How to get team-building exercises right

From booking an escape rooms experience to travelling abroad, let yourself be inspired by these companies’ team-building events

How to get team-building exercises right

Team-building is often seen as the most annoying form of box-ticking. Indeed, forcing cringe inducing scenes to lure workers out of comfort zones can spark flashbacks to primary school icebreaking. But conjuring up inventive exercises can spell cohesion for your team.

Let’s face it, constantly recruiting replacements can be costly with employee turnover annually averaging at rates of 15%, according to Monster, the job site. So getting team-building exercises right can be great way of boosting your retention. Luckily for you, we’ve spoken with a few businesses to find out what they do to and how their ideas can inspire you.

Let’s start with James Crawford, managing director at PR Agency One, the PR firm, is above average. Recognising the importance of brining the team closer together, he’s splashed out on pre-Christmas staff weekends to Amsterdam, Budapest and Copenhage for the past few years to keep employees hooked. However, he explains that it’s not the actual trips that bring the team members closer. “Rather than setting cringe team-building tasks or exercises, we find the real life task of deciding where and when to go, what to do, how much it should cost and how to get there is enough to bring people together,” he explained. By accommodating for individualism on these holidays, no one feels obliged. “We often see people take up roles within the team specifically as a result of this, or even form teams within teams. For example, those who want to go sightseeing will often organise their own excursion, whilst others may want to enjoy local culture in a different way.” Not only does he believe this will encourage staff to stay but also help new hires feel they landed a great gig.

However, you don’t need to go on an extravagant trip with your employees and have them help you plan it. Some times it may be enough to just book a fun day out with a unique experience like trying to solve riddles in an escape room. “Think of escape rooms in London or the Crystal Maze, however this is tailored for staff to support and help each other escape,” explains Michelle Raymond, HR and business growth specialist at The People’s Partner, the HR consultancy, when speaking with Elite Business. “It’s best done on site and the pop up can be themed to suit the needs of the organisation. They have to work together, provide sound and clear advice and encourage each other.” Pulling together through tough situations is crucial preparation for any job so why not make it a part of your team-building exercise?

But organising a fun event can be difficult when all your employees are scattered across the country. In fact, it’s an expensive idea many companies would dismiss. However, Access Self Storage, the storage service, made long distance relationships work for their 57 stores through social media. “At Easter each store collects eggs for local charities and at Christmas each store collects presents for local charities,” says Kevin Pratt, internal coordinator at Access Storage. “Not only do the store teams like competing with each other but staff feedback has shown they really value it as a team-building exercise and love seeing the results of their efforts highlighted to the rest of the company via blogs and social media.” As well as capitalising on festivities, raising money for charity is an organic way to connect working and personal life.

Indeed, Feel Good Contacts, the contact lense e-tailer, makes a habit of organising charity team-building runs for a new cause every year. “Fundraising provides everyone with a joint goal to push for allowing people to get competitive if they wish but mostly to encourage everyone to spend some of their own time towards something for a good cause,” says Nimesh Shah, managing director of Feel Good Contacts.

Other exercises may seem slightly left field at first still has a point. Case in point: Team Tactics, the corporate events company, has created a day where team members can cuddle with each other for a day. Under a Moroccan themed tent, an average work day is replaced by embracing with up to 20 colleagues. “Team-building is at the centre of our business and we’re always looking for new ways to help employees across the UK become more connected with their colleagues,” says Tina Benson, managing director at Team Tactics. With science proving skin-on-skin contact promotes social wellbeing, this idea may not be a bad one.

Whether it’s offering an eight hour-long hug or being stuck in an escape room, there are a variety of ways you can shake the team-building stigma for a cohesive workplace.

Angus Shaw
Angus Shaw

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