There may be no “I” in “team”, but that does not mean that “I” will want to participate in teamwork.
Why have a company away day? They are popular, with many companies using them either alongside an annual meeting or as an employee perk.
Plan an away day for one reason: to build and strengthen team morale. “Team” being the key word.
Health insurance, discount codes, pensions and the like are ideal for making the individual employee happy. Away days, like wellness programmes, make not only the individual happy but also bond employees as a team.
So why not add a wellness theme to your away day?
It is crucial that you consider the interests of your employees when planning the day. Never assume employees will be automatically keen on the idea. Often an away day will mean getting more work done on other days to fit it in and possibly intruding into their personal time.
By involving your employees in the planning of the day, you can quickly gage their attitude towards it and work in a theme to which they have shown interest. If people don’t like the activities planned for the away day, you can guarantee they will do all they can to avoid them or the day itself. Or they may attend but hate every minute of it, thus defying the purpose of the day.
Be aware of dominant influencers. As momentum for the away-day builds, you may find the more introverted employee becomes more withdrawn, and the more outspoken employee (who doesn’t like the selected theme), may be made more candid, creating negative feelings and worry amongst the group. At this point, employees may start finding reasons not to attend the day.
Here are some of our least favourite away day themes/games, which we advise you to avoid at all costs!
1. The Trust Game
The goal of the game is to eliminate momentary doubt and fear in exchange for feelings of safety and security. Imagine being asked to fall backwards into your colleague’s awaiting arms.
What you get are feelings of an invasion of personal space by your work colleagues. There is also potential for injury (imagine pairing the tallest person with the shortest) and sense of awkwardness. In the age of technology we live in, the reality is that at any point in time, someone focussing on “the catch” may get a text message or email alert that’s just too darn important and distract them from their task.
2. Blind Guiding
The idea, again one of trust, is that your colleague will lead you out of harm’s way, avoiding low hanging tree branches or slats between rickety bridges. But, will they?
This exercise serves two purposes, firstly, as mentioned, there is the trust element, but secondly there is also the focus and high usage of other senses (hearing, smell, touch).
In reality, these tasks often end up involving jokes and silly behaviour that can leave some employees feeling very uncomfortable.
How one acts in this environment could be viewed and taken out of context by others.
3. Truth Telling or Story Telling Exercises
Any truth-telling exercise, round table talk about personal interests or “icebreaking” rituals.
Quite simply: Don’t force people to embarrass themselves. If the more outspoken employee chooses to share some weird and wonderful fact about themselves, that is their choice. In no way should this become a policy to which all participants must adhere.
There is also no benefit gained from learning that many people can convincingly lie. This will not boost company spirit. Any truths shared may have been far more private and personal than the teller may have wished to share. Often the group dynamic may cause people to share information they never intended to. Leave the private life private.
4. Extreme Outdoor Activity –
It would be easy to say how wonderful an outdoor challenge would be for an away-day. There are a plethora of highly active away days out there; raft building, paintballing, go-karting, to name a few.
The success of a physical pursuit away day will depend entirely on getting employee buy-in, well in advance. Many a company will partake in Tough Mudders as a team, with great success. Why? Because the people who took part to chose to.
Forcing a physical challenge will lead to the fitness fanatics trying to take centre stage, leaving the others feeling incompetent, embarrassed and worst of all a group divide will occur.
Never overlook people’s individual fears and phobias. If someone has a fear or phobia of heights or confined spaces, then abseiling or pot-holing may not be the best choice.
Nearly all of the above examples, like many simple team-building exercises seem to give adults free reign to act like a child.
Remember your objective: to build a stronger team, in a fun but professional manner.
Our solution? Incorporate a wellness theme into your away day. Not only does it provide employees with a taster of what wellness means, but it is also for everyone. Read here for Wellness Days: The Good.