We all want to have good relationships at work.
After all, that’s where we spend most of our time. Most people spend at least 10% of their total life working, many spend a lot more – for figures see 8 Ways To Improve Your Health At Work.
So how can we create relationships at work that last?
Companies invest a lot of money in the wellbeing of their employees nowadays. Most of this goes into training courses and team building events but the truth is, you don’t need to invest significant amounts of money to create a good working atmosphere – Just have fun!
This article lists several exercises that improve relationships at work and develop camaraderie but are still cheap, easy and, most importantly, fun!
Team building games should be played frequently!
You can use team building activities anytime and most of them do not need a lot of preparation. So make time for them. They don’t have to be restricted to training and icebreaker sessions. Play them frequently to boost both energy and camaraderie in the workplace.
People feel less pressured when taking part in fun games outside of a training room. Try one on an colleagues birthday, first thing on a Monday or Wednesday afternoon – you will be surprise how much more people integrate when they don’t feel that they’re judged or taking part in a staged training plan – they just have fun.
We have listed some activities that you can try with your colleagues below:
Team building activities
1. Similarities and differences
For this activity you need pens and paper.
Distribute a sheet of paper and a pen to each member and ask them to divide the paper into three columns: one for names, one for similarities and one for differences.
Ask them to move around the room, finding out at least one similarity and one difference with each other, filling in the three columns as necessary.
The person with the most completed rows in the allotted time wins!
You can make it even more challenging by specifying that the person with the most names can only win if they name everyone on their list, along with their related similarities and differences (after taking the paper away from them, of course).
If the person with the most names fails, go to the person with the second most number of names until someone gets them all correct.
2. I like
This activity goes well when people in the group don’t know each other. It’s playful without being too intrusive.
The group should sit in a circle facing inwards so they can all see each other. The first member says something they like; for example, ‘’I like to collect dolls.” The next person in the circle has to say something that they like more than the activity mentioned previously; for example, “Instead of collecting dolls, I prefer eating ice cream.”
This is an extremely simple version. You can crank up the fun by making the next person in the circle say something that they like more, which starts with the same letter that the previous one ended with or is in someway related.
Example 1 – “I like to collect dollS” (ends in “S”) so the next person in the circle has to say something they like beginning with “S” – “I like Snakes.”
Example 2 – “I like to collect dolls” – The next person can say they like anything closely connected with dolls – “I like dressing dolls.” Hopefully you see how this can become fun, especially if it’s Big Nige, the security guard, saying he likes to dress dolls. Warning! This version may need a strong willed judge!
You can introduce time pressures, eliminate people if they slip up or make the circle do it with their eyes closed so they have to listen carefully to the person next to them.
Play it for as long as it’s fun. The goal is to help people relax, build confidence and create camaraderie within the team.
3. First impressions
An activity which teaches participants that first impressions can often be misguided.
The team is divided into groups. All groups are given/shown the same 4-5 images of people they do not know (magazines or newspapers are good sources). They are then given a set period of time to discuss their first impressions of each character.
Once the time is up, each group share their thoughts and reflect on how and why they came to such opinions.
When each group has disclosed their opinions to the wider team, reflect on similarities and differences; for example, Why did Group 1 think Character A looked like a nurse but Group 2 didn’t feel like they could trust her? Why did both Groups 2 & 3 think character B was suspicious?
This part of the task gets the group thinking about what characteristics people associate with certain personalities and how they can incorporate this into their lives; for instance, a huge toothful grin often attracts people and reflects well on a persons character.
The second part of the task is where you reveal the actual story behind the character. These can be as obscure as you want. The goal is to make the team understand that sometimes our perception and personal biases impact on how we see people and, a lot of the time, treat them.
Detaching from these perceptions and biases leads to more fruitful relationships between a diverse range of people, resulting in better collaboration.
4. Sweet stories
An activity that does not need a lot of preparation but is a bit more intimate. Take a big bag of colourful sweets and share it with the group. Create a rule for the colors, for example:
- If they have a blue candy, talk about a moment when they felt proud
- Green candy: What they are good at.
- Yellow candy: A person they respect(ed) and why.
- Red candy: A passion.
- Orange candy: A failure and what learned from it.
- Purple candy: A risk they are happy they took.
Even easier, get people to choose randomly from a pack of conversation cards – the questions are already done for you!
5. Human bingo
This is a game which needs a little more planning but is very effective for people to find common interests and “talking points.”
The organiser prepares bingo cards which, instead of numbers, include facts about people in the room; such as, “born on Christmas day” or “is a collector of rare stamps.”
The task for each person is to put a name next to a fact on their bingo cards by simply asking each other.
The first person in the room to fill their bingo card, matching correct names with facts, is the winner.
Now this can be a very short game because of it’s simplicity but, when finished, each group member will have a list of names and related facts. They will also have the experience of communicating with each other, putting a face to a name and putting a face to a fact.
This makes any future communication really easy, without any awkward emotions.
This is an activity where people present their name as an acronym.
The goal is to make others familiar with their name by connecting each letter to a word relating describing their personality/life/interests/etc.
This quashes those awkward silences at the elevator or in the lobby and adds a bit of fun to proceedings.
7. A penny for your thoughts
In this activity, you will need several pennies.
Distribute one to every participant and ask them to switch pennies with others in the group. They should only have one penny in their hands at a time and when they switch, they should share one fact about themselves and one fact about the year the penny in their hand was created.
You can make it even more fun by playing a bit of bluff… Allow people to make something up about the year the penny was created and their partner has to guess if they are telling the truth or not.
The goal is to help people get to know each other and find out interesting things about each other.
Why use team building activities?
There are plenty of simple games that can be played to improve morale within the workplace and they shouldn’t always be seen as a HR initiative.
Make sure your colleagues feel free to suggest team building exercises from time to time. After all, good teamwork and leadership involves motivating all members to do what they do best.
With these fun activities you can make sure your team is motivated without spending a lot of time and money.
Please let us know if you use any of these activities, how they went and if you have any of your own in the comments box below!