Keeping your employees motivated is vital in many areas of business, including employee retention, worker creativity, commitment, productivity, and energy. Using the right motivational activities can have a positive impact on your company and is definitely worth your time and effort.
Activity #1: Trivia Event
Having trivia events is an excellent way to combine learning with employee motivation and team-building. You can use trivia questions about your company, your mission statement, or even your team members. Trivia events are also a great training tool, as you can use questions that help team members remember important processes and details. For instance, a car insurance company can use trivia facts about the insurance laws in various states as a fun learning tool. A good trivia event will run between 30 minutes to an hour or more.
- Written trivia questions
- Answer sheets for each team - one per question, including a spot for team name
- Whiteboard or flip chart for scorekeeping
- Divide your group into teams of at least two people each.
- Read a trivia question and give a specific amount of time for them to answer
- Have each team hand in their answer sheets
- Announce which teams were correct and have them put one point under their name on the whiteboard or flip chart.
- At the end of the questions, the team with the most points wins!
Activity #2: Scavenger Hunts
A scavenger hunt allows you to combine teamwork, fun, and a bit of exercise all into one activity. You can have your team track down everyday items in your office like a paper clip or a three ring binder. Or, you could ask them to get specific data from coworkers or signatures from managers to make things even more challenging. This activity can take between 15 and 30 minutes.
- One scavenger hunt list per team
- Pen or pencil for checking off items
- A small prize for first place
- Divide your group into teams of at least two people each.
- Set a particular time the teams should report back with their items.
- The first team to report back with all their items wins.
Activity #3: Letter to Future Self
This activity is individual, but is a powerful self-development and motivational tool. It can provide motivation to reach personal and professional goals in the next several months. You can allow anywhere from 15 - 30 minutes for the exercise, depending on the focus level of your team.
Materials for Each Participant:
- A few pieces of paper
- A pen or pencil
- An envelope with a stamp affixed
- Ask each team member to write a letter to themselves six months in the future. They should write about what they hope their life is like at that time. Have them detail what they hope to have achieved by then, as well as any advice they would give themselves for the future.
- When the activity is complete, have each participant fold the letter, place it in the envelope, and seal it.
- Each participant should then write his or her address on the front of the sealed envelope and hand it to you.
- Six months later, place the letters in the mail, using the company's return address.
- When participants receive the letter, they can reflect on what they hoped for and see how they've done on their goals. It's a great way to see how far they've come personally and professionally in a short time.
Activity #4: Building with Straws
This fun activity teaches participants about the importance of communication, both verbal and nonverbal. You can set any time limit on this activity between 10 and 20 minutes.
- 150 straws per group
- One roll of tape per group
- Divide the room into teams of at least three.
- Tell them they have a specific amount of time (whatever time you decided) to build the tallest self-supporting structure of straws possible.
- Give them one to two minutes to discuss, plan, and organize as a group.
- After the discussion, the participants can begin to build, but they can no longer talk.
- The tallest self-supporting structure wins!
Activity #5: Use What You Have
This activity focuses on creativity and teamwork. Create a specific project with clear parameters and a specific goal, such as moving a ping pong ball 10 feet, and provide each team the same supplies of your choosing. You'll be amazed at what your teams come up with! This game requires at least 20 minutes.
Supplies Per Team:
(Supplies will vary based on the challenge selected; this list is based on a ping pong ball challenge.)
- Ping pong ball
- Roll of tape
- A pack of construction paper
- Pipe cleaners
- Wooden building blocks
- Divide your group into equally sized teams.
- Explain the goal and parameters - whether or not furniture in the room may be utilized, for instance.
- Give each team their materials. (Don't explain the purpose of each item - figuring this out is part of the fun and benefit of the activity.)
- At the end of the time, have each team demonstrate their solution.
Activity #6: Group Timeline
This is a great activity to help your team get to know each other, as well as connect their stories to the company's history. It's also a great way to get people talking about generational and cultural differences. It's simple to do, but because the stories may take time, you want to allow at least 45 minutes for this activity.
- Whiteboard or flip chart
- 4 small slips of paper per participant
- Additional small slips of paper for company information
- Pins or tape
- Create a timeline on the whiteboard or paper, starting with the date the oldest team member was born or the year the company was founded, whichever is oldest.
- Use small slips of paper to write down important business events, such as founding, mergers, name changes, acquisitions, and more. Pin or tape them to the appropriate points in the timeline.
- Have each participant write down four important moments in their life, one per small slip of paper. Have them tape or pin them on the timeline and briefly describe what happened and the importance of the event.
Choose the Right Motivational Activities
Team-building activities sometimes have a bad reputation for either being dull and uninspiring or being too extreme and causing hurt feelings or even leaving bruises. To avoid having your activities backfire, choose activities that have these characteristics:
- Positive experience. To keep your activities motivational, avoid simulated violence, harm or humiliation to any participants. While friendly competition can be fun, it should be done in a way that fosters unity, not division.
- Structure and focus. The activity should have clearly defined goals that are related to building relationships on the team and have parallels to the workplace. Employees should be clear on the purpose of the event and what they're trying to achieve.
- Challenge. An appropriate level of challenge is important - many times people learn the most when pushed outside their comfort zone.
These types of team activities are motivating because they give participants a sense of control, a clear objective to meet, a new experience in a different environment, and a safe, fun, rewarding experience.
The Purpose of Motivational Activities
Each of these activities is designed to get your team talking, thinking, and creatively solving problems. They stay away from both being boring and being dangerous and instead focus on creating a positive shared experience. The participants should learn something from the activity that they can take with them back into their work day.