Workforce & Workplace
Training Camp: Team Building Activities Inspired by Football
Mia Mends
Mia Mends
Benefits & Rewards Services
Sodexo USA

We are at the end of July and that means training camp for the National Football League (NFL) 2016 season is just around the corner. Before the teams officially take the field in the fall, they will spend copious amounts of time practicing and preparing this summer. It’s not too much of a stretch to consider how a little summer training and team-building could improve your team’s performance as well.

Last year, released a list of team-building exercises for sports teams, but its basic principles could easily be used in the workplace. Consider the following goals when planning your next team-building event.


Developing Relationships

While we all have interactions within the office, the key to developing meaningful relationships is talking about something other than work every once in a while. Conversations about non-office topics can help employees connect on a personal level, which leads to more empathy and support when you’re working together.

Even just having connections at work can improve performance. As we’ve reported on this blog before, people who have a best friend at work are 51 percent more likely to be engaged in their jobs, according to a Gallup survey. recommends something as simple as hosting a casual dinner at a leader or team-member’s home to help employees move outside of the office mentality and connect on a personal level.

The timing of relationship development is also important. In the same way that football players form relationships during preseason training, team building is particularly important at the beginning of a project or when a new team member arrives. So instead of just celebrating the completion of a big project, consider hosting a launch event, too.


Social Responsibility

Take a page from the books of professional athletes and make giving back to your community a priority. Whether you take a day to build houses or take an hour to read to children at a local school, volunteering as a team is a great way to get employees to interact outside of the office. It can also make their in-office work more meaningful by showing that their organization values giving back. And employees who find meaning in their work are more engaged.

If the organization where you work supports a specific charity, get involved. If not, let your employees select or vote on where to volunteer. It will make them feel even more engaged with the project.


Physical Interaction

Activities like obstacle courses, paintball, a trampoline park or even playing catch can be fun ways to get your blood pumping, and can also offer a crash course in how their team dynamics work. Teammates get to practice working together and learn about one another’s communication styles.

When selecting a physical team building activity, it’s important to remember that, unlike in sports, work teammates often have varying levels of physical ability and interests. Make sure you don’t inadvertently select an activity that would make some team members feel left out.


Psychological Interaction

The goal of all of these exercises is to build team cohesion by building empathy, and communication skills. Any of these events can incorporate aspects that heighten the psychological bonding that comes with effective team building.  For example, you could ask employees to share stories about positive experiences or lessons they’ve learned at work or at home.

Over time, activities such as these will contribute to a better team dynamic and improved organizational performance. But keep in mind; the best team-building activity for your office is the one that takes into account the unique needs and interests of the group of people that you manage. Try incorporating these ideas into your playbook to inspire your own work team.


Sodexo is committed to improving performance and enhancing quality of life for the individuals, organizations and communities we serve. What team-building activities are you planning this summer?  Share your ideas in the comments.


Mia Mends is CEO, Sodexo Benefits & Rewards Services, USA.

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