Team bonding activities are an important part of life at work. They bring us closer to our colleagues in a fun and relaxing setting. Bonding activities build teams that are more productive, innovative, and inclusive. Salesforce research indicates that employees who feel a sense of belonging are 5.3x more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.
Today, the workforce is changing. Our colleagues come from a wider variety of backgrounds and experiences. It’s more important than ever to be intentional with our inclusive practices, starting with leadership style and including how we conduct meetings and how we celebrate and bond. Being thoughtful in how we spend time with our team is key to creating a workplace where everyone feels welcome.
How to bond with everyone in mind
It’s time to think beyond the traditional happy hour. Happy hours can isolate primary caretakers who can’t stay late or those who prefer not to drink. Finding an alternative way to bond can create a more connected team.
Some tips to keep in mind when planning a great bonding event where everyone can feel included are:
Consider the time and nature of the activity when planning a team event. If possible, bond during work hours. This way, employees won’t feel an expectation to take time away from their responsibilities outside of work.
Don’t be shy about asking for input. Bonding is a group activity — make it a group decision. Give your employees the power to brainstorm and even plan the team’s event.
Get creative! Go beyond cookie-cutter bonding to plan something memorable for your team.
To get you started on the road to inclusive bonding, here are five creative alternatives to the happy hour.
1. Explore your city with a scavenger hunt
Pick a beautiful day, break into groups, and explore your city. You can design your own scavenger hunt or use a creative service, but make sure to take lots of pictures to create shared memories of the day. Fresh air and fun challenges will do wonders for morale. May the best team win!
Salesforce employees take to the streets to explore Singapore.
2. Test your know-how with office trivia
Trivia is a great way to learn more about your colleagues and spark new conversations. Encourage everyone to submit a fun fact and try to match each fact to the employee. Your coworkers might surprise you! For an extra incentive, offer small prizes to winning teams for some friendly competition.
Trivia is especially great for remote employees. With 70% of employees worldwide working remotely at least once a week, it’s important that every team member gets the chance for meaningful interaction no matter their time zone.
Employees celebrate a hard day’s work in the New York office.
3. Cook up a storm
The office cook-off: It’s a showdown that could end in dessert or disaster. Either way, it’s a great chance for employees to get creative and show off their culinary abilities — or lack thereof. For an extra challenge, pick a special ingredient that teams must include in their dish. Don’t forget to taste test!
Munich employees bake cupcakes for a team volunteer activity.
4. Hold a board game tournament
Whether it’s Jenga, Boggle, or playing cards — people love board games. An ongoing tournament keeps the camaraderie (or friendly competition) alive between coworkers. This activity works especially well for busy or big teams because employees can select a time slot that works for their schedule. Plus, the final face-off is sure to be a highly-anticipated event.
A Chicago employee places blocks on a teetering Jenga tower.
5. Volunteer in your community
One of the most rewarding ways to bond with your team is by volunteering together. Whether that’s helping out at a beach cleanup or volunteering at a children’s hospital, service is good for the soul and for the team. By supporting the same cause, your team will develop shared values that translate back to the workplace. At Salesforce, giving back is core to our culture, and each employee receives 56 paid volunteer hours to use by giving back to a community that is meaningful to them.
Employees take time out of their work schedules to clean up a beach in Dublin.
Now, you’ve learned five tangible ways to create inclusive team bonding activities. This is just a start — there are many more creative alternatives to traditional workplace bonding. To learn more about how you can build a culture of inclusion on your team, read about our inclusive leadership practices.