Sometimes it's obvious your team is a bit flat and could do with a morale boost. While I'm not suggesting that team-building is a long-term solution for low staff morale, it is something that can get them away from their computer and help them feel refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to throw themselves into their work.
It's well known that team-building activities are great for injecting some enthusiasm into workers, but it can't just be me who thinks that by the time you've realized there's an issue, thought of something to do, organized it and then actually gone and done it you've actually lost weeks of productivity due to unmotivated staff?
That's why, for me, the idea of quick team-building activities is an attractive one. As their name suggests, they're something you can do pretty much straight away, as soon as you sense a problem, and they often don't need to cost a fortune.
Here are a few I've tried so far.
1. Go for lunch
There are few situations that can't be improved with a full stomach, especially if the boss is paying. If morale seems a little low I normally suggest we all take an extra-long lunch and head to our favorite burger place. It's guaranteed to put a smile on everyone's face, even if I don't pick up the tab!
2. Play a game
Getting everyone together to play a quick game is a great way to give your staff a much-needed break and the chances are they'll return to their desk much more inclined to work.
If you can squeeze one in, a pool or air hockey table can provide hours of entertainment, but there are also plenty of games you can try which don't need any equipment. I found a few great ideas on this blog. I'm not sure how my team will feel about the human knot though…
3. Have a laugh
There's nothing like laughter for encouraging your team to bond so why not give them something to chuckle over? We have a weekly caption competition with a prize for the person who comes up with the funniest tagline to accompany whatever photo I stick to the noticeboard. I'm always on the lookout for things that they'll find funny too - whether it's articles, jokes or YouTube videos. Sure, it disrupts the work for a while, but I'm pretty sure the gains I get longer-term - happier staff, a relaxed atmosphere, more open communication - outweigh that.
4. Get a sugar rush
Friday donuts are sacred in our office - whatever we're doing we all stop to grab a sugary treat, recharge our batteries and have a chat. It's a great way to celebrate the end of the week together and get everyone talking. If you've got keen bakers in the office, why not set up a rota and get everyone to bring in their homemade creations once a week?
5. Set a challenge
There's a reason why so many team-building activities are competitive. Working together to beat another group is a surefire way of bonding people. And you don't always need laser tag or paintball to achieve this. I've found that a simple quiz or problem solving challenge does the job well, especially if you let the winning team leave 30 minutes earlier!
6. Break the ice
One thing I do find challenging is making sure that new team members are getting involved with their co-workers. My staff often work remotely or are out at meetings, so it can be weeks before new employees get to meet everyone properly.
Here are some great icebreaker suggestions which I'm going to try next time we hire a new team member.