Over the past two years, we've all experienced huge shifts in the way we work, from how we interact with colleagues, to our expectations around flexible hours and remote working. A result of some of these changes is what's been dubbed 'The Great Resignation' - a mass exodus of employees from jobs and companies that don't make them feel valued. This makes it more important than ever that businesses listen to what their employees want and need from their workplace, and invest in making their work culture genuinely engaging and supportive.
Here at Hire Space, we know the value of bringing people together, and we've helped thousands of HR professionals deliver successful events to engage their teams, from team-building social activities to awards ceremonies recognising outstanding work. Here, we've shared our insights on creating experiences to inspire, motivate, and lift up your team, and keep them singing your company's praises.
What are the benefits of team experiences?
Attracting and retaining talent
In an employees market, companies are only as good as their reviews, and so it's crucial that employers make the working week more than a 9-5 grind. Your employees might not 'live to work', but if you can make the culture and benefits around their job enough of a draw, you'll likely have a more satisfied team who are prepared to work hard and recommend open roles to others. In addition, you'll be able to sell your open roles with much more success if candidates find the environment and culture appealing.
Encouraging team collaboration
A well-oiled team doesn't work in silos, but with remote and hybrid working being a feature of the new normal, it's important that your team has chances to get to know each other outside of email chains. Regular socials, whether online or in-person, allow colleagues to interact outside of work, and help to cement good relationships which have a huge impact on team productivity. It seems basic, but if employees get on with their teams, they'll be more prepared to help others out and keep collaboration at the forefront of the company environment.
Investing in learning and development
Team experiences don't have to be completely social-oriented: in fact, some of the best ways to engage your team involve independent learning opportunities. If your team sees that you care about their development on an independent level, you'll be set up to have a loyal workforce who want to grow and put their skills to use to prove the value of the development opportunities you've given them. Unique team experiences like hackathons and skill-shares can be great ways to give people a chance to shine and discover new passions.
What kinds of events should companies implement?
Every company is different, and the kind and number of events you plan will depend on your particular team make-up, brand, and budget. However, it's important to remember that your employees are your most valuable resource, and that investing in their wellbeing means investing in the business in the long run!
As much as we'd all like a fantastic team culture to come into play organically, giving relationships the chance to develop and thrive requires a certain degree of input. You don't have to implement all of the below suggestions in your social plan, but we strongly suggest incorporating at least a few into your calendar to give your team the best chance to bond. If you'd like some support on organising or planning any social events, our event experts are on hand to help out, so don't hesitate to get in touch!
We know that the mention of team-building activities can sometimes be met with a less-than-enthusiastic response, but that's a relic of days when team building involved untangling a web of string... Novel experiences, on the other hand, work wonders for communication and interpersonal skills, as well as increasing camaraderie within the team.
Finding activities that are genuinely unique and engaging enough to get your team fired up can be a challenge, but we've seen enough events to know what works to foster a sense of team spirit. Here are a few examples of some really fantastic experiences you can tap into for your own events, whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid.
Bringing your team together in-person can help to forge strong connections, but most people find that it's beneficial to have an activity to take the pressure off conversation. Here are a couple of our favourite options to get your team connecting.
- Scavenger hunts: Scavenger hunts are a great way to get everyone up and moving around, and they can be tailored to fit any location or group size. Wildgoose offer an outdoors, team-oriented urban exploration scavenger hunt which gets teams working together in the city of your choice.
- Team games: playing interactive games is a great way to encourage teamwork and build rapport in your team. For an event in summer, we recommend bringing out the giant garden games to keep everyone entertained!
- Sports or physical challenges: physical activities make a real change to sitting in the office, and help you to support your team's physical health. They also make for fun memories (the Hire Space team recently took part in a 5k park-run challenge and had a ball - we'll be bragging about it for months!).
- Well-being sessions: everyone appreciates the chance to relax and unwind, and by incorporating it into your team events, you'll be caring for both the social and mental wellbeing of your team. Some of our favourite activities for this include hosting an aromatherapy session, sound and gong bath, or team pilates session - or all three at once for a triple whammy of wellbeing!
Virtual and hybrid experiences
Virtual events are often viewed as back-up options, but they're crucial for making everyone feel included if your team can't all get together in one place. They can also be just as fun, and provide an engaging alternative to awkward Zoom calls, especially if you bring in an exciting activity everyone can take part in.
- Escape rooms: Escape rooms are a fun, interactive way to get everyone working together to solve a common goal, and they work equally well online as they do in person. A couple of our favourites are the Arctic Survival Escape Room and the Art Heist Escape Room, by expert virtual experience providers, Wildgoose.
- Trivia nights: Quizzes are a great way to get your team talking and thinking collaboratively, and they can be tailored to fit any theme or group size. Choose a classic pub quiz, or go with something a little more tailored to the knowledge of your team, like a decades quiz - an oldie but a goldie!
- Cooking socials: a virtual cook-along ensures that everyone can participate in your socials, and speaking from experience, they can be fantastic fun! Virtual cookery classes let your team learn a new skill, while socialising in a relaxed environment.
Away days and retreats
Away days and retreats are great for getting the team out of the office and into a new environment where they can bond, learn new things, and have some fun. But making your away day or retreat original and engaging can be a challenge in itself. Here are some of our top tips for making the experience unique and memorable for all the right reasons!
- Keep work sessions focused but flexible: make sure your content sessions are concise and honed to hold your team's attention, or you'll lose their engagement early on. Keep timings flexible to allow your team to explore areas they're interested in - you might find that hidden passions appear if you allow more flexibility in the day!
- Mix up work and play: if your away day or retreat features an element of work, make sure you intersperse engaging elements like games, yoga sessions, or challenges to keep everyone awake!
- Have some surprises up your sleeve: your team might not expect to find themselves in Vegas on an away day, but bring out a professional casino set-up and they'll be whisked off their feet! Fun experiences are what makes an event memorable, so it's key to have some activities in store that bring an element of excitement to the day.
- Choose a fun setting: a great away day venue goes a long way towards making your event a positive experience for your team, so make sure you choose a spot that isn't too corporate. Sometimes choosing something out of the ordinary can play in your favour - check out our top picks of fun away day venues to kick off the event right.
As well as being a great opportunity to bond with your team and create lasting memories, parties can be a fun way to thank your team for their hard work and achievements, but to give them maximum impact you'll need to nail the fundamentals. Here are some of our top tips for what not to forget...
- Get the entertainment right: festivities tend to fall flat without a splash of entertainment to keep things going, so opt for some music, dancers, or comedy entertainment. You could add immersive entertainment like a wandering magician, or circus performers.
- Include fun experiences: your team are more likely to cut loose if there are activities that help to break the ice, so make sure to include at least one experience at your event that takes pressure off interactions. For instance, you could arrange a mixology masterclass, let your team pour a pint with the power of their minds, or recruit some complimentary drinks to give them the compliments you've been saving up.
- Add a helping of memorable moments: the one thing that's guaranteed to get your team engaged and make your event go down in history is some out-of-the-ordinary treats. Check out the alcoholic candyfloss, liquid nitrogen cocktails, and ice lolly lab from creative catering geniuses, Sixth Sense, for some top-notch ideas.
- Don't forget to capture the smiles: bring in a photo booth to put the memories down on paper, and make sure your guests have a souvenir to remember the event by. Bonus points for instant printing!
Opportunities to give back
Volunteering is a great way for teams to bond and give back to the community, and it can help teams to feel genuinely good about working for your company. At Hire Space, we're starting to organise social events for our team that have a positive impact on society - in April we went litter-picking along Regent's Canal, and we've got more activities lined up to help our team do good, and feel good in turn. You can find out more about what our team have to say about the social culture on our work with us FAQs page!
You can find plenty of organisations to volunteer with, or choose a positive activity that suits your brand and you can organise yourself. Why not give your team the option to put forward causes that are important to them, and choose the charity or cause you'll support from the suggestions. Our top tip: make sure you plan and communicate these opportunities as a chance for the team to come together and make memories, rather than just fulfilling CSR quotas!
Recognition and rewards
Rewards and recognition help to show appreciation for a job well done and motivate team members to continue working hard, so they're a valuable part of your overall strategy. There are many different ways to reward and recognise your team, and they don't all have to be on a large scale (though awards ceremonies can be great fun!).
Team lunches and outings can also be a fantastic (and slightly more low-key) way to show your team that you appreciate their effort, as can fun social events like cocktail-making masterclasses. Alternatively, sending out a box of tasty bakes is sure to go down a treat with remote teams, and you could always tuck into them over a fun virtual social for a doubly memorable experience.
So there you have it - some ideas for team-building activities, away days, and retreats that can help to genuinely engage your team and bring them closer together. Whether you opt for in-person, virtual, or hybrid activities, we're confident that these tips will help you to create a stronger, more productive team!
How to plan experiences without draining your time and resources
With all of these events to add into the calendar, resources are likely to be stretched. That's where our team can help yours. We offer a full-service solution, Hire Space 360, to minimise the effort required to keep your team events running smoothly, from support on venue-finding and supplier sourcing, to event management packages for larger events, such as awards ceremonies.
You can draft us in to support where you need, so a lack of time doesn't need to get in the way of creating great experiences to keep your team engaged! You can read more about how Hire Space 360 can work for you, or get in touch at the button below to book a consultation.