Team building exercises get a bad rap among employees. When workers hear the phrase, it often conjures up images of “trust falls” and disingenuous corporate leaders using yet another buzzword that makes eyes roll.
But team-building exercises can produce results, and they don’t have to be cheesy or expensive games that require far-away retreats or rock-climbing excursions that some employees may not even be interested in.
When done correctly, good team-building exercises improve communication, motivation, and problem-solving skills.
Here’s a list of low-cost, fun office Olympic events that will bring workers together and give them a break from the daily grind:
1. Can You Guess the Lie?
“Three Truths and a Lie” is a classic icebreaker game you can do anywhere that requires no tools and costs nothing.
All you need is three or more employees gathered in a circle. Each person takes a turn listing four facts about themselves, one of which is a lie that’s framed as something that could be true. Employees are then asked to guess which one is the lie.
It’s a fun game with low pressure that helps workers learn more about each other and build connections.
It also helps introverts come out of their shells, and it encourages workers to challenge preconceived stereotypes and notions they may have about their co-workers.
2. A Trip Down Memory Lane
“A Penny for Your Thoughts” is another simple game and icebreaker that helps workers get to know each other better.
Break workers into small teams of three or four and have them drop pennies or other coins into a box. Ensure the listed years on the coins aren’t older than the youngest member of the team.
Each worker then picks a coin from the box and then shares a memory or something special that happened to them based on the listed year on the coin they selected.
Employees will gain insights about each other, build connections, and get to socialize in a low-key way in this fun game.
3. Tell Me a Story
This game uses storytelling to build bonds between workers.
Teams of employees break up into small groups and share common workplace experiences, which helps them learn more about each other, re-live old work-related memories, and relate to each other about commonalities.
Create a set of trigger words to prompt a storytelling session, such as “first day at the office” or “best work travel experience.” Add the words to sticky notes and post them on a whiteboard.
Each team member is then asked to pick a trigger word and use it to share an experience. As the person shares their story, other team members write down words that remind them of similar work-related stories.
Repeat the process, and by the end of the exercise, the team will have shared a multitude of common workplace experiences.
4. Enter the ‘Shark Tank’
Playing a mock game of the popular TV show will encourage teamwork, creative thinking, problem-solving, and entrepreneurship.
Set up teams of two or three workers and have them develop an idea (or “pitch”) for something that will improve business at your company. Then pick three “Sharks” from your workers who can act as the judges.
Give the teams time to work together to develop their pitches, and then present them to the Sharks. Have the winning team earn a prize, even if it’s just gift cards to a popular local store or restaurant.
This exercise can be a win-win for everyone. Workers learn to collaborate and think about the big picture regarding your business, and they may even come up with ideas that you can implement.
5. Create a Scrapbook
Here’s an exercise that can happen over time to create a living document of the culture in your office.
Buy a large, blank scrapbook and leave it in a common area, such as the break room. The book can have prompts or questions that suggest things employees can write and draw inside.
Encourage workers to record memories and fun moments from the office, paste pictures or leave inspirational quotes or quotes from their favorite movies or books (that are safe for work, of course).
It’s a good idea to also set down guidelines, such as no profanity and nothing offensive.
This is another low-cost activity that encourages creativity, a little office humor, and sharing of memories that will bring employees together.
In the end, you’ll have scrapbooks that highlight where your workers have been and how far they have come.
An hour or two for board games allows workers to engage in strategic thinking, collaboration, and creation of fun office memories.
6. Play Some Board Games
Board games have had a resurgence lately, and there are several of them you can bring to the office. A board game lunch with provided snacks is a fun and easy activity that lets workers loosen up and get to know each other.
Choose board games where workers aren’t pitted against each other but instead ones where they work as a team. There are a plethora of team-based games out there today, and a simple Google search yields great results.
Which Team Building Exercises Work For You?
If you have ideas about team-building exercises that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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