If you’re a manager, you may be noticing some trends as the economy begins to pick up the pieces post-pandemic. You may find that your teams are having a tough time reconnecting or that your team isn’t meeting their goals or living up to their potential. You might even find yourself doing other people’s jobs because this lack of connection means you need to micromanage things outside your scope.
Maybe you feel the need to rekindle that previous drive or you want to train up leaders to help pick up some of the extra work you’re doing. Maybe you just feel your team deserves a break and some fun together after a long 2020 and bumpy 2021.
It might be time to consider a fun, professional development activity for your team!
If there’s anything 2020 taught us, it’s that we can do things remotely. But more than that, it taught us that isolation deeply impacts our performance as a team. As humans, we’re social creatures and work better as a team—but there are a lot of things that can make you or your team feel isolated, whether it’s your cubicle walls or a global pandemic.
Isolation affects our engagement on an individual level and keeps us from organizing to pursue our goals as businesses, organizations, or affinity groups. According to Gallup, increased engagement leads to 17% higher productivity, 41% lower absenteeism, and 21% higher profitability. Being disengaged risks all three of these stats lowering.
Team activities are an excellent way to strengthen connections and create better teams—especially when you can make them fun professional development activities. These activities can be anything from Zoom-based costume parties all the way to spiritual firewalking sessions. And if you’re pairing them with training or education, you’ll want to be sure that the activities up for consideration match the content and your team.
The truth is your team learns better by doing. For example, when people pore over a book in a classroom, they retain 20% on average. But if they engage with experiences, rather than lectures, that retention jumps to about 75%! With the right combination of activities and training, you’re able to provide your team with development that teaches leadership skills, social skills, and teamwork values.
These fun professional development activities may involve any number of aspects. They could have life lessons that may help everyday determination. Other activities might allow a team to conquer a difficult but low-stakes challenge. Others simply allow for a group to have a good time together. Whatever your objective, you not only pave the way to financial benefits as a business when you provide your team fulfilling experiences, you may also alleviate social, mental, and emotional struggles. Here are three areas where fun professional development activities really shine:
Team activities also help increase the odds of your leaders and team members building stronger relationships and connections to their peers. As Business News Daily details, when workers are disengaged and feel disconnected, productivity and customer service levels suffer.
This sort of alienation and isolation affects your employees on a personal level and your organization as a whole. By helping them build better relationships and connections with their fellow peers, not only will they come to feel that their work is important to the team—they’ll feel an affinity for supporting the team and your organization.
Use Physical Activity
When you combine coaching lessons with physical activity, you get your whole body involved, which increases retention. Getting this physical exercise gets your blood pumping and, according to the National Library of Medicine, has the proven effect of reducing anxiety and depression.
But thankfully you don’t have to make your team run a marathon in order to get them involved in a fun professional development activity. You just want to get their whole body involved in the process of learning. As Harvard reports, even just the simple act of doodling can help us pay better attention to a message—up to 29% more information.
Bring the FUN
But the thing that glues all this together is the engagement. The fun. Telling your team that they’re going to sit through training and then go to the gym is probably NOT what they signed up for out of a team-building exercise. The benefits of making things fun cannot be understated.
By having fun, you make these lessons and activities user-friendly. You’re not exercising for the sake of pumping blood, you’re having fun… which is also exercising… which is also pumping your blood. This helps cultivate a positive attitude in your team members and provides something called eustress, according to Very Well Mind. Eustress is the “good” kind of stress that keeps us feeling vital and alive. This happens when you ride a roller coaster or, in this case, tackle an exciting challenge with a team. It also helps build social support and stave off burnout in the workplace.
The important thing for a successful and fun professional development activity is choosing the right activity, combining it with the right training, and making it engaging enough that nobody feels like they’re forced to participate.
When it comes to planning your fun professional development activity, you first want to determine three aspects: where, how long, and what.
A scavenger hunt or egg drop relay isn’t going to fit in the space of a small office floor. It might get messy, and you may disrupt others in the building. Office spaces work great for quick board games, icebreakers, and problem-solving activities that use your hands and encourage people to communicate.
If you’re able to clear out an office room or move some of the desks to make space, you can accommodate bigger activities—but those might work better for an outdoor setting or a facility specifically designed to host your team.
An obstacle course might sound like a lot of fun. But if you’ve only got a lunch break to do it in, you’re going to end up with a lot of really tired team members and not enough time to incorporate training. Conversely, you’re going to need a lot of board games and icebreakers to occupy people if you blocked off a whole day.
Make sure that you know for sure how long you and your team have to spend on fun professional development activities. Make doubly sure that you know how long you have to prep as well. The last thing you want is for your team to show up and wait while you’re still setting things up.
Once you’ve figured out your space and your timeframe, you can choose which fun professional development activities you have at your disposal that will fit the setting. Now you need to choose the right activity for your parameters. Here’s a quick rundown of some examples:
Whether you’re planning it yourself or investing in activities hosted by a third party, you want to make sure that you’re combining both physical and mental aspects so that people get their whole body involved. That way they’ll retain more.
But the most important thing is to make sure everyone can be involved. Many activities that involve physical activity may exclude those unable to participate. That doesn’t mean you have to reduce the scope of your team activity though. If you have a team member who has limitations that prevent them from doing the activity, it’s up to you to find ways to include them. This could include cheering from the sidelines or timing their peers during events—have them help you determine how they can feel like part of the team.
As the manager, you know best when it comes to the makeup of your team, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what fun professional development activities they can all participate in. When you plan correctly, you should expect your team to come out of these activities with fond memories, new lessons, and excitement for the next team-building activity.
Like we said at the top, 2020 taught us a lot of things. Another lesson we learned was that people are struggling—isolation and social distancing hamper how we thrive. People have a lot of fear and insecurity about the future. This is the perfect time to help those people who are transitioning back, and fun professional development activities are a great way to do it! These engaging activities help your leaders and team members re-engage with people.
And this doesn’t just apply to people returning to the office. If you have team members who still work from home, this is a safe and satisfying way to get them out for a day when they’re in need of human connection. The more you facilitate these connections, the more those connections grease the wheels of productivity.
At Provo Beach, we’re here to provide you all of it. We love to teach and train, and we have the facilities and organization to do it. To help meet your company’s leadership development needs we have developed the Leadership DOJO at Provo Beach.
Our goal is to provide a “learning by doing” environment that focuses on helping teams learn and practice new skills in order to get the most benefit from training and activities. We’re able to easily host groups from 10-20 and, with the right amount of facilitators, can even manage groups as big as 50 for a recreation-based learning experience.
Provo Beach’s fun professional development activities include everything from team cooperation for employees all the way to training on goal-setting strategies and failure recovery. We often structure our 4-8 hour sessions as a combination of engaging training and fun activities. What this means is that your team gets key lessons and coaching followed by immediate practice using physical games.
By engaging all your senses during the learning process, you gain happy employees, cohesive teams, and an increased ROI on the training you invest in. If you want to commit to doing something fun as a team—if you want to organize them to learn new things and take on new challenges—then reach out to us about our Leadership DOJO. We’ll talk with you about the struggles you’re having as a manager, offer ways we can help through lessons and development activities, and provide your team an experience they’ll never forget.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org today if you have any questions or concerns about our services or your team’s needs.