Sure ghosts and vampires are scary. But have you ever found yourself roped into a dreadful "team-building activity"?
In celebration of Halloween, here is a quick piece for which we've listed our most disliked ones, in no particular order.
Activities that cross the personal safe space
Games such as The Human Knot or Trust Fall can sound armless to many but if you are someone who does not like to be touched or held, it can easily sound like a nightmare.
It is not easy to express those boundaries in a group setting and often people do not know what games will be played so they cannot warn the organisers in advance. Removing oneself from such games might feel very difficult for some. An easy way to alleviate anxiety here is to simply give a way out before the game starts and clearly announce that this is not a mandatory exercise.
Having to perform
Something that most extroverts will love: activities such as stage performances, role playing, or improv can bring a chill down the spine of any introverts we know.
If you really want to include such games we would recommend not to use them as icebreakers and proposing them towards the end of the retreat when people feel more comfortable with one another.
Sharing is great and sharing circles can feel really good. But games such as "Truth or Dare" can sometimes make people feel like they have to reveal personal stories which can become uncomfortable for both the storyteller and the audience afterward.
We are not saying to make your whole retreat a sober event (even though you would be surprised how fun those are as well) but relying purely on alcohol and partying to create connections within your team is a bad idea. First off, not everyone drinks, for many different (and often personal ) reasons, so it is easy to make some people feel excluded. Second of all, alcohol alters behaviors and it makes them difficult to predict.
A few drinks together as a team is a nice relaxing event but it is rarely what will create timeless memories or foster long-term collaborations.
"Food fights" or games that require investing in a lot of items that will be discarded immediately after. Why be wasteful? This also raises the question of: is this activity aligned with our company's values?
None inclusive activities
Not everyone loves (or is able to do) a hard-core workout or a 2h hike uphill. These activities should be fun and "out of the ordinary" ways for colleagues to bond, not yet another way for the most competitive individuals to show off and "perform".
To conclude, we are not saying not to do any of these (just maybe the wasteful ones) but to be mindful when picking activities for your event.
As much as some of these might sound to some individuals, the important thing to remember is the goal of your workation. More often than not, it is to create connections between people.
To minimize feelings of awkwardness, disconnections, and non-inclusions, ask for employees' feedback on the different activities beforehand, remind everyone that those games are optional, and adapt to different levels of abilities.