8 Clever Team-Building Activities That People Actually Love

5 min read
Jun 26, 2015

Optimized-iStock_000020546586_SmallA culture of camaraderie has many great benefits for an organization’s bottom line. Our Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture Report discovered that peers and camaraderie are the number one reason why employees go the extra mile — not money. So building an organizational culture where people believe in the same values and get along with each other isn’t such a fluffy idea after all.

We asked a few organizations across the globe to find out what they’re doing to make their people gel. Here are some fun and creative team-building exercises that you can try out in your company today.

Fiesta Fridays

Located in downtown Columbus, Ohio, The Media Captain’s owner Jason Parks gives his team a change of scenery. “When the weather gets warm, once a month, our team will walk to a nearby taco restaurant on a Friday after work. We all get to bond on the walk and then relax over tacos and drinks.”

“It helps enhance the relationship with colleagues because everyone is able to open up on a more personal level. You learn things about your fellow coworkers that you might not have discovered inside of the office.”

There’s something about taking the team out from the office setting that creates a different vibe. People start feeling more comfortable and are able to socialize more openly with their colleagues.

Collaborative Cooking

Cooking as a team requires clear communication and willingness to cooperate with one another. One misstep can ruin the whole dish for everyone. Frances Wong, PR & Community Relations Manager at Visit Oakland, recalls her favorite team-building exercise — cooking together.

“We met at new local hotspot, Venga Paella, a restaurant specializing in the Spanish rice dish. Under the direction of the chef, each member took turns cutting up the seafood and vegetable ingredients and stood watch over the simmering dish. We had a lot of fun, laughs, and great photos. Besides a delicious lunch, Visit Oakland reinforced our cooperation skills, taught us a new recipe, and reminded us that, like the different ingredients of paella, each of us brought a unique flavor to the whole team.”

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Horsing Around

Being a part of the company leadership requires great communication skills. However, this doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it’s a skill that can be learned. Robert Godlewski, University Relations & Strategic Communications at Kennesaw State University, shares his experience at his former job.

“While working in management at [my previous job], my department spent an entire afternoon learning how to lead horses around a corral as a team-building exercise. The secret was to take the reins and gently walk the horse where you wanted him to go. It seemed simple enough in principle. However, those who stood in front and pulled got nowhere. Yelling at the horse didn’t work. Neither did slapping his hindquarters. Plus, it was dangerous! Certain management styles clearly weren’t effective, and it provided for lots of good-natured stories later. Nonverbal communication was the key. Did I mention I worked in a communications department?”

Sometimes nonverbal cues have a greater effect than verbal communication. Being able to work together as a team to figure out the best communication style creates a cohesive voice in the management team.

Comedic Relief

We all work hard, but we also need to play hard. How can we truly enjoy our job if we can’t have a few laughs with our coworkers? Amanda Cohen, Marketing Manager at Homescout Realty, says, “At Homescout Realty, my favorite team-building exercise was when we all did improv together. An instructor from Second City met my coworkers and I at my home, and for two and a half hours we partook in improv. This was a great opportunity for us to really let loose and have a great time with one another. We never stopped laughing, and the activities that we did really brought us together. On top of that, this was a great exercise that made us think on our feet and step out of our comfort zone, which allowed us to gain confidence and lean on one another for support.”

Part of building a culture of camaraderie is building a support system. This proves to be very valuable when a colleague needs a helping hand on a project or if someone is on vacation and they need a coworker to take over their workload. Peers should be able to rely on one another.

Meeting Updates

Being transparent provides clarity into what’s currently going on in the organization. Whether it’s releasing a new product or the development of a new project, it’s a great idea to let your teammates know what you’re working on. That way, they’ll be given a heads up if you need their help on that specific task in the future. Or perhaps they have some material that might allow you to complete the task more quickly.

Colleen Cassel from Upstream Solutions explains, “My favorite team-building exercise is gathering the team each morning at a set time (9:15am) for just five minutes. During the five minutes, three people talk about either what they did to help someone or if they saw another individual helping someone else. Roughly just one to two sentences. For example: on the train I saw a young boy help a woman carry her bags, or I baked cookies for my daughter’s school program.

“This was a great exercise as you get to understand a little about each person other than what their job is, but what they value. It shows that each of us has compassion and are able to see the good in the world versus the ugly stuff we usually hear about.”

And if daily meetings aren’t feasible for your organization, try out a weekly meeting. Danielle Estrada from HomeHero tell us, “At HomeHero we do a weekly team meeting where each team member shares one exciting thing they worked on last week and one new thing in their personal life. We have found the employees enjoy it and find ways to relate to one another.”

Be Creative

The Creative Group asked over 400 creative executives to share the quirkiest and most unique team-building exercise they’ve ever participated in. And this is what the study revealed:

  • A dance-off

  • A one-week retreat in the desert

  • Getting pedicures

  • Going to a Renaissance fair

  • Participating in a 200-mile relay across the state with 20 people

Being a part of a culture that embraces camaraderie isn’t all about fun and games. It comes down to the bottom line. People who are more engaged, who have a great support system at work, are more productive and willing to put in their all in order to not let their peers down.




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