CASE STUDY: Stemcell Brightens Up the Holiday Season for its Cross-Departmental Team with a Virtually-Hosted Team Building Activity

| Case Studies, virtual team building

When Stemcell was looking for a way to celebrate the holidays, lift its team members’ spirits, and help connect cross-departmental teams during the pandemic, they contacted us to help host the perfect team building activity.

THE CHALLENGE – Help team members connect, get in the holiday spirit, and learn more about the business from one another during the midst of a stressful and challenging time.

  • Connect interdepartmental teams for a remote team building activity
  • Help lift team members’ spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Get everyone in the holiday spirit!

As Canada’s largest biotech company, Stemcell’s Customer Service team works hard year-round to manufacture and distribute products for biomedical research.

So, each year, the  department hosts a team building event to help its team members have some fun, share some laughs, and bond in a meaningful way.

“We normally do team building events around the same time each year,” explains Erin Hobson, Associate Director, Global Customer Service Experience at Stemcell. “Our biggest customer base is in the United States and so, for our Vancouver team, these events usually happen on or around American Thanksgiving.  It gives us a nice, quiet window to get together, engage with each other, and typically do some kind of cross-departmentalized sessions to kind of learn the business from other teams and other groups.”

And between the pandemic and the normal holiday-related stresses people experience, Erin knew it was important to ensure the group’s team building activity was uplifting and engaging.

“We were leading up to the holidays,” explains Erin. “So, we thought it would be a nice transition at the end of November to get people into the holiday spirit. I also think the holiday season can be stressful for people for various reasons at the best of times. They often get sick. They often get burnt out. I think people have family pressures or gift-giving pressures and all sorts of things. And then you add the pandemic into the mix this year. So, this was a nice way to kind of transition into holiday mode and help people connect and unwind.”

With an understanding of her goals in mind, Erin reached out to Outback Team Building and Training to explore her options. She was immediately connected with Jordan Menu, her dedicated Employee Engagement Consultant, to start the process of planning her event.

She explains, “My Director had heard about your organization and how successful you’ve been at moving from hosted events to virtual events during the pandemic, so I decided to reach out. And once I spoke with Jordan, I realized that a few other departments at Stemcell had previously worked with Outback.”

THE SOLUTION – A festive, virtually-hosted Holiday Hijinks team building activity for employees from across the company.

  • Enlisted a Virtually-Hosted Holiday Hijinks team building activity
  • Welcomed colleagues from multiple departments to participate

Given Erin’s goals for Stemcell’s team building activity, Holiday Hijinks stood out as the natural choice. And given that the team was working remotely, our virtually-hosted event format made it accessible for everyone—and, most importantly, stress-free for Erin.

“I knew there was the option to do a self-hosted event,” shares Erin. “But we wanted to have you host it because we wanted to have that full event experience. We didn’t want it to be on us to organize it and run it. So, the fact that we could just have your team organize it that took a lot of stress off of our plate.”

Erin is the first to admit that there was some trepidation going into the event. Luckily, it was short-lived.

“I don’t know if people were hesitant, exactly,” explains Erin. “But I think people felt like it was just going to be another virtual event they had to attend when they’ve got work to do and were worried about taking an hour and a half off from their busy day. So, I didn’t get a ton of excitement leading up to the event, even though myself and my Manager were trying to hype it. But then, after the session, quite a few people came to both of us told us how much they enjoyed it—that they really left feeling positive after 90 minutes of being creative, being collaborative, laughing, sharing.”

And as the activity got underway, it wasn’t just the holiday theme that Erin liked about Holiday Hijinks—it was also the fact that the activity engaged team members in more business-focused ways as well.

She explains, “I liked that there was an element of strategy to it and that there was something for everyone. We had team captains, we had a list of questions, and we had a set amount of time. So, we had to be thoughtful. What are we going to focus on? How are we going get the most points? Whose strengths will help us complete which challenges? The responsibility and contribution were evenly shared across each group. It was great.”

When all was said and done, Erin was thrilled with the way her Holiday Hijinks team build activity worked out.

She elaborates, “We just trusted that it was going to go as planned. And it did. We were really happy with it.”

THE RESULTS – Stemcell’s holiday team building activity was stress-free, received great feedback from participants, and led to two referrals.

  • “10/10” feedback from the customer
  • Quantifiable boost in team members’ spirits
  • Two customer referrals to other colleagues

Looking back at her Holiday Hijinks event, the activity helped the Stemcell team to disconnect from work for a brief moment and to simply enjoy each others’ company.

“One of the biggest takeaways for me was that everybody was engaged in the activity,” says Erin. “It allowed us an hour and a half of pure fun and engagement. I didn’t get the sense people were worried about doing other things. They just got immersed into the session together and came out of it feeling happy and positive and fun.”

She adds, “One team member even told me they were officially in the holiday spirit and even went and turned Christmas music on afterward!”

The Holiday Hijinks activity helped to perfectly achieve Erin’s goals for her team building event.

 “What I really liked about Holiday Hijinks was that it provided not only a way to collaborate with each other, but to actually pause and connect and have some fun together,” explains Erin. “Especially this year, we’ve had other types of virtual activities, like happy hours or trivia nights or doing some kind of virtual sessions after work. But with this activity, it was really just a chance to have fun and take a break from the normal kind of meetings and events we typically did and to connect as a team in a new way.”

She adds, “That’s another thing I liked about this activity. I wasn’t expecting it, but the type of questions that were in the sessions encouraged us to open up to each other and share ideas. There were some real positive reinforcement questions throughout the session, too, and positive reinforcement activities too, like writing a nice message to your colleague.”

And the experience of working with Outback helped alleviate a ton of stress from her plate.

“There was no stress and no problems,” says Erin. “The organization and coordination from Outback made it really easy. You guys do a great job.”

In fact, Erin has referred the activity to colleagues at Stemcell and other friends in other lines of business

“I’ve actually referred you guys twice,” she says. “I even referred you to my colleague in Europe, because they were looking for something to do for the customer service team.”

She adds, “I just think our Holiday Hijinks activity left people feeling positive. That was the biggest takeaway I noticed is that we all had a really positive energy afterwards and had a feeling of having just spent a really great hour and a half together.”

Looking for Virtual Team Building Activities to Help Your Team Bond, Unwind, and Have Fun Together?

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