How to construct a successful team outing

Office & Culture

For many, team outings are a bit like Marmite: either you love them, or you hate them. While they can be a vital part of a manager’s toolkit for maintaining their team’s level of satisfaction in the workplace, when done wrong they can be painful for everyone involved.

As an organisation that often writes and advises on the benefits of workplace wellbeing, we’re always trying to crack the code on – well, craic – in the workplace. And this time we’re tackling a big one. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to build a team outing that will spark joy rather than doubt.

Don’t call it a ‘team-building exercise’

‘Team-building’ is a loaded phrase that, for many, conjures up images of awkward interactions and forced exercises. Given the phrase’s reputation, many employees may be dismissive of your attempts to strengthen the bonds between your team if you send around an email with ‘team-building’ in the subject line. Instead perhaps call it a ‘team outing’ or something similarly innocuous that leaves a bit more space for interpretation. This phrasing also leaves a bit of room for the scope of what your outing can accomplish; you could be aiming to learn a new skill, get to know one another better as co-workers, or simply heading out to have a bit of fun.

Go during office hours

When a company organises a team outing, they will often choose to hold the event after work or on the weekend. While it is important to maintain a productive working day, it is also important for you to show your team that you value their personal time and want them to have a healthy work-life balance. Give up an afternoon’s work for your team outing; this will demonstrate to your employees that you value their workplace satisfaction and that you’re willing to sacrifice office hours in order to cultivate a healthy team. After all, a healthy team is a productive team.

Get everyone involved

While it may be tempting to hand off the assignment of organising the team outing to one or two employees, it is perhaps better to take a more collective approach to choosing what your team wants to do. Before passing the organisation on to anyone, hold a meeting where your entire team can work together to choose the outing. You can even ask interested employees to present different ideas and have the team vote on which they like best. If you spend the proper amount of time and energy on this stage of the process, not only will you have an outing that’s more aligned with the interests of your team, but you will also generate a certain level of excitement around the event. This increases the likelihood that your outing will be a success.

Collaborate, don’t compete

Not everyone likes competition. Things can go very wrong when your more introverted employees are forced to go up against those who are naturally more competitive. Instead of choosing an activity in which your employees must compete against one another, make sure that your outing encourages your team to rely on one another for success. While sporting-themed events can be useful as a tool with which to encourage good physical health amongst your employees, workshops and tours can also be extremely valuable options for a group outing as they are far less likely to foster competition between your staff. Try a coffee tasting at the Dublin Barista School, or take a tour of the Windmill Lane Recording Studios in Belfast, which has hosted such legendary clients as David Bowie, Ed Sheeran and The Rolling Stones. If improved physical health is at the top of the outing’s agenda, consider participating in a yoga workshop from the Himalaya Yoga Valley Centre in Cork. Whatever you choose to do, ensure that your employees are working together and learning together, as this is what will ultimately strengthen your bond as a team.

Be inclusive

When planning your team outing, it is vital that you meticulously plan around the individual needs of your employees. If any of your employees are differently abled, ensure that your chosen venue can accommodate them. If you and your team are going to be eating during your time outside of the office, ensure that all dietary requirements are met. On a more superficial level, you should also consider the different personality types of your employees when planning this event in order to avoid making anyone uncomfortable; for example, someone who is introverted should not necessarily be made to speak at the front of the room. To ensure that you know each employee’s personality and learning style well, you could avail of a personality and behavioral testing service like Emergenetics. The main idea of a team outing is to have a good time, and you want to ensure that your employees are put in the best possible environment for this.

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