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Team Building Activities That Will Revive Employee Productivity

The term “Team Building Activities” instantly gets groans and eye rolls from people. Why? Because they’re usually activities that management thinks employees will find fun and instead they make employees yearn for their desks.

Jeff showing off his awesome ‘TriJenga’ skillz

Quality Logo Products we tried our own version of a team building activity a few months ago. We were all split into groups of four or five people and we played TriJenga. Yup, you read that right. ‘TriJenga’ combined the excitement of Trivial Pursuit and the nail-biting enjoyment of Jenga into one game. We played it tournament-style, complete with brackets and daily email reminders informing us which teams were competing. Who was the ultimate TriJenga champion though? The world will never know.

One of the flaws of this game (besides not having consistent rules) was that it took anywhere from 30 minutes to sometimes 45 minutes for each game. Our sales team is blessed with a lot clients who need help with promotional products, so we only got through a few rounds before nothing was ever said about it again.

While we were on the right path to wanting to strengthen our team here at QLP, we just bit off more than we could chew. Don’t let this discourage you from wanting to bring your team closer together; the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

Benefits of Team Building:

  • Increases Productivity: How many times have you sat at your desk and zoned out into space because you were that unmotivated to do much of anything else? Team building activities are a great excuse to get people up and out of their chairs and interact with coworkers they may not usually get to see or talk to. When the activity is done and wrapped up, your employees will have a renewed sense of motivation and will power through the rest of their day.
  • 3, 2, 1, and down goes the motivation level

    Improves Motivation & Confidence: When we’re working on a task that just seems to have no easy fix to, guess what happens to our motivation level? It plummets. However, when we can think about past situation where things seemed doomed and see that through trial and error a solution was found, our confidence levels increase. Self-assurance levels in your employees that problems will work themselves out will reduce the lost time typically spent pulling their hair out.

  • Foster Problem Solving: Going off of the previous point, when a group of people are asked to complete a task, chances there are will be a lot of suggestions on how to get it done. Every idea won’t work, but from one idea another one may come to mind and BOOM! There’s the way to solve the problem. This can easily be applied to their jobs as well and the next time they get stuck on something, they’ll know that by asking for other suggestions they’ll eventually find the answer.
  • Encourages Creativity: Getting up and out of normal work environments is enough to spark some new ideas that under normal working conditions couldn’t have presented themselves. Depending on the environment that the team building occurs in, the sky’s the limit on creativity that can be fostered. Desk-bound employees will appreciate the excuse to get up and get their eyes off the computer screen, instead of having to create excuses to move around.

Now before you think I’m leaving you high and dry without any ideas, don’t you fret. A simple Google search will give you as many results as you have time to read through, but from my research here are some great ideas that will get the fewest eye rolls from employees.

Communication & Icebreaker Exercises: These are a few suggestions for getting groups up and mingling with as little awkwardness as possible.

  • Two Truths and a Lie: Give each person a note card and have them write down two things about themselves that are true (vacationed in Italy last year, afraid of spiders, still believes in monsters under the bed, etc.) and one thing that is a complete lie. Have them walk around and chat with people and find out what other people’s truths and lies are. This is a great way to ignite conversations!
  • Yikes! Hope you don’t get this guy on your team!

    Create a Logo: Split your large group into smaller groups of three to five people each and have them create a logo for their group using only the things with them or in their pockets. If you want, you can bring in some smaller items for people to use; pipe cleaners, feathers, beads, etc. Decide before you start though whether you’ll allow the groups to talk to other groups and trade items.

  • Guess Who?: A popular game that is guaranteed to get people talking to each other. Each person gets a famous person’s name printed on a sticky note and put on their back. They don’t know who their “secret identity” is, but everyone else does. By talking to people and getting clues they’ll soon be able to guess who they’ve been given.

Problem Solving Exercises: These are great to play after an icebreaker exercise, or on their own with groups who are already acquainted with each other.

  • Zoom: (no, not the awesome PBS show from the 1970’s and revised in the 1990’s): this one requires Istvan Banyai’s wordless, picture book entitled, “Zoom”. The book is filled with 30 sequential pictures that work together to form a narrative. For this activity, cut out the pictures and laminate to keep them from getting bent or ripped. Hand one picture to each participant and explain that they can’t show their picture to anyone else, all they can do is talk about it and explain what’s being featured in their picture. Have them try to get the group to place the pictures in sequential order without looking at one another’s picture.
  • Any excuse to play with LEGOs during the day is a-okay with me

    There’s sadly no name for this activity and I couldn’t think of a witty enough one: You give each group a gallon sized zip top bag full of LEGOs and instruct each group to build a LEGO structure (from a picture which you have provided) without opening up the bag. Watch as the problem solving skills really shines with this activity!

For something truly low-key, there’s nothing wrong with taking your employees out for dinner and drinks after a particularly rough day. They’ll appreciate knowing that their boss isn’t some stale coffee breath sorta person out to make their lives a living Hell. It all just comes down to interacting with coworkers and getting people excited about their job once again. How you do that though is completely up to you.

Do you have a favorite team building activity that you remember participating in? What advice do you have to managers planning an activity like this? Can you think of an awesome name for the LEGO activity? Sound off below!

Image Credits to takashiyamauchi and Clipart.com.


Amy Swanson

Amy is one of Quality Logo Products’ content developers and social media coordinators. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd and thoroughly enjoys reading business and financial news and having impromptu discussions about it. Oh yeah, she’s “one of those” people! A true Midwestern girl by nature, she loves riding her bike, photography, and the Chicago Cubs. You can connect with Amy on

Comments

  1. Jeff Porretto

    Look at that handsome jenga master devil (we’ll ignore that I lost that game)! It WAS a fun team building exercise. Sometimes doing things in no way related to work at the office, even if just for 5-10 minutes can REALLY boost morale. I remember that impromptu game in that meeting, and before we knew it everyone was focused on us battling it out! It was a nice distraction that really seemed to energize people.

    Thanks Amy!

    • Amy Swanson

      Thanks for the comment, Jeff :)

      TriJenga had the potential to be great, I mean trivia and Jenga, how could it not be?! Maybe one day we’ll pick it back up again, with consistent rules.

      It’s amazing how quick it takes to re-energize people and get them excited about work once again. Remember that impromptu bags tournament we had as well? Fun times!

  2. Bret Bonnet

    Look – Jeff’s the size of the Jenga game set!

    • Amy Swanson

      That picture always astounds me that the entire Jenga tower is resting on 2 blocks on top of 1 block. Eeeek! Makes my blood pressure increase just imagining pulling out the wrong block!!

  3. Mandy Kilinskis

    I think I’d miss the team building part of the Lego game. Knowing me, I’d just want to play with the Legos and build it myself. It still sounds really fun, though.

    The only thing I’d like to add is to make sure that you have clearly defined rules before you start. And if it’s a tournament like TriJenga, or bags, then make sure you have someone who is in charge of keeping score and enforcing said rules!

    • Amy Swanson

      I couldn’t agree more with you regarding consistent rules. They’re important to keep the game moving and to avoid any confusion. Having a practice run first to see if any potential problems or issues arise could really prevent ‘mid-game rule creation’ ;)

      Thanks for the comment, Mandy!

  4. Rachel

    Lots of good ideas here, Amy. When QLP did our bags tournament last year, I thought that turned out really great — it was a nice combination of team-building, getting to know coworkers I don’t usually interact with, a short break away from the computer, and spending time outside! Any excuse to move around and breathe some fresh air for a few minutes seems like an effective motivator to me. :)

    • Eric

      I’ll never forget the bags tournament. My very first day of working here at QLP was concluded by playing bags with my boss. Morale booster? Heck yes. Nice way to get to know faces and personalities around the office? That, too. It became something to look forward to, and was at the perfect time of year to step outside for a couple, get some fresh air, and have a few laughs.

      You know, it’s about that time of year again…just sayin’. :)

      • Amanda

        The bags tournament was awesome!!!! =) So good for the company to get outside and spend time together.

  5. Jill Tooley

    Ah yes, I remember when TriJenga was a thing around here…

    I think time budgeting is the key to any productive team building activity; if the goal is to increase productivity, then it’s probably not a good idea to keep employees from working for more than a half an hour. Activities require a good balance, otherwise they turn counterproductive. Something like Two Truths and a Lie would be perfect for our work environment. We should try it sometime, at least in our office!

    • Amy Swanson

      Your idea of having a good balance is so key, Jill. Excellent point! With some departments they can step away from their desks longer than others, but it’s important to cater to everyone’s schedules.

      Thanks for the comment :)

    • Amanda

      TriJenga was super fun–but yes, some of the games ran too long, and made us get a little backed up on work….we’ll keep thinking about new games to try. It is so nice to be able to mingle with each other.

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