social media didn’t understand how to use it. The Hartford started a reverse mentorship program where millennials coached older generations on Twitter and Facebook tactics. This was a great way to spread knowledge throughout the company and stay competitive with new technologies and advancements.

5. Promote Employee Hobbies

Fellow employees usually have a variety of unique interests both related to and outside of work. You can improve team dynamics by allowing your employees to find things in common other than where they work. Bain & Company organizes a ski trip to Maine every year for employees who are interested.

While bonding over who had the most wipeouts is fun, promoting employee hobbies don’t necessarily have to be big corporate outings. Something as simple as coordinating an office wide book club can get team members more involved in their work environment.

Main Takeaway

Use your imagination when it comes to team building activities. Not every team bonding experience has to be some cheesy exercise. When you appeal to your employees and their interests you have a much higher chance of engaging them and creating a cohesive company culture.

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