Would your employees cringe if you told them a coffee shop team building exercise was in their future?
Remember that game, “Pass the Orange”? The embarrassing one where you use your neck and chin to pass an orange to a friend, relay-race style? Employees can feel like 11-year-olds at summer camp when coerced into shenanigans like this. A recent Wakefield Research study found that almost a third of U.S. office workers dislike team building activities. That likely goes for hourly restaurant and café workers, too.
You can reduce cynicism around coffee shop team building by doing it in ways that fit your business culture, by incorporating activities employees want to do:
1. Professional Development. Have your team participate in a seminar together, online or in person. Invite outside professionals (coffee roasters, mixologists and the like) to present their expertise at company meetings, where activities like making drinks or guessing roast profiles are encouraged. Your employees get to learn something that sparks creativity and makes them better at their jobs, while bonding.
2. Volunteer. It gives people a sense of purpose beyond their everyday jobs. Invite employees to volunteer with you for a cause you believe in—one that’s not too politically charged. Maybe it’s the local food bank, a park cleanup event, or adopting a family in need for the holidays.
3. Throw the ball around. It turns out the old office-softball-team cliché is worth another look. Giving employees a shared goal outside of work can help them get to know each other in new ways, and build respect and appreciation for each other. Try not to get involved in a hyper-competitive league, be it kickball or even darts. At the amateur level, it really is “just a game,” and getting grumpy over city-league standings is the natural opposite of team building. If a weekly sports-team event is too much commitment, try a putt-putt golf outing, a snowman-building contest (if you live in a place where winter provides said building material), or an occasional game of Frisbee golf.
As always, encourage feedback and input from your staff. Who knows, they may be dying to bring in a projector and hang a sheet on the wall of the shop for movie night. You just have to ask them what team building looks like to them.