Over the years, corporate bonding and company outings have been viewed in a negative light. They’re often seen as cheesy, wasteful, and forced. But, there’s certainly a great deal of value to be extracted from them. Erase the negative stigma of company outings by choosing events that your team will actually enjoy.
Why Does Team Bonding Matter?
As an employer, you’re constantly focused on things like productivity, output, and ROI. So, the thought of stepping away from work and doing something that doesn’t directly impact any of these three things can seem wasteful and costly. But, the reality is that team bonding activities and outings have a far greater impact on long-term productivity, output, and ROI than you could ever imagine.
Despite its lame reputation, entrepreneur Brian Scudamore is quick to point out the high return companies can procure from an investment in team building. “It builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration,” he explains. “Effective team building means more engaged employees, which is good for company culture and boosting the bottom line. It can also be adventurous and enjoyable if you do it with a little pizzazz.”
The key is to avoid team building that feels cheesy or corporate. This means ditching the icebreaker games in the conference room and building memories outside the office. “Activities that overtly aim to draw in leadership lessons or practical takeaways are less powerful,” Scudamore notes. “Spending time together, sharing an experience or working towards a common goal allows bonding to happen more organically and far more effectively.” The sooner this is realized, the better results you’ll see.
Five Team Bonding Ideas Guaranteed to be Successful
When brainstorming ideas that your employees will actually enjoy, think about the following characteristics: memorable, exciting, adventurous, unique, and goal-oriented.
But don’t worry, you won’t have to think too much this first time around. Here’s a list of potential corporate bonding ideas that you can reference and choose from.
When there’s a goal in place, team bonding happens much more naturally and more quickly than it would without a tangible objective. This is why volunteering is such a great way to build bonds between various team members. Here are a few specific ideas that could be tailored to your group according to location and need:
- Serving meals. If there’s a homeless shelter in your area, there is probably a need for volunteers to help with various programs – particularly cooks and servers for meals. Not only does this force your employees to get out of their comfort zone and interact with people they may not otherwise engage with on a daily basis, but it also shows them what selfless teamwork looks like.
- Habitat for Humanity. There’s nothing more effective than seeing something created from the ground up. Get your team together and encourage them to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity. This requires hard work, sweat, discipline, and patience. It’s a fantastic way to identify leaders and encourage people to take ownership of their work.
- Fundraising. Is there an organization in your area that needs help fundraising? Give your employees the chance to go door-to-door and raise money. In addition to helping a charity and encouraging your employees to work together in a non-work setting, this is a wonderful opportunity to meet people and increase your brand’s visibility in the community.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer and your employees can gain a lot of value from experiences like these.
2. Whale Watching
One of the most effective ways to produce strong bonding is to participate in an activity that your employees have never done before. This ensures it will be memorable and powerful.
Whale watching is one great example. We’re willing to bet that most employees haven’t done this, and it makes for a great bonding experience that will be discussed for weeks and months to come.
“Whale-watching trips usually depart in the mornings, with many operators offering afternoon excursions also,” Expedia points out. “Cruises typically operate in all but the heaviest weather, and generally run from 2 to 4 hours. Overnight and multiday experiences are also popular in some regions.”
If your company is located near a coastal community where whale watching is common, then this is a no-brainer. But even if you’re in a landlocked state, you should consider scheduling a whale watching outing as part of your next business trip or getaway.
3. White Water Rafting
Want to get the adrenaline pumping? White water rafting is great because it combines adventure, teamwork, excitement, risk, and reward. Individuals must work together to steer the boat, stay safe, and get back in the boat if it capsizes.
Unlike whale watching, white water rafting courses can be found in almost any state. Natural courses are obviously the best, but there are manmade courses in some areas that are just as fun. Consider visiting one of these sites and making a day out of it.
4. Room Escape Game
Have you ever heard of Breakout? It’s a new game that’s popping up in cities all over the country – and everyone’s talking about it. The game consists of a room, a story, and an objective (escape the room). Everyone is placed in a room with props and a “game master” and you get 60 minutes to find clues and escape the room.
“We offer something more than your average trust fall, where officemates, classmates and teammates can breakout with a real life adventure where everyone has a part to play,” Breakout confidently claims. “All you need is a willingness to put your heads together and try something new.”
5. Professional Sporting Events or Concerts
You don’t have to do something totally new or extravagant to help your team bond, though. Sometimes, something as simple as attending a sporting event or concert can help your team create memories together.
Scudamore still remembers a time when his team went to an Eric Church country music concert simply because the company’s COO was named Erik Church and had always wanted to go.
“There was no explicit lesson about leadership or communication as we spent the night drinking beer and practicing our two-step,” he says. “But the experience brought everyone closer together and in the end we learned that there’s no better way to understand someone than to walk a mile in his cowboy boots.”
If you have a large enough group, you can usually get a discounted rate on tickets. This is especially true if you’re attending a professional sporting event on a weeknight. Contact the box office to inquire about deals.
Help Your Team Bond
Ultimately, it’s up to your employees to bond with one another and form healthy connections that move your business forward. However, you can speed up the process and strengthen relationships by hosting effective corporate bonding events that employees actually want to take part in.
For best results, try planning at least one major event per quarter and host it during work hours so that employees know they are expected to participate. Eventually, should you choose the right events, employees will begin to look forward to these dates. That’s when you know you’re doing it right.