Working with the same team day in and day out can get routine. But mixing up your office dynamic doesn’t have to involve lengthy team offsites or huge budgets. Sometimes the simplest activities can make the biggest impact on colleague engagement. Here are 5 low-cost ideas proven to liven things up while strengthening bonds between coworkers.
1. Start a Book Club
Starting a book club among employees is really simple. First, choose titles that will appeal to a wide range of coworkers to encourage participation. Bestsellers, classics and award winners often work well. You can let people input their ideas on a Word Cloud and save it as the official group’s wallpaper.
Then, decide on a regular meeting schedule, like the last Friday of each month or every 6 weeks. Lunch-hour book clubs are convenient.
Create your group on a Slack channel or Telegram, whichever is convenient for everyone. Book clubs not only engage coworkers intellectually but also bond over shared stories and discovery of each other’s perspectives.
2. Organize Game Tournaments
Set up friendly competitions in pool, ping pong, or air hockey! Surveys show employees value employers that cater to the “whole” person, not just work skills. Tournaments satisfy humanity’s inherent desire for playfulness and sport.
Set a sign-up deadline and draw brackets to determine matchups, then block midday or lunch hours 1-2 times per week over several weeks for rounds.
Award silly prizes like trophies, snack baskets, or certificates to acknowledge winners’ skills. Organized play builds rapport through shared adrenaline and some friendly teasing among teammates.
3. Plan Regular Potlucks
Potlucks reveal personal sides through comfort foods and conversations about cooking passions at home. You can set a schedule like the last Friday of every month and rotate cooking responsibilities.
Encourage everyone to bring a variety of homemade dishes from different cultures/cuisines to expose colleagues to new flavors. Create signups on a collaborative document so people don’t duplicate dishes. It’s more fun with options.
After eating, ask trivia questions about who made what to get to know culinary talents. Finding common ground outside work deepens understanding between colleagues.
4. Start a walking club
If your colleagues are outdoor peeps, walking activities could really make their days while improving office wellness. First, survey their interests to find time most people can commit to, then designate safe, interesting walking routes of 30-60 minutes. Make sure to pair walks with open-ended discussion topics beyond work like books, travel, and families.
Track steps with a fitness app and reward the most improved or highest step counts monthly with small prizes to gamify it.
Fresh air and casual exercise counter sedentary workdays while walk-and-talks allow connections in a low-pressure way conducive to bigger-picture thinking.
5. Host Secret Santa or White Elephant
Holiday spirit and friendly hijinks bring warmth during colder months. Those who don’t celebrate still gain from team bonding over treating each other.
Set a modest spending limit ($10-20 range) to make it accessible for all budgets. Encourage playful or punny gifts, like funny mugs, or novelty stocking stuffers.
Schedule the reveal party a few weeks before the holidays for maximum anticipation. A few good laughs wouldn’t hurt anyone!
Tips: Find an activity with low barriers to participation. Small steps go far in engagement when colleagues connect as whole human beings.