The Top Trends in Team Building and Training for 2023  

The Top Trends in Team Building and Training for 2023 featured image 1

As the COVID-19 pandemic seems to finally be subsiding, the working world is learning to navigate a professional landscape that looks drastically different than it did in early 2020. The way we work has shifted significantly, and the implications of these changes are only just becoming clear, leaving organizations around the globe to determine the right way forward.   

So, as we do each year, we tapped into our in-house experts to get their insights on what’s stayed consistent from last year, what’s changed, and what’s next in the world of team building and training and development

In this article, you’ll hear from: 

  • Jules Joyce, President at Outback Team Building and Training 
  • Lyndon Friesen, Lead Facilitator at Ignitor Training, skill development coach, and training and development expert at Outback Team Building and Training  
team building with a number of employees sitting in a conference room

In the past few years, the concept of hybrid work has become increasingly prominent, and it—alongside the byproducts it has created—are among the biggest drivers of the team building trends we can expect to see in the coming year.

We spoke with Jules Joyce, President at Outback Team Building and Training, to learn about what she anticipates for 2023.

Here’s what she told us.  

2023 Team Building Trend #1: Hybrid Work Will Be Put to the Test

One of the biggest things I’ve been feeling is that I’m not sure if remote work is as strong as everyone thinks it is.

I suspect that hybrid work will be the most likely long-term outcome.

Organizations are definitely facing a huge challenge when it comes to encouraging teams to go back to work in-person five days per week.

But there are also several challenges for employees with full-time remote work as well—such as isolation and disconnectedness—which can, in turn, cause difficulties for organizations.

I anticipate that we’ll see organizations opting to have employees in the office a few days each week with the rest spent working remotely, and we’ll find out how viable of an option that really is throughout the coming year.

2023 Team Building Trend #2: Resurging In-Person Work Events

employees sitting at an in person team building event together

Based on what we’re seeing at the moment—that organizations are feeling the need to maintain interpersonal bonds between colleagues despite varying work environments—I believe that 2023 will bring with it a supercharged return to in-person work events.

But what may look different now is how organizations manage those events.

While I do believe that larger conferences and leadership retreats will still take place, it seems likely that organizations will focus on doing team building initiatives at individual local offices instead of having all employees travel to a central location.

So, we may see more small-scale in-person team building activities taking place.

Throughout 2022, we saw a significant increase in hybrid activities with organizations looking to engage their groups in different ways, and I think this will continue into the coming year.

2023 Team Building Trend #3: Rebuilding Workplace Culture

One big challenge raring its head right now is the lack of organic connection at work. When people were in the office, these connections were much more prevalent, and organizations are now starting to wonder how they can manufacture these moments.

Ultimately, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep a strong culture at work.

Unlike in past years, there’s now a need for groups to simply socialize versus always needing to have set outcomes from team building. So, a lot of what we’re seeing is organizations simply wanting their team to connect and to see each other in person.

I expect we’ll see an increase in team building activities focused on increasing organic collaboration and socialization within the workplace to compensate for newly dispersed working environments.

2023 Team Building Trend #4: Rethinking Hiring and Onboarding Practices

two women sitting at a desk during a job interview

Hiring managers and human resources departments are now challenged with how to engage and onboard new employees in a world where they no longer sit beside their teammates.

In the past, this process was made easier through casual conversations and questions asked among the team. But now, most of those interactions have to take place via video conferencing or instant messaging platforms. Let’s take LinkedIn. It can be so helpful when you use it with external tools. LinkedHelper can help you automate the hiring process and free your HR managers from repetitive tasks.

There’s no doubt we’ll see an uptick in new and unique ways to onboard new hires using a mix of technology and in-person opportunities.

2023 Team Building Trend #5: Implementing New Workplace Technologies

a number of people stting at a desk with various types of technology

On that note, it’s no secret that technology plays a big and important role in today’s workforce to an extent that simply didn’t exist before.

From a team building perspective, technology has become such a focal point that the capabilities of the technology used for team building activities and how it allows people to connect are equally as important as the content of the team building activity itself.

And more generally, technology has had a huge impact on the way teams interact on a daily basis.

For example, virtual reality and AI are gaining more traction in the workplace as that technology continues to advance.

2023 Team Building Trend #6: Dusting Off Purposeful Communication Skills 

After three years of remote work, many of us have found ourselves unpracticed in communication and interpersonal engagement and have had to dust off old skills as we begin to reconnect in person.

Throughout the pandemic and working in isolation, we’ve built up barriers about people, things, and topics. But when we get together to engage with our workgroups in person, that facetime helps to break down those barriers. 

This year, I believe we’ll see a significant rise in team building activities that focus on rebuilding those valuable communication skills and providing people with that much-needed facetime.

2023 Team Building Trend #7: Reevaluating Productivity Measurements and Trust

three women on a hybrid team working at a desk together

One topic that’s incredibly interesting is how organizations will go about getting people back in the office. People have become so used to working from home that it will be like ripping off a Band-Aid.

And two of the biggest things employers struggle with regarding remote work are accountability and trust—feeling confident that your employees are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, even when they’re not physically visible to you.

But for the return to the office to be successful, this will need to change. It’ll involve shifting measurements of success to be results-oriented rather than evaluated based on how much time someone physically spends at work.

To do so, a level of trust needs to be built, and the tools, technology, and work models that organizations implement need to align with that.

Team building activities will likely be leveraged as a mechanism to build that trust and to help make the pivot toward gauging success by output rather than time in the office.

2023 Team Building Trend #8: Contending with Post-Pandemic Economic Woes

There’s no doubt that post-pandemic economic impacts are being felt today, both in the cost of living as well as in supply and demand, which is impacting how businesses are operating, how much revenue they’re generating, and how they’re utilizing their financial resources.

This means that, while organizations are looking to include everybody in their team building activities, whether they’re working from home or the office, they need to do so on a budget. So, I think it’s safe to say that virtual team building activities will remain popular in the year to come.

a corporate team sitting at a conference room table during a training and development session

Looking ahead to 2023, the varied facets of the employee experience are at the forefront when it comes to training and development trends.

To get a better understanding of what’s in store, we spoke with Lyndon Friesen, Lead Facilitator at Ignitor Training, skill development coach, and training and development expert at Outback Team Building and Training.

This is what he told us.

2023 Training and Development Trend #1: Revisiting Employee Engagement

a happy employee enjoying their workday at their desk

In the modern workforce, organizations are facing this constant threat of losing good people. Employee expectations seem to be higher than ever before in terms of what people want from employers—not just in terms of compensation but also in their work environment and experience.

Employees still have a ton of choices in terms of where they want to work, so employers have to go above and beyond to ensure their expectations are met, so they don’t go elsewhere.

Looking ahead, I anticipate organizations will place significant emphasis and focus on the concept of Stay, Stay, Strive:

  • What do employees say?
  • Do they stay at the organization?
  • Are they giving the best they have? 

And this boils down to:

  • Overall employee engagement
  • Whether employees are champions for the organizations they work for
  • Whether they’re giving their best or only doing what they need to do to meet the minimum requirements of their roles

Organizations will likely start turning to training and development to engage their people in an authentic way—using programs selected based on the results of targeted surveys that solicit employee feedback and put it into action.

2023 Training and Development Trend #2: Prioritizing Compensation Analysis

We’ve seen something pretty startling—and very telling—happening lately: throughout the course of the last seven years, we hadn’t received a single request to conduct a compensation analysis for an organization, and in the last six months of 2022, we received eleven requests.

And that tells me that organizations are really focusing on ensuring they’re compensating their people fairly and will continue to do so in 2023 and beyond.

These analyses look at compensation by industry, geography, and within individual organizations. But it also extends beyond monetary compensation to include benefits packages, vacation allowances, work-from-home policies, and more.

It really encompasses the organization’s entire employee value proposition—ensuring that it’s an enticing place for top talent to work.

The key here is proactivity: if you’re reactive and scrambling when it comes to compensation, it’s too late. You’re already losing people. But if you’re proactive, it’s validating for employees to know that you’re invested in keeping them around and doing your homework to make sure they’re getting what they deserve.

2023 Training and Development #3: Leveraging Third Parties to Build Leadership Development Programs

a woman in front of a whiteboard hosting a leadership develoment program

Another thing we’re seeing a lot of is organizations wanting to outsource leadership development programs to third parties.

Instead of hiring from the outside, organizations are looking inward and are really trying to grow their people into leaders internally.

Often, they’re identifying 10 to 50 people in the company and creating programs that will help mold them into the future leaders of the business.

With retention challenges being so significant these days, this is a key tactic for investing in employees and ensuring they remain with the organization for the long term.

I expect we’ll continue to see this happening for the foreseeable future.

2023 Training and Development #4: Changing Approaches to Strategic Planning

a corporate leadership team during their annual planning session

Organizations are drastically changing the way they approach their strategic planning. In past, organizations would build five, seven, or ten-year plans.

But now, we’re seeing that organizations are pivoting toward one or two-year plans.

Rather than looking a decade into the future, they want to create a plan that’s dynamic and easy to change rather than investing in a five-year plan that’s outdated 18 months later.

And there are a number of factors in this equation:

  • Organizations are gaining insights faster in terms of what their customers want or don’t want, and the expectation to take action is higher than ever
  • Competitors are constantly trying to leapfrog one another as far as what they offer to customers
  • The markets are changing so fast – so to put a plan in place for 3, 4, 5 years, there used to be a lot of stability in what you’d offer, what people demanded, what employees want to give – it doesn’t work like that anything – so it’s a waste of time

Shorter-term strategic planning involves defining mission, vision, purpose, and values, and then communicating them throughout the organization via strategic planning software.

Dynamic planning typically involves:

  • Overarching mission, vision, and values
  • Strategic sub-pillars (like a statement around where the organization wants to allocate its energy and resources)
  • Goals
  • Milestones (such as steps that need to be taken to achieve the goal)

Within these strategic plans, core focuses generally include:

  • People and engagement
  • Finances
  • Marketing
  • Operations (in other words, what do you have to do to live up to our strategic pillars?)

I expect that we’ll see more organizations moving to this dynamic planning model rather than the typical long-term planning that’s historically been the norm.

Have you seen these trends impacting your industry? If so, what steps are you taking to address them? Let us know in the comments section.

Learn more about what’s new in 2023. 

If you’ve got questions about how you can use team building and training and development programs to equip your team and your organization for success in 2023, reach out to an Employee Engagement Consultant.   


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