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3 Fun Team-Building Exercises to Energize Your Employees

Nobody likes to be the new guy — whether it’s at work, at school, or during extracurricular activities. You have the anxiousness of not knowing what to expect, the nervousness of wondering if you will get along with everyone, and also, you want to make sure you do a good job at whatever it is you’re doing. Being new carries tons of pressure!

To make newcomers feel welcome, many employers plan group activities to not only introduce people but also to get new employees acclimated to a group. However, that’s not the only time these types of activities might be useful!

Have you ever worked for a company where the spirit is low and morale is a little down? Perhaps the company has had a rough month or two and trust and communication just isn’t quite where it should be. Don’t worry, there are team activities catered to just those types of issues!

To address workplace communication and morale, try one of these fun team-building projects to lift spirits and make introductions.

Working Together as One: Physical Team-Building Activity

Have you heard of “Bonding Belt?” It’s a great team-building game to encourage discussion and interactions between co-workers and peers, and since a game only lasts for 15 to 30 minutes, you could also play it to start meetings off right!

The goal of Bonding Belt is to get from point A to point B, as a team and while “stuck” together, as quickly as possible. For the best results, get at least 6 people involved in this game (you can play with up to 60).

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A large, clear space to allow teams to move between two points
  • A roll of cling film per team (or some rope, a band, or anything to keep everyone together)
  • A timer

Team building should spark unity, not mutiny!

Team building should spark unity, not mutiny!

Each team is banded together with film or tape to ensure they are united in movements. To start, give the teams 5 minutes to discuss their strategies (at the end of that 5 minutes, they should be banded and ready to go). Next, make sure the start and finish lines are clearly labeled and both teams are aware of the starting and ending point.

Then, let your teams run, and keep track of their end times. Once all teams are aware of their finishing times, give them an opportunity to re-strategize their next attempt in order to beat their previous score. Repeat this process as many times as you’d like until the teams achieve their best times!

Getting to Know Other Employees: Mental Team-Building Activity

As your business expands and grows, it’s inevitable that you will have new team members and possibly have to form new teams as people move to different positions and job responsibilities change. This game is perfect for promoting communication, listening skills, and motivation.

This game is called “Circle of Questions,” and its name pretty much says it all.

You can use as little as 10 people to play this game, and the duration can last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A whistle
  • A stopwatch
  • Pens or pencils and paper

How well do you know your co-workers or employees?

How well do you know your co-workers or employees?

Begin “Circle of Questions” by splitting the group into two equal teams (if there is an odd number, then either find another participant or let someone sit out until the next game). Ask one team to stand in a circle facing outwards, then ask the second team to create a slightly larger circle around the first one facing inwards.

First things first: have both teams greet each other. Then, explain that the people in the inner circle will ask a question (of a manager’s choice) of the person opposite them in the outer circle. That employee will have 30 seconds to give an answer before the whistle blows. Hint: make these open-ended questions and remember that there is no right or wrong answer.

After the allotted 30 seconds is up, the person in the outer circle will ask the person in the inner circle the same question with the same rules applying. After both people have asked each other a question, then the inner circle will move clockwise one place and the outer circle will move counter clockwise one space to find a new partner.

Expect some confusion at first, but after several tries you will get the hang of it. Repeat this exercise by asking more questions, each time alternating which circle gets to ask the question first. Stop the exercise when everyone has asked and answered a question, or whenever you get to an appropriate stopping point.

Example questions: Where would you like to be in 5 years? What does success look like to you? What’s your greatest strength? (Try to ask questions that gradually work toward a theme you would like to address).

Improving Communication Channels: Mental Team-Building Activity

Anyone can have a team, but you can’t have a great team without communication. Effective communication is the foundation to keep any relationship (personal or professional) succeeding and thriving. To truly succeed, you have to know how to voice your thoughts and opinions but also understand how to listen and receive information to achieve the greater good for a company.

The third game is called “Being There,” and it not only encourages communication and memory but also promotes attention to detail.

You can use as many people as you want for this game, as long as there is an equal number on each team, and there’s no limit on the number of people who can play.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A large open space
  • Chairs
  • Pens and pencils or paper
  • A list of 5-20 questions (about the work/meeting environment OR about the participants themselves)

Communication and memory are key in the workplace.

Communication and memory are key in the workplace.

Start “Being There” by reading off the questions to both teams, having them write down their answers on a sheet of paper. To make it competitive, you can have teams exchange answer sheets and score each other while the answers are being read. The winning team will receive a prize.

This game will help your team address distractions as well as deal with attention span. How aware are you of the world and working environment you are living in? How does “being there” and “being present” affect a relationship or career? This game gives any team a playful introduction into a very important topic.

Example questions: What color are the floor tiles in the kitchen? How many credit cards are in your wallet or purse? How many people work in your department?

No matter what kind of team (or topic) you are trying to address, there is an activity out there catered just for it. Your company is not the first one have an issue that needs addressing, and it certainly won’t be the last! Team building exercises are not only good tools for building a great workforce, but also for creating a fluid work environment. When your workers are comfortable with themselves (and others around them) to do the best work they can do, then your company will advance to new heights!

Which team-building exercises do you find the most helpful? Would you play any of these games at your workplace?



cjones

Candice is on the web team at QLP. She's extremely family-oriented and enjoys spending all of her free time with her daughter and family. She LOVES to shop and just experience life again through her daughter's eyes. There's nothing better than that in the world for her!

Comments

  1. Amy Swanson

    These are great suggestions, Candice! Another popular one is “3 Truths and a Lie” where you write down three things about yourself that are true (the more outrageous, the better) and one thing you make up. You read them aloud and people have to guess which one is the lie. It’s a great ice-breaker and you learn more about your coworkers as a result, without even realizing it.

    • Candice J.

      That is a fun one! I know I’ve played it several times before at new jobs and it was always a great way to encourage conversation without even knowing it. The only team building game I hate is the trust game where you fall back and put your trust that the person behind you is going to catch you. That is a horrible game, i don’t think i’ll ever like it.

  2. Jen

    This was such a neat blog Candice! I don’t think I’ve ever had to play any of these games when starting a new job, but I have played them in school and as a summer camp counselor. I enjoyed learning about my fellow classmates and volunteers. These games really do bring people closer together and break the ice.

    I really like Amy’s 3 truths and a lie game suggestion too, it’s so much fun!

    Nice job Candice, we should try a couple of these games here at QLP this summer. :)

    • Candice J.

      I’m sure that would be a great experience! It might even be more fun than TriJenga….maybe…. TriJenga is pretty intense.

  3. Jaimie Smith

    Candice this was really cool.
    I like the third game about the work environment around you. That would be fun to play.
    Its very similar to a game I have seen at many Bridal showers. A person asks everyone questions about the bride halfway through the shower, while the bride sits outside somewhere where noone can see her. Some questions are about her in general, and some are things like what is she wearing and stuff) Its a real interesting game.
    Amy’s game 3 truths and a lie is pretty fun. I have played that before at different events and occasions.
    AWESOME post Candice.

    • Candice J.

      I think a lot of these games could be used as ice breakers and conversation starters at a lot of different events. Bridal showers, baby showers, etc. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    I feel like the Circle of Questions game would stress me out. I have less than 30 seconds to say where I want to be in five years? “Buh…uh…alive?!”

    But games like these are definitely a great way to break the ice and build up team morale! Great suggestions, Candice!

    • Candice J.

      I think Alive is a great response to that question! I feel like if you don’t think that’s great answer, there might be bigger problems that need addressing. I think the Circle Of Questions game would stress me out too. Turning clockwise, counter clockwise, speak, don’t speak, I feel like I’m playing some weird version of adult simon says. Haha, thanks for commenting!

  5. Rachel

    Interesting stuff, Candice! I’d say another great team-building exercise is a bags tournament. ;) Worked for us, anyway!

    Thanks for the team-building ideas!

    • Candice J.

      You’re right! Our 2012 unfinished tournament was pretty awesome too! Even though my team only played once it was A LOT of fun considering I’ve never played before. I think there are a lot of things/games that wouldn’t normally work for most companies but works for us. I can’t count how many times a day i say, “Only at QLP…” QLP is AWESOME! Thanks for commenting!

  6. Morgan

    I LOVE these ideas! I don’t work for anyone nor do I have employees (yet) but I can tell you that I haven’t learned how NOT to introduce new people to a company from working for a variety of different employers. I absolutely love these tips. It always sucks to be the new gal. But actually putting together a team building exercise that actually brings people together is a great opportunity.

    I think having some group outings outside of the office can be a great way to bond.

    Thanks for the tips!!

    • Morgan

      Er, I HAVE learned how NOT to introduce new people to a company from working for a variety of different employers. :)

    • Candice J.

      First off Morgan, thanks for stopping by and commenting! Secondly, I knew what you meant, I think my eyes automatically learn how to correct typos as I am reading. But I agree with your statement completely. I’ve had various different employers do horrible jobs when trying to introduce and integrate new employees into a company. Although, I do realize it must be tough for these companies to to create these activities and there is going to be trial and error along the way. Group outings outside of work are a great way to bond and get to know more about your co-workers. Especially if its a company event and family is allowed to attend. People tend to feel the most comfortable and open up when they are around people they love!

  7. Eric

    Arcade basketball. All the way.

    Still holding out for some Air Hockey up in here… :)

    • Candice J.

      Of course how could i forget arcade basketball?!? I only have to listen to people play EVERYDAY I’m here since we got it working. Although Air Hockey would be pretty awesome…not sure if we have any place to put it. I’m sure we will try tho.!

  8. team building speaker

    Candice –

    Thanks so much for the fun ideas you shared…
    I especially like the “bonding” physical activity, as it sounds much like a “welded ankles” game that I have used a number of times!

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  10. Peni (Ben) Teo

    Candice,
    Thank you for the great tips. I was looking for some fun games and activities to get to know my new staff and faculty at a new high school I am being assigned as their new Principal. The school had a couple of challenging years and I am being assigned to resolve some of those challenges and turn the school around. I love all of the team building games mentioned here and I will sure use them for my leadership workshop ‘ice-breaker’ and introduction.

  11. Craig

    great Ideas. I do team building events and so I am always looking for activities to include. These are some great ones and I appreciate your post. Very useful and above all practical. Team building is so very important and should be fun!
    Thanks

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  14. Vernie

    This is a great blog. It could really help me prepare for our company’s team building. thanks

  15. Marie Williamson

    First, great post Candice!
    This is the first time I’ve seen the Bonding Belt activity, do you see a lot of reluctance from folks due to physical reasons – obesity, personal hygiene, personal space issues, etc? And if you do, how do you overcome them, or can you pick them out right away and move along to a different activity? We do team building activities as part of our events, and I’m trying to visualize the activity and how to overcome any challenges that may crop up like this.
    Thanks
    Marie

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Hi, Marie!

      Candice is actually no longer with QLP, but I will do my best to answer your question. There isn’t too much hesitation to participate because a lot of people relish the chance to stretch their legs after being at a desk for so long. However, if anyone really doesn’t want to participate, we don’t force them but make sure that they take the lead in one of the less-physical team building games. There’s no point in doing a team building game if people are going to complain about it.

      Thanks for leaving a comment!

      Mandy

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