By Claire Hannum

An employee who feels included in their workplace is 50% less likely to leave their job — and additional research indicates that more than half of employees have reported staying at a company because they felt like they were participating in a team. Engaging in quality, memorable and fun teambuilding activities is essential for helping your employees feel represented and supported in their work.

Try some of the activities below to keep your team strong, supportive and communicative. Some are tried-and- true events and some are new to the scene, but all have the ingredients it takes to foster an essential sense of connection between employees that lasts far beyond the event itself.

    In a supportive group, dance classes are an excellent way to encourage vulnerability, self-expression and playfulness. Dancing is a natural mood booster that’s even better when shared. A great venue for this is DivaDance, a nationwide company with a popular Chicago location. DiveDance specializes in offering stress-free, in- clusive lessons for adults — and those are the exact traits you’ll want to look for in a teambuilding dance class.
    Anyone who’s watched a cooking show – or simply tried to coordinate their family in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning — knows that cooking as a group involves extreme teamwork. Aligning dishes or recipe components to be ready at the same time and coordinating multiple prep steps, is a (delicious) feat of true organization and cooperation. And did we mention that there is additional bonding for the group when they get to enjoy the finished product!
    Ziplines and ropes courses get your heart pumping, but if you have solid coworkers by your side, they also show you just how much your teammates have your back. One way to make the activity extra memorable is to hold it off-site near a tourist attraction, so attendees can enjoy the best of both worlds and a vacation-like morale boost. For exam- ple, Rushmore Tramway Adventures, which offers an aerial course, ziplining and outdoor rides, is located just two miles from Mount Rushmore. “Our adventure park offers an ideal setting for groups to come together, face chal- lenges and grow as a team,” says Lexi Clemmons, assistant general manager of the park. “What participants can ex- pect to take away from the experience is not just improved teamwork but also a sense of accomplishment, shared laughter and unforgettable moments that will strengthen their connecctions long after they leave our park.”
    Combine teambuilding and your company’s corporate social responsibility goals by working together to build a wheelchair. Coworkers can tap into each of their unique skills to put the wheelchair together, then can debrief with a reflection on the importance of teamwork. Most wheelchair building programs will then donate the wheelchair to someone in need. For example, TeamBonding’s popular Wheels in Motion program in Indianapolis benefits disabled veterans and others who are unable to afford the wheelchairs they need.
    Invite your team to feed local families in need by organizing donations ahead of their food bank shift. Then, when they arrive for their shift, they can help with stocking and handing out much-needed food goods to members of their community.
    Gather your group for a tour of a local exhibit or invite them to give back to their local creative community. Some organizations offer both: Art- Works, a nonprofit in Cincinnati, offers corporate group tours of the 300-plus murals its artists have painted through- out the city. In addition, ArtWorks offers the opportunity to volunteer on project clean up by preparing city walls to be- come canvases for future murals.
    Habitat for Humanity is a longtime go-to for corporate volunteering, and there’s a reason for that: it’s a prime opportunity to grow while helping others. By building a home for a family in need, your team is making a major difference in the life of someone in their commu- nity. At the same time, they’re breaking barriers together, sharing vulnerable moments and busting past the limits of the org chart to remind themselves that they’re a group of equals working toward a shared goal.
    Challenge your team to an epic scavenger hunt in your city. Many can be customized to your company’s own goals, values, and even inside jokes. For example, cityHUNT, a national company that offers hunts in Akron, Ann Arbor, Chicago and more, creates hunts that are tailored to both your city and your team. The Go Game, another nationwide program, can even provide an on-site host to make the hunt extra lively.
    Vineyards on your local wine trail likely offer a series of wine-related games to help teams bond between sips. Another delightful option is a wine hike, which provides a low-key opportunity to discuss company values or have conversations around teamwork.
    Bike-building challenges are an excellent opportunity for developing camaraderie and sharpening critical thinking while serving the greater good. Build-A-Bike, a now legendary organization, creates bicycles that can be hand-built by teams and donated to kids who otherwise can’t afford them. To ensure the experience is high-energy and includes important teambuilding lessons, Build-A-Bike can include team activities or even fun-fueled classroom training as part of the experience.
    Remote teams can test their knowledge, skills and sense of humor with a virtual game show over video chat. The companies behind the games frequently provide personable hosts who can infuse comedy and fun into the experience.
  12. HIKING
    Hiking is both stress-reducing and endurance-driven, which is a great combination for team bonding. Along the way, offer conversation starters that invite the team to ponder their goals, values and connection to their coworkers.
    Corporate mindfulness programs have exploded in the last decade, and for good reason! Increasing evidence has shown that mindfulness can help employees focus better at work. It’s also an avenue to encourage stress management during busy events seasons and healthy communication among coworkers.
    With Kidbilly Music, you can create your own company song and record your own music video. This nationwide program pairs your team with an experienced songwriter who can help bring ideas to life, then creates an eye-popping video starring your employees. No musical skills required!
    For a team that’s prone to high- stress situations, a group yoga class offers a release valve. Unwind with the help of a pro yoga instructor, and afterwards, spend time in a group discussion around what feelings and goals came up for participants during the class.

Make Teambuilding Effective

Choosing the activity itself is just step one. Here’s how to make sure teambuilding events make a lasting impact.

  • Create a safe space where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves openly. Do this by fostering a sense of inclusion and trust, and ensuring that everyone understands the full rules of the activity.
  • Build opportunities for team members to get to know each other better as individuals before diving into the activity itself. Ice breakers, the “two truths and a lie” game or assigning team members to introduce one of their coworkers to the group all make excellent openers.
  • Make a point to emphasize that team members may have different communication styles, and go out of your way to help bridge that gap so they can connect, feel more supported by one another and work together more effectively.
  • Hold a discussion when you’re back in the office about how the activity felt and make sure to continue expressing those same values long after the event has ended.

Claire Hannum is a writer specializing in travel, events, career and wellness. She has written for publications like SELF, CNN, Newsweek, The Group Travel Leader, Small Market Meetings, The Huffington Post and more.