By: Angela Caban, MHRM

A recent report reveals business owners are losing trillions of dollars due to lost productivity among team members.

Eighty-five percent of employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work, according to the Gallup study. Some team members may say they are just punching a time clock and have no need for work engagement, but research shows that employees who are engaged are more productive.

Team building may be the answer to this current issue facing companies. These types of activities are a great way to develop workplace camaraderie so that employees have a better understanding of each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests. It is also a surefire method to improve projects that involve teamwork, resulting in coworkers operating better together. The outcome of team building can be extremely vital to a company’s success and to employee retention.

Some benefits of team-building activities are

  1. Increased workplace engagement,
  2. Improved creativity, and
  3. Enhanced communication skills.

However, many leaders seem to have the wrong idea about what constitutes a fun activity. The common result ends up being that employees feel like they have to get through yet another task, rather than enjoying their time and making proper use of a valuable opportunity. Avoiding this pitfall is as simple as picking ideas that are fun and engaging to the team, while also offering good opportunities to show off some skills.

Here are four innovative team-building activities:

Mystery bag cooking

Who doesn’t love food? This one may be inspired by watching just a little too much of Food Network’s hit show Chopped, but nonetheless, it’s a great team-building idea. Assign coworkers to teams and give them a limited amount of time to create a dish using just the ingredients in the mystery bag. Coworkers will learn not only to work together under pressure, but also to collaborate and share ideas. In the end, assign teams to taste and select a winner. As an added bonus, the preparations can be used for a company-wide potluck day.

Game night

An often ignored idea, but one with huge potential, is going out for a trivia or game night. This option is a fun way to break the ice and let everyone demonstrate what they know at the same time. Coworkers can pair off in teams and get to know each other better outside the office by including some personal games. Team building should always begin with learning more about the people you work with.

Escape room

This growing craze is gaining more and more popularity on a daily basis because it is a creative way to get a group to join together for a common goal: escaping. Escape rooms are interactive and thought-provoking with an added bonus of improving cognitive abilities and communication skills. Plus, escape rooms provide great examples of working together to overcome a problem, like surviving a zombie invasion or figuring out how to get off of a desert island. Overall, it brings everyone together for some unusual fun.


If your employees enjoy physical tasks more than mental exercises, paintball is the go-to activity for everyone. Paintball also develops team relationships as it is a game that requires a lot of coordination between people in an intense, rapidly changing environment. Having an experienced player on each team to guide everyone can promote leadership, too.

Team building doesn’t have to be a bore or a task that everyone just wants to get through as quickly as possible. As long as you’re willing to think outside the box, you’ll find that there are tons of opportunities for activities that are both fun and engaging. And in the end, your workplace will function more smoothly, which equals an improved bottom line.