Let’s face it, all work and no play can take a toll on anyone. No matter how great your boss is or how good the work environment, daily work can build up a lot of stress resulting from project deadlines, evolving customer requirements and professional goals we set for ourselves.
We all need a break or two from the regular grind. However, taking days off regularly from work is not a solution either. This is where team building exercises come in.
Workplace Stress – it is real
The importance of investing time and money in team building exercises can be gauged by the continuous rise in stress levels amongst employees. Workplace stress can often lead to issues such as employee disengagement, unnecessary work disputes (some in the form of verbal and physical abuse) and overall unsatisfied customers.
Among other statistics, one staggering finding by The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work is that more than half of the 550 million working days are lost annually in the U.S. due to absenteeism stemming from stress.
On the other side of the fence, companies commonly face ordeals with reference to employee retention, disengagement and missed deadlines. The average cost of stress for the U.S. industry is approximated to over $300 billion on an annual basis.
This cost can incur in the form of accidents, absenteeism, employee turnover, diminished productivity, direct medical, legal, and insurance costs and workers’ compensation awards as well as tort and FELA judgments.
Promoting Team Bonding and Trust
All of the above-mentioned factors create the need for opportunities through which teams can strengthen their relationships, go beyond the basics to connect with colleagues as human beings and not just team members.
These opportunities can be created through team building exercises and games. Such exercises not only lighten up the strain caused by continuous work pressure but also help create a more innate understanding between teams so they can stay more engaged at work and have fewer misunderstandings.
Here are 6 team building exercises you can implement today to improve team relationships. You can schedule them on a weekly or quarterly basis.
1. The Paper Tower
Time Required: 5 minutes
Objective: Teaches the importance of planning, timing, and thinking on one’s feet.
Encourage your team for this simple planning game in which participants are only provided a single sheet of paper. Each participant needs to construct the tallest, free-standing structure within a short span of time comprising only five minutes.
After all the participants are done trying their luck, the team can discuss the strategies adopted, how the time could be optimized, and how can it be made better the next time.
2. Campfire Stories
Time Required: 45 minutes
Objective: Encourage openness and trust.
The 2nd spot on our list of the best team building exercises goes to Campfire Stories. This has to be a favorite for most people. This storytelling activity can be a lot of fun with a make-believe campfire within the office even if there is no time to go on a bonfire in real. As a real camping bonfire, the team sits in a circle and each person tells a story regarding a memorable workplace experience.
You can make it more interesting by keeping a box filled with cards having words depicting situations. For example, “on the field”, “last-minute plan change”, “travel trouble”, etc. You would be surprised how many people share similar experiences with each other.
3. Truth and Lies
Time Required: 30 minutes
Objectives: Encourages attention to others and openness.
This game is great if you want your team to know more about each other. The team members write 3 things about themselves: 2 truths and 1 lie.
The rest of the team needs to guess which statement is a lie. This game isn’t much for competition but it can definitely lighten up the work atmosphere with a few surprises and a bit of laughter.
Time Required: 30 minutes
Objective: Works towards teamwork and present-mindedness.
This classic game is one of the best team building exercises to be adopted on any level in an organization. As per the rules, the team is divided into groups of 3 or 4. One person of a certain team needs to hint the number of syllables and act out a phrase or a word without speaking, while the other team members guess the object or the phrase.
Note the time and see which team is faster at guessing their team member’s hints.
5. Scavenger Hunt
Time Required: 15-30 minutes
Objective: Encourages teamwork, thinking on one’s feet and creative thinking.
#5 on our list of the best team building exercises is Scavenger Hunt. This can be a lot of fun with some added improvisations. The idea is to scatter some objects across an area, which can be a large hall or a set of rooms and corridors. Each person gets a list of items to find.
Employees have the choice to play individually or in pairs. The person or team that find everything on the checklist is the winner.
6. Silver Lining
Time required: 30-60 minutes
Objective: Focusing on the bright side and looking from different perspectives.
This team building exercise is similar to campfire stories except it focuses on the individuals recalling a negative memory i.e. the dark cloud. It can be office related e.g. a dispute with a team member. After the person finishes narrating the incident, other team members are to re-narrate the story focusing on the positive things i.e. mention the silver lining.
This gives two perspectives of the same story. This exercise does not require any special setting and can be done anywhere at any time.
How about trying some of these team building exercises with your team? Share your experiences in the comments below, we’d love to hear these exercises helped you and your team.