Team Building for Lasting Results

By creating shared experiences, you can boost employee morale and your company’s productivity and profitability.

For a business, few things are more important than having your team function together as an efficient, cohesive unit. To that end, many companies are realizing the importance of incorporating team-building activities and events into their corporate culture — happy employees work better and studies show they are more productive.

But team building can be a very broad term. For some, it might mean going out bowling or going out to the pub for some pints after work. For others, the focus is on teamwork, and they will choose team-building activities that touch on communications and leadership.

“Even though they are getting to know each other, they’re doing it more in a work context,” says Philip Keen, director of corporate development at Canadian Outback Adventures and Events. “They’re learning more about how people work, their preferences and their approach to things.”

Look For Fit
Canadian Outback helps meeting and event planners customize and run corporate team-building activities and employee engagement programs. They use a consultation process to learn about the event’s objectives and desired outcomes, and to find out a bit more about the group dynamics. Do they want it outdoors? Do they want something physical? Do they want something cerebral? 

Bryan McWilliams, an event solutions expert with Canadian Outback says this helps each company choose an event that will be most gainfully aligned with the participants.

“The person running the event might love The Amazing Race and has always wanted to do an amazing race so they think their team is going to love it,” McWilliams says. “But in reality, it could be a group of individuals who aren’t physically fit and who have no interest in running around downtown Victoria for three hours doing a physical event. A cerebral event with a more problem-solving focus may be a better fit. Considering who the participants are is important.”

Create Communal Memories
Often, these events mix different departments who need to work together all the time but who might not understand or respect each other, “It’s amazing what a half-day outside of the office doing one of these team-building events can do to break those silos down,” McWilliams says.

One key to team building is allowing co-workers to create shared memories. Many companies find that incorporating a “community giveback” component is a rewarding way to create those memorable experiences.

“Sponsor-A-Breakfast invites the business community to engage with those struggling with homelessness and poverty by sponsoring and serving a lovely breakfast for up to 300 people,” says Tracy Campbell of Our Place Society.

Colliers International recently participated in this program, and Christina Dhesi, their director of community investment, credits the time as strengthening the overall office culture and fostering teamwork.

“Colliers’ most recent visit to Our Place Society allowed individuals from our multi-faceted operation to unite on common ground with the shared objective of giving back,” she says. “What we didn’t anticipate was what the experience would teach each of us… Company-supported volunteerism allows employees to step out of their everyday routine to connect with local organizations and support causes they are passionate about.”  

Get Outside the Box
McWilliams believes that any time you can get your team out of the office and let them stretch their legs and get some fresh air, they will relax and destress a bit.

“This works well to allow them to interact and build camaraderie with their colleagues and it breaks down silos a little bit,” he says.

As well as planning other companies’ events, Canadian Outback hold their own corporate retreats and McWilliams says it’s amazing to see how different colleagues can be outside of the office.

“They might be serious or focused during work hours and you get them out in a playful environment in nature and you learn a ton of new things about them, he says. “You can find some common ground and really gain some new respect for each other. And that’s the biggest thing, especially for our clients.”

To truly build a company culture, you need traditions. One-time efforts to improve the culture will feel disingenuous and the benefits will be lost in the long term. Whatever type of team-building activity is the best fit for you, make them regular events and do them consistently. The payoff is evident when employees enjoy where they work and genuinely like their colleagues. 

GOALS OF TEAM BUILDING
Entertainment
Some companies just want to entertain and make the event all about having fun with co-workers.

General Learning
The activities are still based around recreation but bring in an element of learning, such as leadership and communication skills.

Skills Focused
A facilitator can create activities, which can still be fun, that target a specific skill, such as selling.

TOP TEAM BUILDING TRENDS
Philanthropy
A giving and gratitude theme speaks to the company culture, and allows teams to bond over
a charitable activity.

Technology
With mobile apps, like Canadian Outback’s Wild Goose Chase, teams use smartphones and connect through completing a mission.

Customization
Unique events, personalized to specific needs or learning outcomes, add to the take-away for team members and provide tangible outcomes.