“Hello, everybody. Today we’re going to work on team building. How fun!” says the HR guy who got conned into hosting the latest boring, morale-building team exercise courtesy of a shiny plastic $50 gift card — probably to Sheetz or Starbucks. All this guy encourages is pencil-through-the-temple boredom.
It’s time to break out of the dreaded, mandatory team building exercise rut that most businesses dug themselves into.
Who wants to catch Joe from sales as he falls backward into the latest trust exercise? Just no.
Companies need to stop subjecting their employees to this torture. It’s time to switch it up.
From Humans vs. Zombies to giving back to your community, here are six ideas to make team building more fun.
1. Humans vs. Zombies
In 2005, a group of Goucher College students got together and invented Humans vs. Zombies — which is basically taking “The Walking Dead” TV show and live action role playing (LARPing) and fusing them to create a globally popular game focusing on working as equals to cooperate for survival.
It’s got all the feel-good stuff — plus zombies.
Humans vs. Zombies is a moderated tag game that even comes with its own software to help you organize your version. There’s a recommended list of gear, too.
The point is zombies don’t discriminate — not against gender, sexual identity, race or food allergies. They just want to eat you. Can you survive?
2. Go Deep or Go Home
They say families who eat dinner together every night stay close. Well, work families who adventure together innovate to superior success.
How about spotting great white sharks? No? Go caving to deepen team relationships and escape the rat race by heading to the Rat’s Nast in Canadian Rockies — or pretend you’re in a cave and clean out the creepy basement of your commercial property instead. Someone should dress up as a ghost if you do.
3. Game of Ingenious Possibilities
You’ll need five minutes for this game and a bunch of random objects. Yes, a unicorn mask is required. This wacky 5-minute game encourages rapid brainstorming, creativity and innovation sure to make your team laugh.
One team or multiple teams can participate. Give one object to each person on the team, and individually, each team member goes to the front to demonstrate what the object does or what its purpose is. The team member demonstrating cannot say anything, and eccentricity is encouraged. For example, the unicorn mask is really a back-scratcher used by a gigantic space ant.
Each team member takes turns. At the end, give out awards or time each demonstration to make it more interesting.
4. Perfectly Square Superheroes
Feeling square? Act it out. Set a specific time such as 15 minutes but nothing over 30. You need at least five people to play, but keep it under 20.
Take a long rope, tied together and give each person a blindfold. Everyone stands in a circle and holds part of the rope. Blindfolds go on and place the rope on the ground. Change it up by making the blindfolds represent superhero masks, such as Spiderman and SpongeBob Square Pants — totally a superhero. Then everyone must walk a short distance out from the circle.
Ask everyone to walk forward toward the rope, blindfolds still on, and form a square around the rope. Make it more interesting by setting a time limit. Encourage more hilarity and team building by stating everyone must remain silent.
This activity focuses on developing strong leadership and communication skills. Trust also develops since team members must remain silent while guiding each other forward in the correct direction. Everyone is a superhero, even when they feel square.
If you work hard, you should play hard, too — physical exercise is important. Climbing is an activity all skill levels can participate in — and you get both exercise and team building in. Take a leap of faith and get to know a team member, helping hold them steady as they climb the wall. Can they handle a 30-footer? Different courses require various amounts of reach and flexibility to achieve new heights.
This team building activity encourages exercise, concentration, trust and dedication. Celebrate with takeout afterward!
6. Community Service Day
Team building exercises extend beyond the odd board game night and creation of the “human knot” or square exercise. More organizations realize the importance of giving back to their community and creating meaningful work culture for their staff. 79 percent of employers want to work for a socially-responsible organization so, why not declare a Monday as Community Service Day and give back?
Teams in different departments can choose their own charity, but they must do more than donate money. They have to go to the source of the cause and build houses, or your company offers its services on a pro bono basis.
Lend a hand and find out how good it feels to give back together. This activity helps foster a positive work culture and team ethic.
Throw out Boring Team Building Exercises
Hate mandatory team building exercises? Forget boring and awkward. Get wacky.
Start them up off with a traditional “perfectly square” exercise and then send out the zombies. Go caving. Give back. Make each other proud.