Question: Do you have any regular celebrations or teambuilding activities in your department?

Answers from frontline reps —

Try an Imagination Station. Our group created teambuilding activities last year. The mission was to come up with something that would engage our branch (of about 400 employees) without the use of any food or pulling people off the phones (we work in a contact center). Thus, the Imagination Station was born.

This was a “station” set up either in a break room or hallway, away from the work area, but not too far from people coming and going during their breaks or meals. We had to find something that could be done in a short amount of time (10-15 minute break). Examples of stations include:

Origami Station — Played a short “how-to” video and provided paper and scissors at the table. Rock Painting Station — Decorated small river rocks with special colored markers and stickers. Game Station — Played quick board games like Operation as well as a physical challenge called Trashketball. This is played using trash cans for baskets and balled-up pieces of paper for the basketballs. Team members kept coming back to compete as we kept a board of the top scorers. Greeters from the leadership team were also on hand during the activities.

— Tracy Cushman, Navy Federal Credit Union

Discover each other’s strengths. Leading and participating in effective team building activities
can be a great way to bring strength and unity to any group. One of my favorite teambuilding activities was an escape room. As a group, we traveled to another area, ate a meal together, and then collaborated with each other to escape from a room by solving puzzles and riddles. When you have to solve problems or generate solutions with your team, you realize other’s strengths and, in turn, they can recognize particular strengths in you.

If you’re remaining in the office, ask someone to bring in a gaming system, like a Wii, and try bowling or other team oriented games. Or try a scavenger hunt. When employees have to find “a flower” or “a green car” and take a selfie with it, not only do you get some amazing pictures to remember the event but team members get to know each other and bond. You will see immediate results after any of these team building activities as individuals get out of their normal roles and stretch themselves to new possibilities and work friendships.

— Megann Wither, Doc’s Doggie Day Care

Remember the little things. Working in the public sector, there is no budget for celebrations and teambuilding, however, there are ways to make a difference and build good will. Developing your department culture is about doing the little things that, “make a difference” and cost nearly nothing but your time and spirit. For example:

  • Say good morning and good night to everyone on the team.
  • Make sure you speak to everyone on the team at least once a day.
  • Recognize birthdays and anniversaries with cards signed by the entire team. If you have the budget, add fresh flowers.
  • Decorate for the holidays. Everyone can help decorate and contribute to the supplies with items from home.
  • Try a morning huddle (15 – 20 minutes) to share information about timely topics.

— Kathy Cassidy, City of Berkley 311 Customer Service Call Center

Share successes and dreams. I have been fortunate to work with teams over the years that have tried different ways to support individual members and celebrate successes. One month, a manager suggested a “eulogy” project. We each drew the name of one of our team members and it was then up to us to get to know that person a little better. After we felt comfortable with the information, we wrote a small eulogy that included our coworkers successes and dreams. It seemed silly at first, but it really brought us together as a team. I still have the one that was written for me and this took place over six years ago.

— Rachel Dillon, Assurant

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