At Work

6 Team-Building Ideas That Will Change Your Employees’ Lives

Is team-building really the most important investment you can make in your workforce?

Not all leaders buy it. But few dispute that team-building is, on balance, a good thing for workplace cohesion and productivity. If nothing else, a well-organized team-building event helps stave off burnout while breaking down barriers to communication and cooperation.

Since your organization isn’t made of money, it’s important to keep your team-building budget in check. That means shorter, less extravagant excursions. Overnights are fine, perhaps even preferable for teams with flexible members, but you’ll want to visit that five-star resort you’ve been eyeing for years on your own dime.

Each of these six team-building ideas is budget-friendly and out of the ordinary, a rare combination. Which would fit your team best?

1. A Habitat for Humanity Build

“We’re an IT company,” you protest. “None of us know the first thing about building houses.”

You don’t need to — that’s the whole point. Habitat for Humanity’s experts handle all the heavy lifting, and keep volunteers safe to boot. Anyway, your crew is much handier than you realize. And finding a Habitat build near you is as easy as visiting this website.

2. A Wilderness Kayaking Adventure

Is your team too adventurous to play at building a house? Then a more rustic retreat is in order. Consider a wilderness kayaking adventure at the nearest state or national park. Kayaking offers a gentle learning curve and requires surprisingly little specialized equipment, according to Manitoba entrepreneurs Lori and David Janeson. Plus, it’s really fun.

3. A Field Day (Literally)

Two words: office Olympics. Commandeer your local park for a day and set up your own mini-track-and-field competition, minus the win-at-all-costs mentality. If it’s hot out, the water balloon toss is mandatory.

4. An Adopt-a-Highway Cleanup

Perhaps your organization has already adopted a highway or park or city square. Now it’s time to treat it like an extension of your own office. Give the team the afternoon off and have them gather (safely) at the cleanup site, gloved up and ready to take out the trash.

5. A Glamping Retreat

If a kayaking adventure sounds too rugged for your tastes, consider a wilderness retreat with a dash of refinement. Glamping — camping in powered, climate-controlled “tents” — is more popular than ever. Even the touchiest coworkers will oblige.

6. A Day at the Shelter

Here’s another low-key team-building idea that doubles as a great way to give back to your community’s least fortunate. 

If you live in a community of any size, you’re probably within a short drive of multiple homeless shelters in desperate need of volunteer hands. (Most are, unfortunately.) Why not set aside a few hours one afternoon or evening for your team to serve meals, clean common areas, and chat with clients? Hold a debriefing session afterward to discuss the day and find ways to incorporate what you learned (or didn’t) into your work. 

Great Things Happen Outside the Office

Sure, the office is where work happens, whatever that means. But is it the best place for your team to find inspiration?

After you’ve had your day (or weekend) at one of these team-building pursuits, you’ll probably think otherwise. Great things happen outside the office, too.

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