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Building Team Culture Activities that Boost Employee Engagement

July 19, 2023

By Kelley Briggs
Many workplaces look vastly different than they did just a few years ago. Gone are the days of detached cubicles for companies that are instead embracing more flexible arrangements and remote work. Strictly hierarchical power structures are retreating in favor of a more team-centered, collaborative approach.

A vibrant and engaging organizational culture is critical. How does a company get there, though? Intentionally building team culture activities is an important way to ignite connection and inspire a shared sense of purpose.

Actively cultivating a workplace environment that nurtures trust, fosters a sense of belonging, and promotes continuous growth is a surefire way to unlock the benefits of a fantastic team culture.

Cultivating Connections  

Great teamwork is founded on strong interpersonal connections.

Nurturing colleague-to-colleague relationships is not something that’s only important in the first few weeks on the job. It’s important every day – especially for hybrid or remote workplaces. A strong organizational culture is key to success whether a business is booming or a company is just starting out.

Icebreaker Games To Start the Conversation 

Set aside time for employees to engage with one another outside of their direct work-related tasks. This could involve hosting an in-person event, hosting a video meeting or carving out some time at the end of a company or department meeting for smaller group discussion.

Bringing everyone together is the starting point of cultivating connection, but a little nudge in the right direction with intentional activities can help encourage employees to get to know one another with less awkwardness.

Some of the best icebreaker games for team meetings include:

  • Two Truths and a Lie: A classic game where participants share two true statements and one false statement about themselves. The rest of the group must try to identify the lie.
  • Show and Tell: Throwback to elementary school. Give the team a heads-up to bring an object with a story to the next meeting.
  • Meet My Pet: Who doesn’t love seeing cute animals? Seeing photos or videos is a guaranteed way to fill a meeting with smiles and ‘awwws’. Those who don’t have a pet can describe their dream pet or share a memory of a favorite childhood animal.
  • Rose, Thorn, Bud: Everyone shares three pieces of information. The “rose” is something positive like a highlight, win or something they are looking forward to. The “thorn” is a challenge, roadblock or something they would like to support with. And the “bud” is an idea they’d like to share or something that they find currently inspiring.

By themselves, conversation-starters like this won’t create a thriving workplace community. But they do build a foundation for further conversation and connection, which can be further fueled with more action-oriented team culture activities.

Fostering a Culture of Teamwork 

Teamwork truly can make the dream work. A collaborative, supportive environment encourages innovation, creativity and business growth.

There is no one single answer to fostering a culture of teamwork at an organization. Many different elements must work together to create a positive organizational culture.

In terms of action items, however, the following team culture activities can help employees better understand and trust one another.

  • Trust-Building Exercises: Trust is the bedrock for effective teamwork. Encourage employees to rely on and support each other with engaging activities and games that establish strong ties.
  • Problem-Solving Activities: Assemble a cross-functional team to generate solutions for an enterprise-wide challenge, fostering a sense of collective responsibility and pulling the team tighter together.
  • Communication Workshops: From active listening to conflict resolution to non-verbal communication, there are many different skills that go into effective and constructive dialogue
  • Diversity and Inclusion Activities: Hold workshops, training sessions, and other DEI initiatives that promote respect and appreciation of differences.
  • Team-Bonding Retreats: Provide a dedicated space and time for team members to connect on a deeper level, away from the daily work routine.

By incorporating these team activities and exercises into the overall organizational fabric, companies can foster a culture of collaboration and mutual support that makes each individual employee feel valued and connected.

Celebrating Employees and Investing in Their Success 

Employee recognition is at the heart of a positive, inclusive workplace. Acknowledging and showing appreciation for the efforts of each individual employee goes a long way in changing the overall organizational culture.

Implement a recognition program that truly celebrates employees and their contributions that includes:

  • Recognizing the moments that matter with social and personalized rewards.
  • Celebrating service anniversaries, professional wins and personal milestones.
  • Rewarding behaviors that demonstrate the company’s values and support positive business outcomes.
  • Leveraging technology like an employee engagement platform to create memorable experiences that leave a lasting impact.

Whether you’re hosting employee recognition events like awards ceremonies or showing appreciation with gifts, celebrating individual and team achievements is a powerful motivator.

Another important way to show how much you value your employees is by investing in their success through ongoing professional development and career growth support.

This could include, for example, continuous learning initiatives like lunch-and-learn sessions, additional training, or workshops. Leadership development programs can also be a valuable way to nurture talent for the long term and support the company’s future decision-makers.

Great company cultures aren’t developed in a day. And it isn’t the result of a single activity. Fostering a workplace culture that encourages collaboration, differences, communication, and trust takes truly thoughtful strategy and intentional actions. The impact, however, is well worth the effort and can be truly remarkable.