Team-building activities are used by businesses of all sizes to boost employee morale, help co-workers get to know each other better and foster cooperation. When planned and executed well, they can be very effective; done poorly, they become a waste of time and a source of annoyance to participants. Here are five ways to improve team-building events that can make them both more effective and more fun.

1. Align Activities with Goals
If one of the challenges your team faces is poor communication, then taking everyone out to a movie that they sit and watch in silence makes no sense. Choose activities that encourage interaction and teamwork instead, like spotting each other at a climbing gym or playing out a survival scenario.

2. Forget Competition
Pitting team members against each other, even in the friendliest of competitions, is counter-productive. It can build resentment or ill will, or leave employees who perform poorly feeling embarrassed or ostracized. Choose activities that the whole team can enjoy together to foster a true atmosphere of teamwork.

3. Sneak in Some Productivity
Nowhere is it written in stone that team-building activities must include icebreaker games like charades or non-business related activities like bowling. Asking employees to take a break from their regular roles to brainstorm ideas for new advertising campaigns or potential products and services not only encourages teammates to communicate and work together in new ways, it also sparks creativity. Some great new ideas just might emerge from such a session.

4. Create Custom Apparel
There’s a reason that sports teams dress alike. Uniform apparel reinforces the idea of team unity. Gifting employees with custom apparel is a great way to boost morale and remind everyone that they’re all part of the same team. Make it something fun and flattering that everyone will want to wear, and then institute a company-apparel day each month so everyone can show off their custom company gear at the office.

5. Host Regular Events
Let’s face it: Organizing one team-building event per year isn’t going to have a far-reaching impact on your staff. Team-building events should take place regularly. A team-building event doesn’t have to be a costly, off-site outing. Even playing a communication or problem-solving game to kick off a staff meeting once in a while can do the trick.

When planning your next team-building activity, remember to keep your team’s particular challenges in mind as you plan. Organize activities that help your staff overcome those challenges, and keep the atmosphere light and uncompetitive. Tap into your team’s ability to take on new business challenges and encourage them to show their team spirit with custom apparel on a regular basis.

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