Employees are kayaking together, playing Bubble Ball and archery tag, competitively decorating cupcakes, betting at the race track, golfing and more – all on company time. And not just once a year. Are these often-hefty team building expenditures worth the cost? Does the happy camaraderie and rise in team spirit really translate to greater creativity and performance back at the office?
According to a Forbes magazine article, “team building is the most important investment companies can make. It builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication and increases collaboration. [It results in] more engaged employees … boosting the bottom line.”
Inc. reports a direct correlation between employee happiness and engagement: “Companies that have happy employees outperform their competitors by 20 percent, and contented salespeople rack up 37 percent greater sales. Happy employees are 12 percent more productive and, on average, take 10 times fewer sick days.”
Their counterparts? Inc. says that “discontented employees cost companies between $450 and $500 billion each year.” Among other factors, this group has a higher rate of accidents and absenteeism, and causes more errors and defects.
Despite expert sources that champion team building, companies may need far more of it to better engage workers. Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace” survey found that 85 percent of employees worldwide are not engaged (67 percent) or are actively disengaged (18 percent) in their jobs. According to a recent Gallup blog, non-engaged workers “are not your worst performers, but they are indifferent to your organization. They give you their time, but not their best effort nor their best ideas.
“The economic consequences of this global ‘norm’ are approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity,” Gallup states.
Fortunately for New Jersey employers, numerous venues in our own backyard specifically cater to unique team experiences designed to build trust and confidence and improve communication, productivity and employee effectiveness.
NJ Coastal Sports
With two locations in Fairfield, Coastal Sports custom-designs dozens of interactive physical and mental challenges that energize teams and maximize their problem-solving and decision-making skills.
General Manager Barry Martin says the most recent economic downturn has increased demand for the firm’s corporate services. “As many companies reduce the size of their workforces, they’re asking remaining employees to do more, often outside of their basic skill sets. Team building activities help employers as well as employees better understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses and interests. This understanding improves communication and collaboration, which leads to innovation and creativity.”
Redefined roles within a reduced workforce has led to more activities centered around collaboration. “Fun activities that require solving a problem promote a sense of shared struggle that leads to more collaboration in the workplace,” Martin reports. He says a smaller workforce results in smaller task teams, noting a trend in activities designed around small groups of employees, such as those working on specific projects.
Crystal Springs Resort
Located on more than 4,000 sprawling, rolling acres in Hamburg, Crystal Springs – a golf, spa and culinary resort – features: three golf courses; a tavern, Italian bistro and al fresco dining; pool complex with hot tubs and saunas; a spa; and business center.
The resort offers wide-ranging seasonal and year-round activities designed for team building, including a custom obstacle course, archery tag competition, trap and skeet shooting, scavenger hunts, geo-trekking, winter Olympics, water sports, a Swing n’ Sip 3-hole golf scramble competition, a search and rescue, croquet competition, foot golf, corporate Pictionary and much more.
Linda Alloco, regional sales director for Crystal Springs, sees a recent uptick in corporate cooking contests, such as the Iron Chef Competition – in which teams prepare a meal that’s judged based on presentation, taste, originality, best name and teamwork – and the Cupcake Challenge – during which teams have one hour to decorate 20 cupcakes to be judged on teamwork, creativity and originality.
In the Blind Wine Tasting Game, team groups have 15 minutes to guess the continent, country, region, grape and year of each wine offered, followed by a tour of Crystal Springs’ world-class Wine Cellar.
Charity activities also are growing in popularity. Teams participating in the Charity Bike Build race to construct the ultimate human-powered, no-gasoline-needed rocket, known to many as a child’s bicycle – without instructions. Concurrently, other teammates navigate entertaining, innovative puzzles and challenges to earn enough “money” to purchase that last crucial part needed to make their team’s bike the first produced. In the Hands of Gratitude Challenge, teams use provided materials, tools and information to build functional high-end prosthetic hands that are donated to those in need.
During Minute Mayhem, another increasingly popular event, team members perform their best under pressure by racing against the clock to compete in short challenges.
“More companies are recognizing that team collaboration is a recipe for success,” Alloco states. “Coworkers gain respect for each other as well as their companies.”
Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment
The thrill of live horse racing makes Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment a unique choice for corporate team building. From the seasoned participant to novice bettor, for whom beginners’ betting instructions are provided, teams of employees enjoy rooting for their pick, and learning to win and lose gracefully. Event spaces include private rooms, open air decks, a rooftop terrace, Skybox Suites, Victory Sports Bar & Club and more. The rooftop terrace and east deck offer stunning views of New York City.
In addition to horse racing, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment provides custom menus for group dinners, BBQ contests, fundraisers and other off-site corporate events.
“Events at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment help build corporate team spirit as they drive new groups from various companies to an environment which is very different from their typical meeting or gathering,” claims Andrea Lokshin, vice president of sales and marketing for the company. “Who needs another boring hotel conference room when you can have rooftop views of Manhattan, live horse racing action, food from gourmet chefs and an atmosphere that brings people together in a much more exciting fashion? Creative juices and team bond flow when people are enjoying themselves.”
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