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How to choose the right team-building activities to boost employee wellbeing


It is no understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our private and professional lives. Not only has it changed the way we live and work but also how we feel about work. Supporting good mental health and wellbeing in the workplace has never been more important, as companies large and small are increasingly beginning to realise.

Dakota Murphey looks at why it’s worth investing in employee wellbeing.

What are the benefits of investing in employee wellbeing?

Prioritising employee wellness has to do with more than well-meant concern for making staff happier – there’s a clear financial imperative to promoting wellbeing at work. Even before the pandemic, back in 2016, the World Bank and World Health Organisation (WHO) reported an estimated global $1 trillion in lost productivity per year as a result of anxiety and depression.

Closer to home, this report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that, between 2020 and 2021, work-related stress, anxiety and depression accounted for half of all work-related ill health cases.

There are a multitude of real rewards to be derived from having a happy and healthy workforce, including:

  • Increased morale, motivation and productivity
  • Reduced presenteeism – being physically present at work but without being productive
  • Strong employee value proposition
  • Greater levels of employee loyalty and retention
  • Better recruitment chances to attract top talent

How to promote workplace wellness with team-building activities?

Of course, there is much employers are already doing to promote good mental health among their team. Free fruit and Friday beers, walking meetings and cycle-to-work schemes, volunteering opportunities and wellbeing days off – there are countless initiatives that can be rolled out to boost wellbeing in the workplace. Many companies offer gym memberships and more, often at clubs like this, where there’s a wide choice of facilities for both exercise and relaxation.

Beyond the individual employee, team activities are an excellent way to improve wellness at work. They provide your staff with an opportunity to socialise and get to know their co-workers which can help foster a more positive work environment and reduce stress. From regular team lunches at the local pub to corporate milestone celebrations at a plush London venue, there are many ways in which to enjoy coming together as a team. You can even get free help from professional venue finders such as this one to create just the right environment.

Team-building initiatives can strengthen the bond in the immediate team as well as the emotional connection to the company as a whole. What’s more, now that more people are taking advantage of remote and hybrid working patterns, team activities are essential to tackle the risk of isolation and disengagement. Arguably, this is particularly valuable for onboarding new hires who may not have met their colleagues in person, and who need additional support to form a bond with the people they work with.


What sort of team-building activities boost wellbeing at work? 

It is no great surprise to hear that the team building and coaching industry has been quick to react to changes in demand for their services. Experts now estimate the value of team-building activities and events in the UK to be in excess of £200 million per year.

There’s a vast choice of activities to choose from, ranging from virtual pub quizzing to actual skydiving and everything in between. However, after prolonged periods of Zoom Fatigue experienced by many of those working from home, it is now more important than ever to engage in more face-to-face interaction with the team.

Initiatives that encourage physical activity may be particularly useful here. These types of team-building activities and events can help raise endorphins, serotonin and dopamine – the feelgood hormones that can also improve mental health. Here are some examples:

  • Walkathon or Bikeathon

These are a great form of exercise to help employers achieve both their employee engagement and employee health goals. Put someone in charge of organising your walkathon, bikeathon or any other ‘athon’ you can think of and choose a charity you wish to support. Make sure the event is set in a beautiful location and promoted well so that everyone is looking forward to being part of it, encouraging maximum participation. Add extra little incentives for more fitness motivation, and ensure that you measure everyone’s performance on the day and award plenty of medals!

  • Team Volunteering

If your team is passionate about a certain cause or you support a particular charity, how about dedicating a day of community service to actively help them? You could volunteer to carry out a public clean up at your local beach, pick litter in a park or help tidy up at a nearby nature reserve. Or spend a day at a homeless shelter and help with the food service. Or run an activities day at an elderly care home. Whatever you choose to do, it will not only help your team bond but restore a sense of purpose, making a positive difference and giving back to the community.

  • Treasure Hunt

An oldie but goodie, a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt is sure to bring out the intrepid explorer in everyone. Choose an interesting location and terrain – a local village, a park or a special location such as London. Split your group into smaller teams and give each team a map with instructions. Add a list of wacky things to collect, challenges to overcome and puzzles to solve, and a time limit in which to do it. A treasure hunt may take a bit of planning and organisation but it’s a superb way to promote problem-solving and team working, with a competitive edge to keep things interesting.

  • Creative Competition

Combine creativity and competitiveness and what do you get? From Interior Design Masters to MasterChef, The Great British Bake Off or Sewing Bee, TV entertainment is full of fun and games that you can take inspiration from. You could host your very own Bake Off, cupcake or cookie making contest, have a poetry writing or karaoke singing competition, try your hand at pottery painting or any number of creative endeavours. The important thing is to have a go, have fun and perhaps learn a new skill, all the while bonding over a shared experience.

  • Survival Weekend

For those who want to challenge their team a bit more, take a leaf out of Bear Grylls’ outdoor survival courses and learn how to get from A to B using basic bushcraft and survival techniques. Learn how to build a shelter, light a fire and cook a meal, navigate different terrains and pass a series of challenges. Remain both physically strong and mentally alert to ensure you reach your destination safely and, crucially, before the other team arrives. It’s a fun, fast-moving and immersive weekend to test your mettle and work as a team effectively.

The value of corporate team-building activities really cannot be overstated. Better social connections away from the desk, both with co-workers and leaders, help to build trust and rapport which benefits everyone in the workplace. The long-term benefits of positive shared experiences go a long way to improving company culture and promoting a healthy and supportive environment in which every employee can feel valued for their contribution.

More ideas for organising executive team-building days.