Answers from frontline reps —
I have been involved in a number of different team-building exercises, but the two that stand out the most are the Chili Cook-Off and Organizational Jenga.
A cook-off is always a good way to get people involved. In my case, we had a sign-up sheet for everyone who wanted to compete. When they brought in their dish, we had sample cups for everyone to taste and judge throughout the day. The aroma of the chili combined with the variety of recipes created quite a frenzy, as everyone eagerly proclaimed their favorite dish. Once the votes were tallied, the winner received a monetary prize plus a write up on their winning recipe in our quarterly newsletter.
Another good team-building exercise is Organizational Jenga. It’s played very similarly to the regular Jenga [a game played with building blocks]. The twist is we use oversized blocks, and label the different blocks with the names of all the different departments throughout the Contact Center, from the entry level departments all the way up to our Executive Leadership Team. As each block was moved out of position, excitement grew based on how the structure started to sway and become weaker with every move. Just as removing one Jenga block from the stack could make the whole wood structure fall down, if one branch or department is weak, then the entire organization could be adversely affected.
This exercise really gave us perspective on the importance of our own role within the branch and how we as individuals can have a direct impact on the success of Navy Federal.
— Jerrard Gates, Navy Federal Credit Union
There are so many different ways to make team building fun. We all know that work is work and is usually a very serious affair; however, we also need to be able to let our hair down, so to speak.
At my place of employment, we do many things throughout the year to make work fun and to get to enjoy our team members company. We have food days, where everyone brings in a dish to pass. We also cater in meals; we have team outings for movies, bowling, or anything fun that we all decide on.
But you can always start with the easy things, like celebrating the holidays together. You could have a Thanksgiving feast for everyone with all the trimmings. You could do a Halloween costume party, decorate pumpkins and have everyone judge the pumpkins and the costumes. You could also have an Easter egg hunt for the employees and their families. You could have an open house, where the employees’ families are invited to come see where their loved ones spend all day.
Have pizza days or jean days for the employees making their goals or for having an accident free or absence free quarter. Employees could decorate flags, and then have a contest to judge them.
Employees could also do many things to help out their local communities, which allows them to help those in need and still build team spirit. They could help entertain the elderly in the nursing home by playing cards, putting on a show, playing games, doing things that everyone would enjoy. There are can food drives to help keep the local food bank stocked. Please don’t forget that most communities have pet food banks as well. You can also do a drive to help the local shelters with much needed supplies and fulfill many needs. Help clean a city park, or clean up a local playground.
There are many team-building opportunities both at work and outside. Just make sure everyone is involved and has fun.
— Jo Sprowl, SKF USA Inc.
In our contact center, we work hard but we play hard too. Each year, employees can look forward to an annual Big Day Out experience, hosted at a local event center, that brings employees of Navy Federal and their families together. Additionally, as an organization, we have a large gala and several award ceremonies to recognize our top performing employees and departments. Across the company, as well, we have 5k Run/Walks and President’s Challenges to encourage our team members to be healthy and reach their individual fitness goals.
On a team level, we encourage branch-wide competitions to increase service and excellence efforts. Also, like many offices, we have regular potlucks and catered events to recognize team achievements or special events.
One of Navy Federal’s guiding principles is “Service,” so we also contribute to a lot of events that help the community at large. To name a few: Adopt a Highway, Corporate Cup, and Habitat for Humanity. At our large campuses we offer many types of events — from discounted tickets to shows, sporting events, golf tournaments, overnight bus trips, and Children’s Holiday Parties. There is truly something for everyone.
— Megann Wither, Navy Federal Credit Union
One of my favorite group activities is “Telephone.” The game teaches the importance of direct communication. To play this game you have the group sit or stand side by side. The coordinator will whisper a “secret” to the first person and then that person will whisper it to the next person and so on. Once the message reaches the last person, that person will declare the message out loud for the group. A small portion of the time the message will be correct, but the majority of them will be completely different from the original. The game is to show that even small breakdowns in communication and teamwork can make a significant difference.
Our office has an Activities Committee, and it has done various things to show appreciation to the entire staff. For example, it has had a local ice cream restaurant come in to provide various flavors of ice cream to everyone. We have also had “Spirit Week,” where each day of the week focuses on a different theme or subject. One of the best events included a photo booth where participants were able to dress up in silly hats, glasses, and wigs. The employees really seemed to enjoy it, and they were able to receive the photo as a memento of the day.
— Rachel Dillon, Assurant Specialty Property