Team building events are great ways to foster trust and create synergy amongst your group. But where should you start? Read on to find out!
So, you want to know how to plan a team building event?
Like any program, team building events require thoughtful planning. There are also a few items specific to corporate team building events that you will want to consider.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you plan the most effective event possible:
Step #1: Identify the goal of your event
Maybe it was a tough quarter and you want a corporate team building event to ignite employees’ creativity.
Perhaps a number of new hires have joined the company and you want them to feel at home.
Or you’ve been sensing burnout amongst employees and want to help rejuvenate them with a day of fun.
No matter what it is, define the reason why you are planning this team building event.
It will help guide your decision-making, rapport, and measure your return on investment (more on this later).
Who do you want to be there?
Knowing the goal will help you define the guest list. Let’s talk some more about this:
Curate the guest list to consist only of those you believe will benefit from the event.
For example, is the goal to improve communication skills between the marketing and development teams? Then the IT team doesn’t really need to be there.
Maybe the goal is to promote bonding amongst the cohort of new employees. If so, you can probably leave seasoned colleagues off of the list.
Selecting guests with intentionality will improve focus and productivity during the team building event.
ROI is an acronym that stands for Return on Investment. ROIs are measurable ways to calculate if your efforts are paying off.
As you set clear goals for your team building event, choose a few ROIs to investigate as event emcee.
Here are a few ideas:
- Did you notice a significant increase in sales after the team event?
- Did group participation in meetings increase after the team event?
- Survey participants before and after the event. Have their feelings about their work or colleagues changed?
ROIs can provide fascinating insights, but it takes advance planning to track them accurately. I promise the effort is worth it!
Step #2: Set your timeline
We never like to admit it, but people can tell when you’ve procrastinated.
Ensure that participants have the best experience possible by building your timeline early.
Depending on the breadth of your corporate event, you will need more or less time to plan. However, I recommend setting your timeline at least a few months in advance.
You never know what last-minute complications may arise and require your attention!
Create a general outline for your team building activity
You don’t need to know all the details of your team building event right now. But it will be helpful to have an idea of your desired scope.
Start with these questions:
- Approximately how many participants would you like?
- Do you see this as an all-day event, or just a few hours? Will it be even longer, like a retreat?
- Where would you like to host the event?
- Will you serve food and beverages?
Think strategically and thoughtfully about when you are asking your employees to give their time.
Be sure to think about these items regarding timing:
- If you want participants to prepare anything in advance of the event (forms, surveys, etc.), keep it minimal.
- Do not schedule team building activities right before holiday weekends. Chances are that your staff will have vacations planned and you must be respectful of that.
- A great team building event is not going to take place during employees’ busiest seasons. Understand the ebb and flow of your staff’s schedule and plan accordingly.
You will get the best results when you are treating your employees with respect.
Scheduling according to their needs is a great way to start on the right foot.
Step #3: Select a planning cohort
Don’t sail the ship all by yourself!
There are a lot of moving parts to the planning process for corporate team building events. Including securing a corporate emcee to host! Invite trusted colleagues to help you.
The benefits of forming a cohort include:
- The chance to allocate responsibilities based on each person’s availability and strengths;
- A deeper pool of creative ideas from a variety of individual thinkers;
- Trusted opinions from colleagues who understand your group’s needs;
- And so much more!
Sample planning cohort invitation email
If you’re unsure of how to ask folks to join your planning process, fear not!
Here is a simple template you may edit and personalize for your own needs:
Subject: Extra Hands for Team Building Event!
I’m excited to organize a morning of team building activities for the firm, happening next quarter. This will be a fun event, and I could use some extra hands as far as planning!
Please let me know by Tuesday EOD if you are able to help with a few aspects of planning this event. Tasks will be designed around your availability and interests. Opportunities include:
- Brainstorming activities
- Reserving space/other logistics
- Ordering food and beverages
- Creating a promotional flyer
Step #4: Create a budget
Now that you have your cohort in place, solidify the budget you’re working with. If you’re not sure of your budget, ask your boss what amount is available to you.
If they don’t have the answer, ask how much past bonding events have cost and work from there.
Make sure you have a realistic budget.
Create an easy-to-use budget spreadsheet to track how much money is available per category.
Track how much has been spent and what is remaining in the budget.
Each group’s needs will differ a little, but I recommend adding the following categories to your budget spreadsheet:
- Activity costs (supplies, tickets, speakers, etc.)
- Transportation and parking
- Food and beverages
- Company swag/merch
- Site reservation fee
Always leave room in the budget for miscellaneous expenses, as well. They always pop up!
Consider cost-effective team building activities
As you plan, consider the activities that will be most beneficial and budget-friendly.
For example, hosting a board game tournament would be fun and kind to the wallet! Your cohort can be a huge help in brainstorming budget-friendly activities.
Step #5: Choose the right location
Depending on your group, a successful team building event can happen anywhere. Consider the following when choosing your location:
What is the number of participants who are in person versus online?
If your team includes people who work remotely, I recommend creating a virtual team building event. Or, a hybrid team building event that caters to those working remotely or in person.
- You may offer activities on location and connect everyone over video chat.
- Perhaps you can send activity materials to folks’ homes.
- Or, create entirely virtual events that boost morale by having everyone participate in the same way.
How much space do you need for team building exercises?
Is your team activity for a large group? If so, would it be beneficial for them to split into small groups or remain as one?
As you brainstorm team bonding ideas, consider how the activity will impact location requirements. For example, a group yoga class will require more room than a verbal bonding exercise.
What environment will boost team morale?
Some locations will inspire your staff at work and in their personal lives.
For example, hosting a team building activity at a local soup kitchen can ground your team in their community. This sort of activity can improve company culture by reminding the team of everyone’s humanity.
Or maybe your group needs some good ol’ fun!
Consider making an escape room your next team building activity. The mix of problem solving skills and silly scenarios will have everyone laughing and excited for the next event.
Could your group use some fresh air?
If you are planning corporate team building events, I have a hunch your team needs to get outside. Be honest – they’re stuck behind computers for much of the day, aren’t they?
If your team works primarily inside, head outdoors!
Your team building activity may take place at a local park, hiking trail, or outdoor attraction like a zoo or amusement park. I promise that bringing folks on fun outdoor excursions during working hours only helps build strong teams!
Step #6: Review logistics and set your event day agenda
As your team building activity approaches, meet with your planning cohort. Don’t let the little details slip through the cracks.
Your team members will want to receive logistical information prior to the event date. Gather and distribute this info well in advance.
You’ll have time to field questions and iron out wrinkles in your plans.
Consider these logistical items:
- What arrangements are in place for employees with disabilities, injuries, or other needs?
- If the team building activity is off-site, how is everyone getting there?
- What will team members eat and drink?
- Do employees need to sign any sort of waiver to attend?
- Will employees be staying overnight off-site?
- What should employees bring as far as clothing or specialty items? (For example, should they bring umbrellas, sunscreen, or hiking boots?)
Set your agenda for the event day
In conjunction with your logistics review, here is a vital part of planning a team building activity day: creating your day-of agenda.
Create a one-sheet for each member of your cohort. I recommend including the following information, but personalize as needed:
- Detailed schedule broken down to time slots
- Who is point person for each facet of the day
- Contact information for key team members
- Contingency plans (rain, COVID outbreak, etc.)
Your team will appreciate having a go-to document to guide them through the day.
It will help everyone feel confident so they can focus on the real goal: to build relationships, build rapport, and foster teamwork!
The next time you are responsible for planning corporate team building events, follow these steps:
#1: Identify the goal of your event.
#2: Set your timeline.
#3: Select a planning team.
#4: Create a budget.
#5: Choose the right location.
#6: Review logistics and set your day-of agenda.
Remember to be proud of yourself. It takes great leadership skills to organize a team building activity!
And with that, you are ready to rock and roll!
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.