Culture greatly defines an organization. Positive company culture is the basis of employee happiness, hard work, and loyalty. However, a negative one can lead to burnout, turnover, and trouble finding talent in the future.
While adapting to all the changes brought on by COVID-19, maintaining company culture and team-building were some of the top challenges that businesses struggled with this year. Plans have been canceled, events have been postponed, and our homes have become our offices. Lost in the shuffle has been the ability to truly reward your employees for their commitment and productivity throughout these unforeseen circumstances.
With the holiday season rapidly approaching, and annual year-end office celebrations being on-hold indefinitely—your employees might be feeling even more disconnected from company culture. So, how do you show your team your appreciation for everything they’ve been able to accomplish and reward them accordingly given our current obstacles?
Rather than cutting your losses and kneeling to the ill-will of the conditions, you have to do what everyone’s been forced to do this entire year: think outside the box. Here are four team building activities to help you get your employees together and show your appreciation for the excellent work they’ve done all year.
Virtual holiday party
Even though holiday parties (and all social gatherings) are on hiatus for the moment, it doesn’t mean you can’t initiate a creative get-together with your employees. Following the framework of your “virtual happy hours,” a virtual holiday is quite feasible. Pick a date and time that works for everyone on your team and set up a festive video conference for you all to get together and reminisce about what the year could have been. You can take turns playing DJ throughout the “party” and even feast on holiday-themed cocktails and snacks throughout the celebration. If you want to get a bit more creative, set up a fun competition amongst your employees to see who can decorate their home workplace the best. The best part: it doesn’t have to be a 2 to 3-hour ordeal like most company holiday parties go. Make it short, meaningful, and, of course, fun!
Virtual contests and games
While large in-person, team building events are out of the question this year, virtual activities that offer a little friendly competition can be just as fun for staff—especially when prizes are on the line. To keep staff connected and instill a little excitement, here are some contest ideas you can plan:
- Holiday-themed jeopardy: From questions about classic movies, traditions around the world, or favorite recipes—there are plenty of answers to be had during a holiday-themed jeopardy contest. Not only will this be a fun team building activity for staff, but it will also be educational. To set up a virtual game, you can use a website called playfactile.com. Consider appointing a person or team to set up the competition and get the staff involved.
- A month-long scavenger hunt: Drinking eggnog, taking a picture of yourself in festive gear, or uploading a video of yourself singing a classic holiday tune are just some of the team building activities that can be added to a company-wide quest. To set up the hunt and engage staff, you can use an app called Scavify.
- An organization-wide cookie decorating contest: Evoke a little creativity from employees by sending them a cookie decorating kit and organizing a day to decorate them—either together or separately. At the end of the day, have employees submit pictures of their creations via a company-wide app to be judged by popular employee votes. To broaden the chances of winning, consider having a first, second, and third-place prize—and announce the winners on a team call.
- A team-wide step challenge: As the colder months approach, your staff may be looking for ways or encouragement to safely stay active. While this contest can go beyond the holiday season, it’s a great way to motivate employees to get moving and relieve stress. Websites like walkertracker.com can be used to build out large corporate challenges, and apps like Stridekick can be used for smaller group competitions.
- Virtual cooking/cocktail class: Less of a competition and more of an out of the box activity, virtual cooking/cocktail classes have been a big hit this year, and what better way to build some team camaraderie than with a dive into the culinary arts—holiday style! These affordable courses span all different types of cuisines and, you guessed it, holidays. Getting your employees together to make some dinners, snacks, and cocktails that go on par with the upcoming holidays of November and December would be a fantastic way to have some distanced fun with your team. Who doesn’t love a fun learning experience where you can endlessly indulge in your finished product?
Dinner and a Zoom
Everyone has a different palate. And although holiday parties tend to have a plethora of different things to snack on, everyone isn’t always satisfied with the spread that is offered. Enter “Dinner and a Zoom— a gathering meant to satisfy every employee’s culinary preferences. Set aside a time that works for your entire team and get together for a nice, makeshift team dinner. Allow each person to expense a to-go dinner from one of their local, go-to restaurants, and enjoy each others’ company from afar. Whether it’s a salad from a local cafe, a salmon dinner from a nice restaurant, or even a sandwich from the deli, everyone can nosh on something they genuinely enjoy while hanging with their teammates.
If none of the above work well with you or your team, you can always fall back on some traditional gift-giving for team building. Everyone who’s anyone always enjoys a nice gift and your employees are no exemption, especially if it comes from the heart. If you have a smaller team with employees you know quite well, gifts for each person depending on their particular interests and personalities show a great sentimental value. If you have a bigger team, a gift exchange between employees is the way to go. Not only does it give you an excuse to get together via your video conference tool of preference, but it’s an exciting and social way to get your team to show appreciation for each other. Whether you choose a “Secret Santa” or “White Elephant” format, a gift exchange is a great way to lift your employees’ spirits in what has been a stressful year and get them ready for the holidays.