Does Team Building Really Work? We Checked Out the Research

Joe Malicdem

Team building is an age-old concept that has been used widely in corporate culture. The idea has also been the butt of jokes in pop culture for years. In one Frazier episode, the two rival brothers are told to try trust falls to repair their relationship. You can guess how successful it was. And in an episode of The Office, coworkers took to the beach, ostensibly for some form of team building, although the real purpose was to discover who would replace Michael at Dunder-Mifflin.

One reason this trope is so broadly used is that it asks us to believe that if we take the workers out of the workplace and put them into another setting, one with creative and sometimes even embarrassing or uncomfortable challenges, the group will result stronger as a whole, ultimately improving the organization’s bottom line. Common examples of team building include:

  • Food-oriented activities
  • Sports or physical activities
  • Some form of volunteerism
  • Outings to museums or sporting events
  • Professional development workshops

But does it work? Would it be easier and more cost-effective to simply encourage flexible hours or breaks supplied with some high-quality gourmet snacks

7 Things Academic Research Shows About Team Building

A HelpScout report recently took a closer look at the results of team building, compiling some of the results they found from various academic sources. Here are some of their findings.

1 Positive Outcomes on Performance When Activities Respect Boundaries

One paper – apparently based on 103 different studies – concluded that team building does have a positive effect on team performance. However, the activities should respect participants’ boundaries and not make them feel uncomfortable. 

2 Caution: There Can Be Negative Emotional Associations with These Events

You might encounter some stigma when first introducing the idea. One report indicated that nearly a third of the office workers who were asked had negative emotional associations with team-building exercises. 

3 Crucial to Make Participants Feel Valued

Other research has shown that the vast majority of workers are most motivated at work when they feel valued. The same should go for any team-building activities.

4 Remote Activities Can Also Be Successful

A time-consuming field trip might not be necessary. As long as they are encouraged to collaborate with one another and are given specific tasks, remote teams can perform just as well as in-person ones. 

5 Consider Having Participants Brainstorm Individually, Not in Groups

Perhaps surprisingly, efforts to get teams to brainstorm don’t produce the amazing results one might expect. The reasons that group brainstorming can stifle creativity are complex. You might need to consider the social dynamics of your specific workers to determine which activity will work best for your people.

6 Include Someone Analytic and Detail-Oriented on Each Team

This tactic can produce better results for the team as a whole.

7 Be Sure to Include Everyone

The last thing you want to do is to make your more introverted workers feel left out. The purpose of team building is to bring out the best in everyone – and help them develop their creative, problem-solving skills.

Nevertheless, there are thousands of teams out there, each one of them unique. These are just some of the findings based on a broad selection of academic research. Don’t let your efforts backfire. The overall message seems to be: if you’re considering some form of team building in your organization, it pays to put a little thought into getting the best possible results. 

Incorporate Delicious, High-Quality Snacks into Any Activities and Events 

Organizational leaders have a lot on their plates, so to speak. Their internal managers and team leaders don’t want to spend time brainstorming plans every time there is a birthday or special occasion that warrants celebrating.

No matter the event or activity, Funky Chunky will help you keep something special in stock – or ready to order – when the need arises. Your best bet is to use sweet and salty goodies that are widely popular such as caramel popcorn and chocolate covered pretzels. Not every organization is the same, but these types of snacks can come in handy on plenty of types of occasions, as long as they’re high-quality and from a trusted provider. 

Contact us to find out more about our products and start your team building today!

Back To All Blog Articles
drink the kool-aid


Sign up for the latest Funky Chunky updates, promotions, and new product releases to receive a 15% off code!