We get it - we’ve seen the looks on people’s faces when we say “team building activity” or “let's play some retreat activities”. Sitting around in a circle and playing two truths and a lie isn’t always appealing, especially if you’re doing it every few months!
The point of a corporate retreat is to bring your team together, increase productivity, get to know one another, and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Though we’d all love if team building was as easy as a few beers and a 5-star dinner, it takes a little bit of planning to get it right.
We plan corporate offsites for a living, meaning retreat activities and team-building games are a bit of our forte. Through the years, we’ve seen it all: the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Getting to know your team shouldn’t feel like a boring task, so keep reading for our top 10 most engaging retreat activities for adults to play at your next company offsite.
Quick Tip: The word ‘team-building’ can trigger a lot of eye rolling and groans from a large group of adults. Sometimes, the best way to introduce team-building is to simply call it a ‘retreat activity,’ you don’t want to build resentment before you even begin! Without further ado here are ..
Our Top 10 Most Engaging Retreat Activities for Adults
Commonalities - the Tried and True Get-To-Know-You Retreat Activity
Getting to know one another doesn’t always have to be a big ordeal. One of our favourite ways to break the ice with teams on a corporate retreat is to get talking. A great way to get everyone chatting is to play Commonalities. Split your team into groups of 4, and have them come up with four common things amongst themselves. It could be as simple as ‘we’ve all been to Disney World’ or as obscure as ‘we all have a 4.8 Uber rating’. Though it seems easy, it gives people a way to find common ground, and occasionally, can be quite difficult! Spice it up and make it a competition - the first group to get there wins!
As a remote team ourselves, we have a tendency to get competitive (truly competitive). One of our favourite retreat activities is to play teammate trivia. Before you head out on your corporate retreat, have your team answer different questions about themselves. It could be as simple as “what is your dog’s name?”, or as specific as “what was your nickname as a child?”. Allocate a trivia master in advance, and split your team up into groups of 4. Have everyone equipped with sheets and a pen/pencil, and go! Your team will have a chance to answer fun questions, while learning about their coworkers.
Similar to teammate trivia, playing a themed game of jeopardy is a sure-fire way to not only get the team excited, but get their hearts racing and the competitive juices flowing. Start by picking themes - it doesn’t always have to be work related, but instead can come from the employees themselves. There are a number of online templates that replicate Jeopardy directly and can be used, or feel free to create your own. Get folks a ‘buzzer’ (it can be just a red sign they hold up), cue up the jeopardy music, and get playing!
Near and dear to our hearts is Salad Bowl - one of Monikers’ favourite retreat activities is played at our own bi-annual company retreats. A mixed up version of charades, Salad Bowl gets folks out of their comfort zones, and gives coworkers a chance to organically open up.
To start, find a big bowl. Give each person a few small slips of paper and have them write anything on them - from animals, celebrities to sports teams, nothing is off limits! Once there is a suitable number of papers, put them all in a salad bowl.
Split your team up in two. To start, a person from the first team picks a word out of the bowl, and describing the clue on the paper, gets their teammates to try to guess the word. It is similar to Taboo, where they must describe it without using any part of the word. When they guess it right, they can pick another slip of paper. Each teammate has 1 minute to continue picking words, until their time is up. The bowl then goes to the next team, and then back. It gets passed around until there are no more words in the bowl - the teams then count how many words they got correct.
Now, here’s where it gets tricky. After the first round of guessing, the words go back into the bowl. Round two is played the same way, except the person has to act out the clue for the team to guess.
Round three is played the same, except this time, the player can only say one word to try and get their team to guess. Scores from each round are tallied up at the end, and the team with the higher score, wins!
Retreat Activity Time!
A great way to get teams chatting with one another is to get busy! This doesn’t necessarily have to be something like musical chairs (yawn!), but can instead be a fun activity away from the office, like escape rooms or axe throwing. Giving your employees a chance to get out of a typical work environment allows them the space to connect with one another on a more casual level. We always suggest cooking classes to our clients because it allows for people to taste the local cuisine and is an activity that almost everyone enjoys (either the preparing or eating part!)
Looking for something a bit more relaxed and that can be done as part of a welcome reception at the beginning of the retreat? We recommend placing ‘conversation cards’ such as these on each of the high-top tables in order to spark interesting new discussions between colleagues. It can be an easy way to start conversations, avoid awkward small talk and allow colleagues the chance to really connect with one another.
For the Virtual Retreat Activities, Brackets!
This is new to the Moniker team this year, but was highly successful in connecting us on a weekly basis. Similar to a sports or tournament bracket, creating a themed bracket for your team to complete is a ton of fun, and a great conversation starter. To begin, create a bracket based on a theme - it could be anything from ‘the best soft drinks’ to ‘coolest celebrities’.
Set it up like a typical sports bracket, where all the options are on either side. Send it to your team for them to complete. The most ‘voted for’ option is the one that wins, and moves forward. Keep the suspension up by only having your team complete one side each week - nobody will know who the winner is until the very end!
Company Retreat Bingo
This is a retreat activity that can span the entire time of an offsite, and is great for encouraging teamwork and collaboration naturally during leisure time. The game incorporates a series of challenges that adult participants must complete to cross off corresponding squares on their bingo cards.
At our retreat in Mexico, we created the squares so that you had to interact with certain colleagues. A couple of examples were ‘beat Sean at a rock-paper-scissors contest’ or ‘do a Tik Tok dance with Sydney.’ But there were also plenty of generic squares such as ‘take a lime juice shot’ or ‘learn 3 new facts about your coworkers.’ Offer a small prize (even just brownie points) to the first one to complete their card in order to encourage participation!
Rock, Papers, Scissors (with a twist)
We all know how to play rock, paper, scissors, but let’s add an extra twist to the game. Have your entire group pair off for their initial match, and play the game. What happens next? The loser of the match becomes the cheerleader for the person that just won. They then follow their player, giving excited whoops and woos as their teammates win another round.
The winners will continue to gather more cheerleaders from the losing sides, until you have two final players with their respective group of cheerleaders facing off against one another. This version allows teammates to continue to support each other, and makes light of the competition aspect of the game.
Who Am I?
Who Am I? Is a classic retreat activity that is perfect to get people relaxed and laughing with one another. It’s also great for large groups and doesn’t require much prep, just a couple of pens and sticky notes.
Before you play the game, have the group write the name of a famous person or well-known character on a sticky note and collect them into a pile. Think Justin Beiber, Micheal Jordan, The Little Mermaid, etc. Ensure that their people or characters that everyone will know.
To begin the game, hand a sticky note to each player and ask them to stick it to their forehead, without looking at the name.
Then give your group time to walk around and ask each other questions to discover the name on their sticky note. The only rule is that the questions can only be answered with Yes or No. The game ends when everyone has correctly guessed their player!
Ask The Experts
We don’t shy away from saying we here at Moniker are experts when it comes to company retreats. If you want even more activity ideas for your next offsite, check out our blog post which lists our favourite 10 company retreat team-building activities.
If you want to know where to start for planning your company retreat, check out our step by step blog post! Not sure how to budget your that same company retreat? We’ve got you covered there too. If you’re feeling ready to jump into the process, reach out to us and we’ll get you started on this exciting company retreat planning journey.