Are off-site team-building events worth the time and cost?

    Many managers believe that spending a day or two away from the office will re-energize the team and lead to out-of-the-box solutions to business dilemmas.

    But such off-site sessions can be costly and often come with huge expectations. So what do you need to consider before planning your own off-site team-building event? Business Report recently sat down with three local executives—Kristy DeBenedetto Irvine, human resources manager at Methanex; Melinda Stallings, CEO of Melinda Stallings International; and Patricia Mitchen, director of training and development at the LSU Office of Human Resource Management—to get some insight into whether or not these events are worth the time and cost for your business.

    “We view annual team-building events as a small investment with a significant reward,” says Irvine, adding Methanex annually hosts company picnics, crawfish boils, open houses and Christmas parties, as well as community outreach events throughout the year. “The off-site setting also allows for a more relaxed environment, contributing to more creative and ‘out of the box’ thinking, allowing employees to re-energize, focus on team goal realignment, strategize on plans and goals for the year, and bond on a more personal level.”

    Stallings says off-site team building events can be highly cost-effective and advantageous. But, she adds, you should ask yourself a few questions before starting to plan one, such as: What are the biggest team challenges at work? What are the characteristics or behaviors that are manifesting indicating a desire for team building? Also, what is the comfort level of participation for all those involved?

    “The success of the day ultimately depends upon the understanding of the consultant of the goals seeking to be achieved and their ability to debrief each activity in a manner that will bring greater awareness to the organizational team,” she says. “If these conditions are met, an organization can greatly benefit from the camaraderie and less stress of off-site team building.”

    Mitchen says you should also outline what you want to accomplish from a team-building event and why. The answers, she says, will help you plan the most cost-effective and impactful event for your company.

    “Once you’ve defined the objective, design the event around your specific needs,” she says. “Tailor activities to address actual problems or issues the team is facing. Too many employees have suffered through irrelevant activities such as trust falls, weird skits and paintball wars. Make the day fun but relevant.”

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