How to Plan a Team Building Activity That Isn’t “Corny”

| Team Building


There is nothing worse than a “corny” team building activity that has everyone rolling their eyes. Check out five ways you can make sure everyone genuinely has fun at your next employee event.

Update: After seeing how popular this news article was in one of our recent newsletters, we decided to create an updated version to offer even more tips on how to plan a team building event that doesn’t…well…suck! We’ve added expert advice from Senior Employee Engagement Consultant, Bryan McWilliams, a podcast episode on the biggest team building mistakes you need to avoid, and more than 1,000 words to help you plan a fun activity your group will actually enjoy.

When team building is corny, employees usually make comments like:

  • “Seriously? This is so silly.”
  • “Why are we wasting our time with this?”
  • “This activity feels so forced.”
  • “What is the point of this?”

…And if they’re making comments like that, it means your team building is not working. How can employees build better relationships if they’re not having a genuinely good time?

The right activity can make all the difference. From wild scavenger hunts in the city, to collaborative escape room experiences – your next event can be fun for your colleagues and impress your bosses at the same time.

Regardless of where you plan to have your event – inside or outside, anywhere across North America – our team can help you find an activity that won’t make your colleagues groan or roll their eyes.

Get your free consultation today to discover which type of team building is right for your group.

Five Things You Can Do to Make Your Team Building Less Corny

There are simple things that anyone can do to make their event less corny. Check out five techniques our team often use to help get groups more excited about team building:

1. Know Your Audience

Every team is different. While one group of employees might enjoy doing something active and outdoors, another group might prefer to stay indoors with a problem-solving activity.

“A lot of planners get super excited, and they jump the gun…and they don’t stop to think, ‘Okay, who are the participants? What is the group dynamic?’” says Bryan McWilliams, Senior Employee Engagement Consultant at Outback Team Building & Training.

If many people on your team are passionate about giving back, for example, you may want to consider a charity-themed activity. Have a group that loves reality TV? Try events like The Amazing Chase or Minute to Win It.

Taking the time to find out what type of activity your group would be interested in can help you pick out something that they’re more likely to enjoy. The more fun they have, the less likely they are to think the challenges are “corny.”

2. Give Your Activity a Purpose

If your team building activity seems like it doesn’t have a purpose, then participants may think it’s a waste of time.

Give your activity a clear goal and communicate that to your team – whether it’s to practice their leadership skills, get them meeting new people, or giving back to a local charity.

If you’ve been asked to plan a team building activity and you’re unsure of the event’s main goal or purpose, Bryan recommends asking your boss a few simple questions.

For example, you can ask:

  • What do we want to get out of the team building activity?
  • Why do you want me to plan a team building event?
  • What is the group dynamic of the participants?

Bryan says that the answers to these key topics can help provide a “guiding principle” for planners, which can help them put together a fun event that resonates with participants.

3. Mix Up the Teams

When employees team build with the same colleagues they usually work with, it can feel like it’s just another day at the office. By mixing up the teams and throwing different types of people together, you can make the activity more interesting and exciting.

By assigning teams before the event, you can ensure that each group includes employees from different departments. However, if you’d prefer to let participants choose their own teams, just make it clear that groups need to be made up of colleagues who don’t normally work together.

New experiences with coworkers who you have only met via email or in passing can help make your team building event that much more memorable.

4. Make It a Friendly Competition & Get People Excited

A lot of groups are naturally competitive, and need some motivation to get them into the team building spirit. A friendly competition between teams is a great way to encourage people to participate…and some small prizes can help motivate everyone too!

You can also help get people excited before the actual event by promoting it internally. Bryan recommends sending out a Save the Date, RSVP email, or calendar invite. These types of communications can help spread the word about the activity, and really ramp up the excitement.

“A lot of these events can be very successful if the planner within the company puts a little bit of extra time to get the participants excited,” says Bryan.

Download The Ultimate Guide to Team Building for access to free planning resources, including email and poster templates.


5. Include Time for Socializing & Feedback

Some of the best team building happens when employees just have time to talk to each other, and get to know each other better. Build in some free time during your team building activity for everyone to socialize, and the whole experience won’t feel as “forced.”

Bryan also suggests leaving some time to check in with your group and collect feedback after the team building activity is over. “Ask the participants what they thought of the activity. What were two or three interesting things they learned about their colleagues and their team?”

In Bryan’s experience, asking employees to reflect on the event can help cement the learning and camaraderie that took place during the activity.

Listen to the below podcast episode of “Outback Team Building & Training Tips” to hear more from Bryan on how to avoid some of the top team building mistakes and put on an event that’s actually fun.


The Results? Genuinely Fun Team Building

Customers continue to tell us that our activities are some of the most fun – and least corny – team building that they’ve ever done.

Check out what a few of them had to say about their experience partnering with Outback Team Building & Training:

The team commented that this was the best team building we have ever done. It was a lot of fun, and kept us active and working together. The team also commented that it wasn’t corny, as some team building exercises can be. We had a blast, and enjoy that we can look at the pictures from the event on your website. Your team was great and very helpful.”— Boyle McCauley Health Centre

The event was very engaging, and not cheesy! The facilitators had everyone involved, which is an awesome accomplishment considering the diverse group attending the meetings. Everyone was very helpful through all phases of the program, from helping select our event, all the way to facilitation of the event during the meetings. Great job!— Charah, Inc.

“The event was very well created, and was very effective in team building without the traditional ‘boringness’ that puts people in uncomfortable positions.— London Life

“Everyone had a blast…the challenges were great…not boring to say the least! We all had a great time! Already recommended to a friend for her company outing next summer. Thanks so much!”— Proteostasis Therapeutics

“We can’t thank you enough for the FANTASTIC event put on by you and your team yesterday. The entire company was raving about how much fun it was for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. I really don’t think anything could have gone any better. Again, thank you very much and I look forward to working with you again!”— Allergan Canada

“It was the best event ever. Lots of incredible smiles and memories. Your team’s customer service quality levels are always exceptional. This was also a unique event created for our team by Outback Team Building & Training, which the team absolutely loved and generated our highest participation levels ever.— Coca-Cola Refreshments

If you want help planning a team building activity that isn’t corny, get in touch with us at 1-800-565-8735, or request a free consultation:


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Taylor Mason
Taylor Mason
3 years ago

Hi Sue — it’s great to hear from you! One of our Employee Engagement Consultants will be in touch shortly.

Sue Le
Sue Le
3 years ago

I’m tasked to organize a team building event in June (mid month) for a group of 40 people within 45 mins drive from the White Oak Resorts (253 Taylor Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0). I need to some ideas.