Thursday, November 3, 2016

Corporate Wellness and Team Building

Corporate Wellness is a buzz word right now and you might be wondering 'what is it, and how is it different to team building?'

The term 'Corporate Wellness' is incredibly broad and can include health screening, massages, Bootcamp programs, meditation and healthy snacks in the work vending machine. Corporate Wellness programs are designed to improved the health, fitness and morale of participants. Programs could be a 12 week challenge or might involve fun days that might involve learning circus skills, cooking workshops or a Big Day Out with silly and fun competitive challenges. There is not much difference between a Corporate Wellness day or a Team Building day. In fact they might be considered the same thing.

Team building sessions and programs are designed to improve the interpersonal relationships and communication skills of participants. Better relationships and increased communication leads to higher levels of productivity. As team building sessions are designed to be fun, engaging and memorable there is an added benefit of enjoyment, improved morale and an enhanced work environment. Staff feel rewarded, valued and a sense of belonging.

One of our most popular team building sessions is conducted in the Point Nepean National park.  It involves teams collaborating to solve a complex puzzle. Whilst improving communication is a key focus, the group are required to walk in a spectacular location, spend time with their colleagues and enjoy healthy snacks. The session could easily be considered as Corporate Wellness as it involves exercise, fresh air, enjoyment and teamwork.

Corporate Wellness Days and Team Building days should result in a happier, healthier and more engaged workforce that feel rewarded with a sense of community and belonging. Is there a difference, I don't think so.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ways To Encourage Unity In Your Company

Team-building is a fantastic way to get employees and team members to bond. As we’ve covered before, having a well-bonded team which works well together is essential to getting great business results. And the best way to kick-start this is to do some intensive team building. A team building course can help your employees get to know each other, to intuitively understand one another’s strengths and weaknesses, to like and respect one another. However, team building doesn’t have to end once the course is over. If you want to preserve and enhance team unity, here are a few ideas you can try on a more day-to-day basis:
Watch Out For Problems

One of the best ways that you can preserve team unity is to keep an eye out for developing issues. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be constantly scrutinizing and questioning your team - simply that you should make an effort to involve yourself in your team’s dynamic and culture. The more immersed in your team’s dynamic you are, the more you’ll be aware of anything which is throwing that dynamic off. And spotting problems early is half the battle in solving them.

Create A Supportive Environment

If you want a happy, unified team, you need to make people feel that they’ll be listened to and aided when they are experiencing tough times. Rather than penalizing people for things like the occasional off day, let them know that you understand that they’re human, and that they can turn to their team members for help if needed. People who feel under pressure to hide ‘weaknesses’ from their colleagues suffer far more from workplace related stress than others - and that in turn leads to a pronounced drop in happiness, motivation, and (ultimately) productivity. While some problems - substance abuse, for example - may need a certain amount of outside therapy, and may require an absence from work, for many problems, providing a supportive environment in which people do not feel judged or afraid for their jobs when going through hard times will pay dividends in team unity and workplace satisfaction.

Don’t Stamp On Respectful Dissent

If you have a workplace situation in which one person (or a group of people) come up with all the suggestions, and nobody else says anything, it might be time to have a look at why this is occurring. Rather than assuming that the ‘ideas people’ are simply the best and brightest you have, take a peek at how dissent and differing voices are dealt with in discussions. Often, people simply stop speaking up when the strongest voices in the group shout them down should they offer a differing opinion. Not only does this prevent all relevant viewpoints from being heard, it also deals a heavy blow to team unity - fostering resentment and feelings of inferiority. Make sure that people feel able to respectfully put forward dissenting opinions during discussion, and that all of your employees are using good listening skills as much as they possibly can.

Ensure Clarity

Nobody likes to spend their work hours hovering around either with nothing to do, or unsure of what they should be doing. Once you’ve begun a project, ensure that everyone is aligned, is happy with what you’re doing, and is happy with their own role in this. Once everyone knows what they’re doing, they’ll feel a certain amount of control, and confidence. Not knowing what you’re doing, or what your role is, creates insecurity. Insecurity creates anxiety, which creates stress, which creates irritability, which creates disharmony within the team dynamic. Not to mention frustration on the part of those who think that others should be doing something they’re not. Clarity is a seriously important part of any workplace dynamic - and one which is too often neglected by employers!

Don’t Be Distant

One of the best things about a good team is that people will feel confident and able to get on with their jobs relying on the support of their team members, without constant recourse to management. However, management support is always needed as a fallback. Even if you never actually have to step in, knowing that you’re involved and available will really help to foster confidence. This is particularly true if you take the time to make each team member feel welcome, appreciated, and as though they belong. So don’t be aloof - involve yourself!

by Emma Crosby

Monday, October 17, 2016

Team Building Success - Is it Necessary?

Team building activities should be fun and everybody wants to be successful but what happens when a team fails?

One of the most enjoyable aspects of running experiential team building games and simulations is their unpredictability. Anything can happen. In most cases, there is success, triumph and lots of woohoos but what happens when it all goes wrong?




On one level it is a little disappointing however it provides a unique opportunity for reflection and learning.  The debrief for the activity allows for discussion and analysis about what happened or what should have happened.

About ten years ago I remember running a construction activity with a group where nothing fitted together. The groups had not communicated their design and they had not double checked their measurements. Our debrief was in the form of a Royal Commission into what went wrong. It seems the errors that were made during the activity were the same ones that were occurring at work. Teams were located on different levels of their building and they would not clarify their communication so mistakes were being made. The activity highlighted the importance of effective and frequent communication. Teams acknowledged their need to make the effort to double check their message has been received and understood. Whilst it may take time to meet, plan and discuss, it inevitability leads to a better result.

The team building experiential allows for mistakes to be made without the financial consequences that might happen if mistakes were made at work. Teams can improve their teamwork in a safe environment in a short amount of time. So whilst everyone loves success, sometimes a failure in a team building activity might result in success back at work.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Seven Elements of an Awesome Team Building Activity

The ACE Escape is one of our most popular team building sessions and in this post we try to understand what are the essential elements of an awesome team building activity.

1. A Simple Premise
The goal of the activity is easy to understand and straightforward. Open the locked safe.
There are lots of unique props that add to the appeal and intrigue yet the goal is clear and simple.


2. Physically Inclusive and Non Weather Dependent
Every person should be able to participate regardless of their physical limitations or fitness levels. Whilst the ACE Escape is a mental challenge involving many activities each one is not physically demanding. The entire activity can be conducted at a table or on the floor.


3. Engaging and Fun
Everyone should be involved throughout the exercise and their combined contributions are essential for completing the task. The ACE Escape involves a multitude of puzzles and code breaking so that individuals are consumed in a task yet they must pass on their findings for the activity to progress.


4. Venue Friendly
Some activities require large outdoor areas or purpose built facilities. One of the great strengths of the ACE Escape is its portability and minimal room requirements. It can be conducted in virtually any room.


5. Level of Challenge
The task needs to have the appropriate level of difficulty to challenge the group. Everyone enjoys success but if it comes too easily or quickly it is not appreciated. The rate of success should ebb and flow so that the group encounters bursts of productivity interspersed with periods of inaction. During the ACE Escape the best teamwork seems to occur when the group have hit a roadblock. In many cases, the group are able to find a solution once everyone shares their individual problems.



6. Competitive and Collaborative
People enjoy competition yet a team building activity should be collaborative. The ACE Escape involves the team working collaboratively to achieve the most competitive time possible.


7. A Finale
The activity should have a natural conclusion that is exciting and brings together all the contributions of the team members. The finale of the ACE Escape involves the opening of the digital safe yet the emotional high happens just beforehand when the group know they have the answer.



Sunday, September 18, 2016

Pokemon Go - possibly the best game in the history of the world

When the News reported the frenzy created by Pokemon Go, I was sceptical about its merits. Stories of people causing accidents whilst driving and thousands of computer geeks mobbing religious monuments made me reluctant to become one of the players.

My opinion of the game changed when my son asked me to go for a walk with him. He only needed to walk another 300 metres to hatch his egg. I did not know what this meant, but I like going for walks. I loaded the game onto my smartphone as he guaranteed me that we would find something. Two hours later and I was hooked. We explored our neighbourhood and had a blast. I think the dog enjoyed it too.

For more than twenty years I have designed treasure hunts and navigational activities for corporate groups. I have spent many days photographing landmarks and exploring areas to be used for specific events. I have an appreciation of the difficulty in creating an activity that rewards success in such a way that you want to keep playing.  It can take two or more days to design a small race for a country town or CBD. I hate to think how long it would have taken to create this game.

It encourages physical  activity
The game is designed so that you want to go walking and exploring. The further you walk, the more Pokemon you will find. But you must also walk to Pokestops to collect more Poke balls that are essential for catching Pokemon. It was quite amazing to see the hundreds of people in our local park playing the game. My fitness watch is meant to motivate me to walk however the lure of virtual creatures is much more effective.

It is free
The activity can be played for hours in almost any populated area of park. I would be quite happy to pay for the pleasure of playing the game (don't tell Nintendo). The only cost is the data required to access the app. People can make in-app purchases but it is not necessary provided that you are willing to do some walking.

It is social
It can be played solo or in a group. It is non-competitive in the sense that when a Pokemon appears, it is accessible by all players. However, there is a competitive element when fighting for control of a gym. One afternoon, I was staggered to see the number of tradespeople playing the game.


It is well designed and fun
The game is quite sophisticated and incorporates GPS with augmented reality. The graphics are cute and playful and there are lots of random surprises when Pokemon appear and vanish.

The scale is mind boggling
It is difficult to comprehend the sheer number of landmarks, parks, shopping centres, beaches and places of interest that have been incorporated into the game, for just one small city. But when you think that that the game can be conducted across multiple countries it is like trying to understand how many stars are in the night sky.

It is unfortunate there have been some unpleasant incidents but this is not surprising considering the number of people are playing the game. I don't think Pokemon Go will be a lasting phenomenon but at this point in time, I honestly think it is the best game in the world. If you have been reluctant to try it, give it a go, it is a lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The ACE Escape - a strategic and collaborative team building game




 Impactful and effective team building activities are real.
They provide an opportunity for teams to practice teamwork by harnessing their individual skills and talents to complete the task.

A perfect activity matches the degree of difficulty with the capability of the group...too easy and it is boring, too difficult and it is frustrating.

Ideally, the task should be complex, multi faceted and cumulative so that information or successes achieved during the activity are required throughout the exercise.

The ACE Escape is our newest team activity and it is ideal for small groups that wish to practice collaboration, problem solving and effective communication.

Teams need to split the problem into individual tasks but keep each other updated as new information is revealed.  A clue in isolation has no value however when it is combined with other facts a breakthrough may occur.



The game is intense, enjoyable and provides a great opportunity for teams to work together on a complex problem that has time pressure and many unknowns. It provides an opportunity for a meaningful debrief about the way the group worked together, what they did well and how they can improve.


There is no such thing as a perfect team building activity however the ACE Escape is ideal for small groups wanting to practice their teamwork skills. The game is portable, non-weather dependent and not physically demanding. Most importantly, it is engaging and fun.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Team building and life skills for children


What was your most significant and transformational learning experience at school? Was it music, PE, science or French? In Dead Poets Society the teacher inspires his students through the teaching of poetry. At Mt Eliza Primary, the students are extremely fortunate to be involved in a life changing program called Kitchen Garden. It is amazing for a variety of reasons:

1. Children learn life skills
Children learn how to cook which is an important skill they will have for the rest of their lives. As an adult I have a small repertoire of meals that I prepare at home on a rotational basis.  However since becoming a parent helper the menu of meals that I regularly cook has dramatically increased. The children are very lucky to be introduced to a wide variety of healthy meals from all over the world. As a helper I have learned how to make fresh pasta with a pasta maker. I have also learned to make Japanese pancakes, Greek spanokopita, Thai curries, pumpkin bread, beetroot brownies and an amazing pasta sauce with roast cauliflower, pumpkin and basil.


2. Children learn to try new food
How do you get children to eat more vegetables? As a parent, I have had limited success getting my children to consume healthy foods at home. Yet every week during the Kitchen Garden program I am stunned as children devour the food that has been prepared. Children are encouraged to sample all the food and they are frequently delighted when they discover that fresh vegetables can be delicious. It’s hard trying to get your children to eat cabbage at home but when it is an ingredient in Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) there are no leftovers.  Food comprising silver beet, zucchini, pumpkin, cabbage and cauliflower are happily eaten.

3. Children learn to follow instructions
A kitchen is a dangerous place with many hazards so there is a huge focus on safety.  I would have thought that the meals would be simple and kid friendly but this is not the case.  The instructions involve many steps, lots of ingredients and the use of large knives. The children are taught how to do things correctly and they are closely supervised to prevent accidents. The meals are delicious and restaurant quality. A typical meal might be a rice salad with a lentil curry and Naan bread and a raspberry macaroon for dessert.

4. Parents learn too
At our home there has been a transformation. My child volunteers to help in the kitchen. Last week he helped cut up all the vegetables and then helped make fresh pasta. I then watched him eat all his dinner and then help with the washing up. Why do I love kitchen garden? I feel like our lives have changed for the better.  Spending time in the kitchen no longer feels like a chore. We are spending more time shopping for fresh ingredients and more time preparing food but it is worth it. We are making delicious fresh meals and the kids are eating healthy food.

5. Personal Development
The children are empowered, enthusiastic and fully engaged. They want to help with every task whether it is cutting vegetables, stirring a curry or kneading bread dough. Children learn teamwork, collaboration and the importance of each person's contribution to the greater good. Four work groups prepare a meal course that comes together for a finale that is a delicious group feast.
Children volunteer to stay back during recess and help with the washing up in the hope that they may be given an extra serve of dessert.

6. It’s fun
All the children are engaged in the session and share in the triumphs created. It is a sensory delight with fragrant herbs, exotic spices and the hustle and energy of a commercial kitchen.

The Kitchen Garden program helps to develop students' self confidence in a fun and dynamic environment. I have no doubt that when students reflect on their experience at school they will appreciate how lucky they were to be part of such an excellent and worthwhile program.