Let’s do a little word association: Team bonding. Icebreakers. Trust-building exercises.
Be honest…did you roll your eyes? We wouldn’t blame you! These “fun” activities have a tendency to be anything but.
However, when done right, bonding activities and events can be a great strategy for boosting employee retention, team synergy, and office productivity. Still skeptical? Stick with us as we dig into this often overlooked and utterly invaluable tool.
Team Bonding…what’s the point?
It’s a valid question! When you’re starting a small business, it can feel unthinkable to sacrifice time and money for a company bowling night. But as frivolous as this spending may seem, it’s a long-term investment that will do wonders for your workplace.
Team bonding activities:
1. Build Community
What makes a terrible job bearable? If you asked, 100% of workers would say, “The people.” (Not a real statistic, but you get the idea.) And 62% of workers with one to five work friends said they would reject an outside job offer, and that increases to 70% for workers with six to 25 work friends. (That is a real statistic.)
Now, of course we don’t condone you having a terrible working environment wherein your employees need to bond over the traumatic experience of working for you. If that’s your vibe, you’ve got some other serious problems to address. What we are saying is that positive work relationships can drastically improve a person’s job satisfaction and quality of life.
These relationships can be built through osmosis for some people, but others will need some prompting. Get your team out of the office to encourage casual conversation and discover commonalities—your employee turnover rates and training costs will thank you.
2. Develop Trust and Communication
Let’s just get this out of the way: we’re not talking about cringey trust-fall exercises here. Leave that for The Office. True trust-building exercises are ones that push employees to be their authentic selves…to be vulnerable!
These activities should encourage silliness and messiness. Management needs to lead the way here! When a team leader sings off-key on karaoke night or allows herself to look ridiculous during an air guitar competition, she gives permission for the rest of the team to do the same.
Planning activities that require teamwork are just as important as those that are meant to facilitate casual conversation. When a team is given a non-work related task, they have to think outside the box to achieve their goal. Some particularly effective (and fun!) activities for encouraging this creative collaboration include:
- Escape rooms
- Corporate workshops at local improv clubs
- Downtown scavenger hunts
And these activities aren’t just for fun. Four out of five executives agree that effective coordination and collaboration are crucial for growth. Trust and communication among teams is vital for eliminating silos and increasing productivity and profit long-term.
3. Flatten the Hierarchy
If you haven’t heard us talk about “flattening the hierarchy” before, you need to go back and read our article on servant leadership. When you reduce or eliminate hierarchical levels, you’ll boost autonomy, creativity, morale, collaboration, and efficiency.
In a company-wide softball match, there’s no time to be concerned with status! Senior-level executives will be playing right alongside interns, giving people the ability to be seen as…people. Events like this drive home the fact that someone’s job title is the least interesting thing about them.
As we noted, these team building activities can also be a fantastic tool for cross-department collaboration. If you’ve been looking for a way to align your sales and marketing teams, this is it!
4. Make Work Fun!
When work’s a drag, employees are less productive (1.7 times less productive, to be exact) and 70% more likely to be on the hunt for a new job. We can’t say it enough: It’s not frivolous to make space in your budget for fun. If you needed permission from an accountant to spend money on fun, you’ve now got it!
You can’t expect a canoe trip to fix any deep structural issues that may be causing poor employee productivity, but it might just be the perfect cure for a pesky case of the blahs or a bout of spring fever!
How do you build activities that people won’t hate?
Aye, there’s the rub. When people are volun-told to meet in the conference room for a compliment circle, they’re not going to be happy campers. For team bonding that elicits results, not eyerolls, you’ll need to put in more effort.
Consider sending out a survey to employees for their input, or hold a quick meeting to gather suggestions. Your ideas for team bonding should always come from your team. If they’re coming up blank, you can throw out these suggestions to start the conversation:
- Trivia night
- Outdoor activities (e.g. hiking, camping, sports leagues)
- Community service
- Happy hour
- Pottery or paint night
The sky’s the limit! Plus, you’ll notice several of these require little to no spending on your part.
After each event, be sure to solicit feedback from your workers. Team bonding isn’t something that you can just set and forget! Be prepared to make tweaks to find that winning formula for small business success.
Here’s one last fact of the day: you’ll never find that winning formula if you spend all your time worrying about bookkeeping and budgets! Contact KYN today to get that stress off your plate. Leave the financial stuff to us, so you can focus on what matters most…taking care of your team!