Organizational success is largely dependent on how fast and in what way its people connect with each other for mutual benefit.
Why business needs team-building games or exercises? The most obvious benefits of doing team-building initiatives at work include:
- Facilitates collaborative and motivated work culture as these activities are seen as a move towards bringing individuals together
- Helps in agile problem solving and decision making as many heads/hands contribute in the process
- Fosters responsive and meaningful communication as employees come to know personality, desires, strengths and weaknesses of their co-workers
- Aids use of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking by moving employees away from the usual job set up that recharges and refreshes them
- Creates atmosphere to enhance productivity by identifying and eliminating obstacles or by improving existing ways of working
- Boosts employee morale as they feel the company and colleagues are interested in knowing and developing them, a valid reason for employee retention
- Simple games or brain teasers can also keep everyone awake during morning meetings. It helps creative juices flow, which in turn makes your meetings more productive.
- Finally, the learning and insights from team-building games can be transferred to the actual work environment resulting in better work equations and organizational performance
Top 20 Team Building Games for Energized Fun Learning
1) Egg Drop – egg drop game
Messy on the surface but high on collaboration and engagement, Egg Drop is a classic team building game that unites groups on creative problem solving. The idea is to build egg package/carrier that can keep the whole uncooked egg intact by sustaining a 2-4-storey drop. Material for making the package usually includes straws, tape, plastic, balloons, rubber band, newspapers and the entire activity lasts for about 1-1.5 hours. The team that survives this free fall is the winner. In case of a tie, increasing the height for the egg-fall serves as a tiebreaker.
2) Dog, Rice, Chicken – team building game dog
A game that gets your grey-cells turbo charged with lateral thinking and planning – dog, rice, chicken encourages creative problem solving within team. One of the group members is allotted the role of a farmer and the rest team acts as villagers. The farmer has to return home along with its 3 purchases (Dog, Rice and Chicken) by crossing a river in a boat. He can carry only one item with him on the boat. He cannot leave the dog alone with the chicken because the dog will eat the chicken, and he cannot leave the chicken alone with the bag of grain because the chicken will eat the bag of grain. How does he get all three of his purchases back home safely? The villagers can help him in arriving at the solution, which is really simple if the group thinks creatively and together.
3) Talking in Circles – talking in circles game
This is a very fun and challenging game that requires lot of communication and coordination among the teammates. The group is asked to stand in a circle around a long piece of string tied at the ends to form a circle. The team is next asked to create shapes with the string – square, triangle, figure 8, rectangle and many other shapes. To increase the difficulty level, the members are asked to shut their eyes/be blindfold and repeat the exercise. To further the complexity of task, random team members may be “muted” at different times thereby making communication more challenging. This activity also tests the level of leadership and trust within a group.
4) Two sides of a Coin – 2 sides of a Coin game
Building on the timeless notion of positive and negative from a single experience, team of 2 or more come together and discuss a situation. For instance if there are two members, Partner A shares something negative that happened in their life with Partner B. It can be a personal or professional memory, but mandatorily a true incident. Then Partner A discusses the same memory again, but this time focusing on the bright side with positive takeaways. Partner B helps sheds light on the silver lining of the negative experience. Afterward, they switch roles. This short yet effective activity helps team members see the good in things and people and challenges the preconceived notions.
5) Blind Drawing – talking in circles game
A team activity that encourages communication, especially listening – blind drawing is deceivingly simple yet effective. The game requires 2 players to sit back to back, where one team member is given a picture of an object or word. Without specifying directly what the thing is, the person must describe the image without using words that clearly give away the image. These should be non-related words for instance – if it is a “flower” then the person can describe it as hearts put together (to form flower petals), a string/rope holding the hearts (Stem), rain/water drops (leaves) and so on. The person with pen and paper draws the object based on the verbal description and their own interpretation. The final outcome is fun to see and depict whether 2 members can effectively communicate, imagine, and innovate in each other’s company.
6) The Mine Field / Watch your step – mine field game
Select an open area like a parking lot or a park for doing this activity. Prepare an enclosed area with tape and mark the start point and end point. Along the route place several handheld objects/toys randomly at specific distance. Divide the group into teams of 2 or 4 and blindfold one of the members. The others stand outside the enclosed area and verbally instruct the blindfolded teammate to navigate across the route, picking up the toys and avoiding stepping on sheets of paper (mines) or outside the enclosed area. This highly engaging game takes about 15-30 minutes and is awesome to convey learning on trust, active listening and communication. To make it more difficult, create specific routes the blindfolded team members must walk or only allow certain words/clues to be used for guiding.
7) Three Truths and a Lie – Journal – 13
With absolutely no tools required, this team building game could be done anytime and anywhere without much hassles. All you require is 3 or more members sitting in a circle, with each person taking turns to state four facts about self, out of which 3 are true and the remaining 1 is a lie. The instruction is to frame the lie realistically rather than making it look hard to believe and easy to guess. Once the facts are stated, the other team members take turns to identify the lie from the 4 statements. Once all are done with guessing, the right answer is revealed at the end. The game works wonder for new or geographically scattered teams who can benefit by knowing more about their teammates. It challenges preconceived judgments and helps introverts to open up in a group set-up.
8) Team Birthday Line Up – Team Birthday Line Up game
A great icebreaker team activity, this quick and simple game is recommended for training that involves focus on problem solving, communication and cooperation. The participants are asked to fall in line side-by-side. They are then asked to rearrange their line in order of their birthdays (considering only the month and date). What’s the catch? The challenge is that the group members cannot talk at all. They can resort to using sign language, nudges, and other techniques to determine each other’s birthday. This is ideal team challenge game for more than 8 participants and you might see some members taking lead and directing the members to achieve desired outcome. Variation to the game involves blindfolding couple of participants, using platform/bench for members to stand – where if anyone falls, the group has to start all over again.
9) Tower of Hanoi – Tower of Hanoi game
This team building game with a mathematical twist allows for ample group discussion, planning and problem solving within the participants. The puzzle consists of three towers/posts/rods with 5 or more discs arranged in conical shape with smallest at the top. The objective of the game is to move the entire stack to another rod retaining the particular order. There are few conditions to be followed while playing this game:
- At a time, only one disc can be moved from the tower
- Only the uppermost disc on a tower can be shifted and
- The team is not allowed to put a larger disc on a smaller disc.
The minimum number of moves required to solve a Tower of Hanoi puzzle is 2n – 1, where n is the number of disks.
10) Frostbite – Frostbite game
This game tests the teams’ instinct to survive in the worst. Divide everyone in groups of four or five. The scenario is that the teams are lost in arctic and they need to build a shelter to withstand the cold winds. The team elects a leader who is supposed to be suffering from frostbite, so he cant move physically while other team members are supposed to be struck by snow blindness and must be blindfolded. The leader instructs the team on how to build the shelter without manual helping and the teammates must do so without being able to see.
11) Penny for your thoughts – penny for game
Team members are often hesitant to open up with each other and this hampers fluid conversation. To help loosen up teammates and feel comfortable, the game penny for thoughts is perfect icebreaker. This involves collecting pennies/any other coins with listed year and dumping them in a container or box. The important thing to note here is that any of the coin shouldn’t be dated older than the youngest team member. Next, each of group participants draws out a coin and based on the listed year, the person has to share something significant/memorable/special that happened to them in that year. This gives interesting insights into the lives of your teammates and makes future interactions stress-free.
12) Pencil Drop – Pencil Drop game
All you need to carry out this hilarious activity are some pencils, strings, and water bottle. This fun game breaks the tension within the group and allows for great one-on-one bonding. To do the pencil drop, tie one of the ends of both the stings at the eraser-end of the pencil and tie the remaining two open ends around the waist of two team members facing their backs to each other. Ask them to move back and back in order to lower down the pencil into the water bottle placed on the floor below. The participant pair is not allowed to use hands and this can be done as a standalone fun challenge or different pairs can do this at the same time as a race.
13) Flip it Over – Flip it Over team building game
If you want your team to understand the nitty-gritties of working together and collaborating in true sense then “flip it over” is your game. Ask 6-8 participants to huddle together and stand on a blanket/towel/tarp, leaving a quarter of the portion empty. Challenge the group to flip over the tarp/blanket so that they are standing on the other side of the sheet. And all this without getting off the blanket or touching the ground outside the sheet. This will force the group to think of creative solutions and truly work together in achieving the common goal. It will also highlight the problems that pop up if any team member refuses to cooperate, creating a dilemma for the others.
14) Zoom – zoom team building game
Everyone loves pictures. And this game gives just that. The activity takes about 30 minutes and there are 30 sequential pictures that work together to form a narrative. The pictures are distributed to the participants and are asked to not reveal it to the others. They can of course talk and describe what features on their picture. The task calls for creating a unified story and placing the pictures as per the sequence, without the teammates looking at one another’s pictures. This game gives lot of scope for learning certain crucial things like – communicating intelligently with patience, appreciating others’ viewpoint, making sense of the information at hand and for leaders to emerge and take control of the situation.
15) Salt and Pepper – salt and pepper team building game
The art of asking right questions in team is very important. Salt and Pepper is an extremely appealing way to learn facts about team members and also assess one’s ability to communicate effectively with other members. It requires simple stationery like pen, tape and paper to set the ball rolling. Pair-Words are thought and written on different sheets of paper like Yin-Yang, Bread-Butter, Salt-Pepper, Sun-Moon, and so on. If Salt is written on one paper, Pepper will be written on totally different paper. One paper is taped on the back of each person, without letting him or her see what’s written. The group is instructed at the same time to search for their partners. The fun is that they can only ask “Yes-No” questions in order to find out what is written on their back. Once they figure out the answer, they can find their respective partner easily.
16) Spider Web – spider web game team building game
Though bit demanding on the logistics front, Spider Web makes for amazing team building game with its ability to make the group members learn valuable lessons in persistence, cooperation, leadership, support and trust. A web is built using large ball of string and duct tape, between two-pillar posts/tree or any other solid fixed pole like object. Each team gets a point every time someone passes through a hole of weaved web without touching the string. Once a particular hole is used to pass by someone, it gets closed for subsequent members. This requires strategizing on part of the team in terms of safety and suitability of different passages for different team members.
17) The Barter Puzzle – puzzle team building game
This activity lasts for 1-2 hours depending upon the level of cooperation/negotiation and speed of decision-making among different equal-sized groups. Each group is given different jigsaw puzzle with same level of complexity. The team that is able to put all the pieces together in least possible time is the winner. The challenge comes with puzzle pieces being mixed with other groups’ jigsaw puzzle. The team has to come up with ways to get the pieces back through negotiation, trading, exchanging team members, etc. However it should be a group decision and not individual choice. This calls for great deal of problem solving and consensus building within the group.
18) Human Knot – human knot team building game
This game combines team fun with communication and creativity. The participants are asked to stand in circle, shoulder to shoulder, facing inside of the circle. Each member is asked to extend his or her right arm and grab hand of someone standing across the circle. And the same is repeated with left arm. There are two conditions to follow –
- Everyone should hold hands of two different people
- No one should hold hand of someone who’s standing directly next to them
The objective of the game is to untangle everyone forming the human knot without breaking the circle. If the chain breaks, the group has to repeat the exercise.
19) Goodie Bag Skits – goodie bag team building game
A great way for people to step out of comfort zone and feel comfortable with colleagues is to make them perform together. And skits are not only entertaining but allow for planning and collaboration among team members. This game works well for large group of people with around 20-50 participants. They are then divided into teams of 3-8 people and given goodie bag with multiple random items. Each group is given 5-10 minutes to prepare a skit and perform it under 3 minutes. Topics can be chosen by teams or can be predefined by the facilitator. Groups perform based on the creative use of items in the bag. Other teams watch the performance and once all are done performing, winner can be declared based on team voting.
20) Balloon Questions – balloon questions team building game
When new/scattered/virtual teams are concerned, the objective is often to learn more about other team members in a stress-free, fun and interactive way. Balloon Questions is the ideal choice in such scenarios. All you need is balloons, paper, and pens/pencils. Give each person a balloon and a small strip of paper. Ask them to write down a question on the slip of paper and place it in their balloon, then blow the balloon up and tie it. Once everyone has finished, instruct the group to hit their balloons into the air, trying to keep all the balloons in the air for as long as possible. After a few seconds tell everyone to grab any balloon (other than their own) and sit in a circle. Each person takes a turn popping his/her balloon and then answering the question. For small groups you may have each person in the group answer every question.