Company outings and corporate retreats. If these words set your teeth on edge or send shudders down your spine, we understand. You already spend 40 hours a week with your colleagues, why would you want to spend more time with them than you have to?
There are a myriad of benefits that come with a properly executed team outing. They’re a great way to let employees relax and unwind while fostering teamwork and building trust and are a great way keep your employees engaged. Engaged employees are more productive and produce higher quality work, both of which directly impact your bottom line. A report from RedBaloon/AltusQ found that companies with high employee engagement levels were up to 10 times more likely to see an increased and sales and profit than those with lower engagement.
When we say “team outings,” we’re not talking about events that are filled with intense competitions which pit employees against each other (these types of events can actually do more harm than good.) What we’re talking about are outings that challenge your employees physically and mentally, inspire their creativity, build trust, and make them closer to their peers and their team as a whole.
In this article we’ll be talking about some of the key benefits that organizations can gain from hosting these types of events as well as listing some of our favorite team outing ideas to inspire you when planning the next outing for your company.
Download our full E-Book of 60 employee engagement ideas for areas ranging from professional development, to company culture, all the way to employee health & wellness and more.
Benefits of Team Outings
Improve performance and increase productivity
By including team building activities throughout your company outing, you can effectively teach employees how to work together more efficiently. Employees learn ways to improve their team processes and identify policies or procedures that may have inhibited productivity in the past.
They can help people overcome their fears
Having events that challenge your employees’ comfort zones can make them feel more comfortable with themselves despite their fears or weaknesses. This can translate into employees being more open to ideas they may have seen as a risk in the past, spurring innovation and creativity.
They build morale
Doing something enjoyable with your peers, especially in an environment other than the office, can help build team morale and increase employee satisfaction.
They can relieve stress
Stress in the workplace is an epidemic. It costs organizations around $200 billion each year and can lead to a slew of negative consequences for both mental and physical health including headaches, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Team outings can be a great way to relieve some of that stress by giving employees an outlet in which they can get away from all the obligations a typical day at work can bring and allow them to unwind in an enjoyable atmosphere.
They can strengthen relationships
Team outings, when done correctly, can significantly strengthen the bonds between employees as they get to know each other on a more personal level. This can build trust, fortify bonds, and establish trust among individual employees or teams of employees.
They encourage creativity
Well-planned team outings are filled with activities that take employees out of their normal environment and give them an out-of-the-ordinary task to perform. This gives employees the opportunity to think “outside the box” and use their imagination to accomplish the tasks set before them. These types of activities can help solidify the notion that creativity is welcomed and encouraged, which can directly translate back into the workplace.
Team Outing Ideas
It’s crucial to understand that your workforce is comprised of a very diverse group of people, people with different interests, hobbies, aspirations and dreams. Some employees will be more comfortable than others participating in certain activities, so it’s important that the individuals planning the team outing are sensitive to that. Try to avoid putting employees in situations where they feel awkward or embarrassed.
Your employees will have different needs and limitations, which is why it’s important to offer a variety of event options that cater to your employee demographic as a whole. Below is a list of some of our favorite team outing ideas that your organization can utilize to foster employee engagement, boost collaboration, and increase productivity, all of which have a direct impact on your bottom line.
1. Host a Mini Olympics
Hosting a mini olympics can be an easy way to offer a variety of team-building events that cater to a wide variety of employees interests. The events can include serious sports activities or nonsense events for people who may not be as athletically capable as others. Mini olympics encourage individual achievement as well as team effort in the same way the real olympics do.
Pick employees from different departments to be on teams and have each team represent a different nation (to mimic the real olympics.) Your events should be ones that are short and enjoyable. This maximizes the fun and minimizes events that are focused on stamina and endurance. Make sure your events are high energy and promote a sense of interaction and bonding.
Giving back to the community is such a rewarding experience. It soothes the soul, helps others in need, and is a great for your team members to interact and bond with each other. Find volunteer opportunities that your employees are passionate about and ones that cater to shared interests.
Bank of America’s Two Million Connections for the Better is a shining example of how a team outings can align with core brand values and be organized across an enterprise organization. Their employee volunteers contributed more than 2 million hours in 2014 and “volunteered in a variety of ways, from mentoring young people, to feeding the hungry, and supporting the needs of America’s veterans.”
There’s never a shortage of volunteering opportunities for for your employees to engage in. Head on over to VolunteerMarch.org or Catchafire.org to see what opportunities are available in your local community.
3. Room Escape Games
This is by far one of our favorite team outing ideas. Room escape games are a unique, intuitive and interactive physical adventure game in which people are locked in a room with other individuals and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape the room within a certain time limit.
Organizations in a wide swath of industries can benefit from room escape games as they encourage team unity, engagement, creativity, communication, and leadership. If you’re looking for a provider of room escape games, head over to the Escape Room Directory to see what’s available near you.
4. Karaoke Night
Taking your employees out for a night of Karaoke can an easy way for your employees to unwind and let loose. It can help them realize that leaving their comfort zone isn’t always a bad thing.
Take this outing idea a step further and incorporate this into your employee recognition initiatives. Give out award certificates for categories like “Best Elvis Impersonator” or “Best Duet Performance.” There are many different ways companies can tailor this to fit their business. At the end of the day Karaoke is about having fun. Remember, karaoke is like pizza; even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty awesome.
Paintball is a fast-paced, team oriented activity that can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s the fast paced, high tension environment that makes it such a good team building activity. Paintball shares many commonalities with an office environment.
There is going to be pressure and competition, and in order to be successful, teams must work together, communicate and be willing to take risks. Paintball is a great idea for a team outing because it appeals to your employee’s adventurous side, forces good teamwork, and promotes employee engagement on and off the field.
6. Cooking classes
Cooking classes are a great way to get teams of employees working together to achieve a common goal and can spur creativity in even the most timid of people. Choose a cooking class that has multiple dishes so employees have plenty of time to get to know others who they might not be that familiar with.
Some cooking classes may offer drink pairing with the different courses you’ll be preparing. Remember, if you choose a cooking class that offers alcohol it’s important to be cognizant of how much alcohol people are consuming and to ensure your employees have a safe ride home.
To find cooking classes in your area that cater to teams of employees, check out TeamBonding.com. It makes locating classes easy and offers a wide variety of classes on culinary subjects such as truffle making, pizza, pastries and more.
7. Employee Barbeque
This outing idea works best during the warmer months and can be a great way for employees and their families to unwind and get to know each other. Most local parks have barbeque pits for public use, so all you have to worry about is the food and drinks.
Parks offer a variety of activities not only for the employees’ children, but people of all ages. A company barbeque is an excellent way to allow employees to relax and allow them to connect on a personal level.
8. Field trips
Taking a field trip is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Periodically getting out of the office and exposing your employees to new people, places and ideas can be a great way to keep your employees from getting “stale.” By exposing employees to other perspectives and immersing them in how other people and organizations deal with issues in real life, you can re engage employees and spark new ideas within your team.
9. Rock Climbing
Most office-based jobs require people with no prior relationship to work together and rely on one another to achieve company goals. Rock climbing offers a fun way to boost employee morale and build trust while eroding the leader-follower mindset. It also requires communication and listening skills, conflict resolution, and stress management and helps employees learn to work towards a common goal.
Pick a goal which you’d like to achieve (total height climbed, number of climbs completed, etc.) and ask employees to set individual goals as well. Working towards a common goal strengthens team cohesion and can translate back to the workplace.
10. Hit the town together
You don’t necessarily need your team outing to be a fully immersive experience with meticulously planned team building activities. Simply bringing the team together in an atmosphere outside of the office can do the trick. Ask your employees what they would enjoy doing and plan a team outing that caters to the majority. From a football to philharmonics, there are plenty of events that your employees will enjoy. The important thing is that they’re enjoying them as a team.
Team outings can help transform a company culture in to one which fosters creativity, collaboration and, most importantly, productivity. Ultimately, team outings are about having fun. Remember, the team that plays together really does stay together!
What are some of your favorite team outing ideas? What’s the best team outing that you’ve been on and why? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
10 Team Outing Ideas to Help Boost Employee Engagement
Written by Andrew Wasyluk on February 15, 2016