Looking to improve company culture? Try these 23 fun activities

June 23, 2021 - 17 min read

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Why fun activities at work are crucial for morale

10 virtual activities to engage employees

Activities for in-person team-building

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Providing your team with fun activities to do at work contributes to a happier employee experience.

Team-building activities are not only a fun break from work. They also boost employee engagement and bring out creativity, collaboration, and competition. They also help to improve communication skills

One great way to build a strong company culture is to build trust among employees and leaders at all levels.

And these days, offices are often left empty. And remote team members only interact via video calls. It’s all easy for workers to feel isolated and alone at home as company culture degrades.

There are a few ways for leaders to fight the sometimes isolating effects of working from home with and boost engagement. One is to regularly promote remote employee engagement activities.

That’s why we are covering how to engage employees with the best team-building activities in this post. These help with both virtual and in-person morale-boosting.

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Why fun activities at work are crucial for morale

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There are dozens of ways to boost morale at work. From classic board games to team challenges, the possibilities are endless. 

These fun employee engagement strategies provide an opportunity for self-expression, creativity, and camaraderie. In turn, they build a stronger sense of community. Employees — even on a virtual team— will feel like they can be themselves and still be an accepted part of the group.

Look for team-building activities that rely on communication and collaboration. This helps employees learn how to communicate with each other for increased productivity.

Activities like lunch-and-learns that showcase hidden talents and hobbies are also great. They help team members bond over shared or new interests.

Teams that engage in fun activities have a stronger sense of trust and transparency. As a result, the entire company will be able to work together more efficiently.

A LinkedIn survey reports that 47% of workers who are proud of their employer say it’s because their company has a positive culture. Importantly, these employees feel that they can be themselves at work.

Workers who feel comfortable express their opinions and speak up at meetings more. In turn, they feel heard and appreciated. Self-expression also helps employees form meaningful friendships, which makes work more fun.

When work is fun and rewarding, employees want to stay at their jobs. Reducing employee turnover is not just a reflection of great company culture. It can also majorly impact the bottom line.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, the annual turnover rate of employees across industries was 57.3%.

A Gallup poll conservatively estimates that it can cost a company one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary to replace an individual. This includes the time and resources to replace and train new talent.

So keeping happy employees for as long as possible is vital to large and small companies alike.

One way to retain employees for longer is to ensure that they feel valued at work.

An employee retention study shows that employees whose managers consistently acknowledge them for good work are five times more likely to stay at the company.

A winning strategy is to combine fun team-building activities with employee recognition.

The Cheesecake Factory is a company that’s wise to the importance of employee engagement.

CEO David Overton launched Wow Stories. This program publicizes examples of exceptional service provided by staff members.

These stories are shared with all Cheesecake Factory employees around the country. By broadcasting good work, all employees have a goal to strive towards. Plus, it happens to improve the customer experience.

The Wow Stories initiative helps workers at all levels feel recognized and appreciated. It also fosters teamwork and functions as a team-building activity. Employees across departments are united towards a shared goal.

Overton has a 93% approval rating among employees on Glassdoor. This is thanks to this initiative and other inclusive leadership tactics.

Why a virtual environment makes fun team-building activities even more crucial

An Upwork study on the future of the workforce found that by 2028, 73% of all teams will have at least one member working entirely remotelyEmployee engagement tactics for virtual team-building are more important than ever. 

It might not come as a surprise that remote work can create greater feelings of isolation. This, in turn, can cause workers to feel a reduced sense of belonging and enjoy work less.

In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that feelings of isolation at work can decrease productivity by 21%.

And employees who do not work physically with their manager are 10% less likely to feel that someone cares about them at work. According to the same report, they're also 10% less likely to feel recognized for their work, and 5% less likely to feel that their opinions matter.

If these trends aren’t addressed, remote companies may face decreased workplace camaraderie.

In addition to fostering open communication between managers and employees, companies can take other steps to counteract the sometimes negative impacts of remote work and improve team-building.

First, it’s important for leaders to listen to the team and pay close attention to employee morale for remote employee engagement

Feelings of isolation can become endemic in a workplace. Before this happens, team leaders should make a preemptive effort to unite workers near and far.

One way to do this is with fun activities that showcase performance and personality, even if they’re brief daily routines.

Before we dive into the list of in-person team-building ideas, let’s look at 10 fun activities that can engage both virtual and remote workers.

10 virtual activities to engage employees

Here’s how to engage remote employees. All of these fun activities at work can be remote. They are easy ways to bond with coworkers and decrease feelings of isolation. 

1. Trivia night

Employees can submit questions on topics they’re familiar with. Then host a virtual trivia night. This highlights the unique and varied interests in your company’s workforce.

2. Team challenges

Host an ongoing team-building activity that gets the competitive juices flowing. Launch a series of challenges that workers can do at home. Maybe a scavenger hunt for common household items.

Employees can submit photos to complete challenges and earn points for their team.

3. Fantasy football or Bachelor pool

When football season starts, everyone can create a bracket or draft players for a fantasy team. This also works for reality competition shows like Top Chef or Survivor. Everyone can pick who they think will be voted off next or who will be the last contestant remaining. 

As the season progresses, workers will experience the highs and lows of wins and losses together.

4. Virtual escape room

Many escape room companies have pivoted to virtual. These challenges engage employees' strategic minds and clue-finding abilities from their home office and are fun employee engagement strategies.

5. Virtual mixology or cooking class

Nothing brings people together better than a home-cooked meal. And it’s even more fun when you can cook together and learn at the same time.

6. Book or movie club

Initiate a company-wide book or movie club and meet regularly to discuss everyone’s take. Different departments can take turns selecting the next book or film. Start with one of our picks for the best leadership books

7. Wine tasting night

There’s always more to learn about wine. And whether you have a budding sommelier on staff or hire a professional, you can host a virtual wine tasting. It's a fun way to bond and destress after work that's different from your typical virtual happy hour. 

For a non-alcoholic spin, put together a soda-tasting tournament to battle it out for the best fizzy drink. 

8. Internal Ted Talk

Have employees host lunch-and-learns or a post-work info session to share their passions. It can be about anything they want, from their homebrewing hobby to their vacation to Iceland.

For topic inspiration, consult this list of the most popular TED talks

9. Gratitude circle

At a weekly or daily meeting, ask employees to give shout-outs and compliments to coworkers. This could be about a job well done, a random act of kindness, or something that simply makes them smile.

10. Virtual board games

From Monopoly to chess, nearly every board game is available online these days. This is a fun way to learn a new game and let employees flex their strategic muscles away from the office.

Activities for in-person team-building

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When you’re back in the office, use these fun activities to build team collaboration and a sense of community. Engaging employees in person is just as important as it is virtually. And the good news is that it’s often easier to bring people out of their shells when they don’t have the barrier of a computer screen.

Managers should strive for inclusive leadership. This means making sure every team member feels heard and accepted by the team.

What games can be played in the office?

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Here are six games your team can play without having to step outside of the office:\

1. Two truths, one lie

Have everyone in the group share two truths and one lie about themselves. Everyone else guesses the lie and, in the process, learns at least two new facts about their coworkers. Plus, using humor in the workplace can go a long way towards helping coworkers bond. 

2. Assigned lunch or coffee meetings across departments

It can be a challenge, especially for new employees, to make friends at the office. Take things into your own hands and match workers from different departments to enjoy lunch or coffee on the company card.

3. Show and tell

Ask every employee to bring in an object or photograph from home that is meaningful to them. Then go around the group and let everyone share what they brought in and why it's important.

4. Lunch and learns

Turn a lunch break into an opportunity for team bonding by having members of different departments give a brief talk about something they’re passionate about.

5. Karaoke

Break down barriers and get the tunes pumping with an after-work karaoke session. You might be surprised by who can bring down the house with a Bon Jovi chorus.

6. Board games

Have a board game night and let employees bring their favorite games from home. Teaching other people is a great way to bond.

Outdoor and off-site team-building activities

Want to take things out of the office environment? Remember in your planning to consider the abilities and comfort level of all to participate. Physical activities can be fun, but they can exclude others who have some physical limitations so consider your team first and be creative with modifications. Here are seven fun activity ideas for outdoor and off-site:

1. Capture the flag

Host a classic field day with a good old-fashioned game of capture the flag. You can make the course as expansive or as small as you’d like.

2. Adventure course

Bring the team to an outdoor adventure course where people can face their fears and build trust in one another.

3. Escape room

Escape the office to a fun and challenging escape room experience that requires teamwork and strategy to break out of.

4. City or town scavenger hunt

Coworkers can get to know each other and the area around the office with a fun scavenger hunt activity. Create small teams from across departments. 

5. Team picnic

Have a no-stress outdoor lunch with favorite yard games, grilling, and sunshine to get out of the office and enjoy some time as a team. If you like, invite employee’s family members to the fun. 

6. Visit a local tourist site

Play tourist for an afternoon and take the team on a group trip to a local site. You will learn about the local area and bond over a new shared experience.

7. Community service day

Give back to the community and get to know each other with an organized community service day. You can collect litter at a park or volunteer at a food bank. Contributing to the community is both satisfying and impactful.

Start team building today

Building a collaborative and positive team culture has never been more important than it is now, in the age of large-scale remote work.

Put these virtual and in-person fun work activity ideas to good use. You'll make the workday more enjoyable and increase your employees’ sense of belonging and comfort in the workplace. Increased productivity, tenure at the company, and profitability will follow.

BetterUp helps managers and company leaders increase employee engagement with fun team-building activities that don’t feel forced.

Learn more about how we help individuals, teams, and businesses build workplaces that employees enjoy and want to return to, year after year.

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Published June 23, 2021

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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