Team Building Cost Myths Debunked: 12 Ways to Do It on Any Budget

The cost of team building has long been misconstrued as expensive or unaffordable. While many organizations believe it has to be a high-priced endeavor, that’s far from true. Team building can be done on almost any budget.

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The cost of team building has long been misconstrued as expensive or unaffordable. While many organizations believe it has to be a high-priced endeavor, that’s far from true. Team building can be done on almost any budget.

It’s a long-standing myth that the cost of team building is an astronomical figure. And this misconception about price might be costing businesses more than money. 


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It’s no secret that engaged employees offer big benefits to organizations. Team members who are actively engaged in their role, their work, and, in turn, your business, are more likely to remain with the company for the long-term and deliver top-quality results.  

But as the modern workforce changes, including a shift towards more remote employees and the “always-on” pressure created by improving technology, employee engagement is more important than ever. According to Forbes, 90% of leaders think an engagement strategy is important for business success. And team building is a vital component in creating employee engagement. It helps to build trust, mitigate conflict, encourage communication, and increase collaboration. But don’t just take our word for it – even NASA puts a significant focus on creating aligned teams (check out our blog post to learn more). 

There’s just one problem: that same Forbes research showed that only 25% of leaders actually have an engagement strategy. And, as our CEO, Murray Seward, pointed out in his recent predictions about 2020 team building trends, companies are beginning to be more vigilant about their budgets. And one of the first things we may see take a hit? Investments in team building and the benefits it brings to employee engagement levels. 

But here’s the good news: team building, and all its benefits, don’t have to be expensive and elaborate. They can be achieved on almost any budget. 

Here’s how you can do it. 

Team Building Activities that Cost Under $25 Per Person (Or Are Free!)

As myth would have it, team building activities have to be expensive, involved, full-day outings. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a ton of easy, low-cost activities you can do right in your workspace. Here are six examples: 

  1. Office Potluck – When you think of team building, your first thought may be something structured and formalized. But it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, the best team building comes from simply gathering your team and helping them get to know each other better by doing something unrelated to work. An office potluck is a great option. Invite each person to bring one dish and then let everyone enjoy a meal together. It’s wise to circulate a sign-up sheet where everyone notes what they’ll be bringing to make sure there’s some variety. 

  2. Egg Drop Challenge  If you’re looking for something that will encourage creativity and collaboration, go with a classic team building activity – the Egg Drop Challenge. With this activity, your group will break into teams to create structures that protect an uncooked egg from a fall using only a predetermined selection of materials. These can be anything, from toilet paper rolls and tape to sponges, newspaper, cardboard, string, straws, even packing peanuts. The height you choose to drop the egg from is completely up to you. 

  3. Do Good in the Community – Getting out and giving back has been proven to make people happier, so what better way to build a stronger team than by doing it together? Whether it’s fundraising for a cause, volunteering in the community, or even donating blood, the opportunities are endless. At Outback Team Building Training, our employees get an annual volunteer day which can be used to take a day off work to support a pre-approved cause or organization. For more group volunteer ideas, check out our blog post: 15 Creative Volunteer Ideas to Help Your Team Make a Difference. 

  4. Encourage Employee Clubs – Team building doesn’t always have to be facilitated by leadership. Instead, you can encourage your employees to create their own staff-led groups and gatherings, like a book club or a run club. All you need to do is approve the time they need to do it at work – even if it’s 30 minutes per week.  

  5. Two Truths and a Lie – Employees often work together for long periods of time but never truly get to know each other in a personal capacity. But knowing somebody on a deeper level can help create strong bonds that inspire even better work. So, a game like Two Truths and a Lie can be a fun way to help people learn more about each other. With this icebreaker game, you’ll divide your team into groups. Each person will introduce themselves and then share three facts you might not know about them. The catch? Two will be true and one will be a lie. It will then be up to the rest of the group to decide which is which. Once each person has gone, you can rotate groups, so everyone can engage with one another.  

  6. Self-Hosted Team Building Activities – If you’re looking for something structured but don’t have a big budget, Outback Team Building Training offers self-hosted and virtually hosted team building activities that you can do for as little as $11 per person. These smartphone app-based team building activities can be done anytime, anywhere, with little to no equipment required. You might like:  
     
    • Game Show Extravaganza – What’s more fun than testing your knowledge and wits with a game of trivia? In this activity, your staff will split into teams. Then, they’ll participate in five rounds of brain-boggling photo and trivia-based challenges covering topics ranging from pop culture to politics, geography, history, and more, earning points for each challenge they complete correctly.  

    • Team Pursuit – Does your group have what it takes to be crowned Team Pursuit champions? If they want to secure the title, they’ll need to work closely and collaboratively to correctly tackle an array of engaging and high-energy mental, physical, skill, and mystery challenges.  

    • Wild Goose Chase – With our popular scavenger hunt activity, your team will get out and explore your city like never before. Together, they’ll have to scour the city, engage with the public, and complete photo and video challenges to earn as many points as possible before time runs out. 

    We recently helped our customer, DemandJump, put on a virtually hosted Wild Goose Chase that helped remote employees and colleagues from different departments build a stronger rapport. Read our case study, How DemandJump Broke Down Interdepartmental Barriers with its First Ever Team Building Event, to learn more about how it all came together and how the results benefited the employees and the organization. 

Team Building Activities You Can Do for Between $25 and $100 Per Person

Great team building activities can also include getting your group out of the office for a quick activity or hosting one in your own space. If you’re looking to do a team building activity that’s a bit more elaborate but that can be done on a moderate budget, here are three ideas you can consider: 

  1. Laser Tag – It’s always great to get your employees out of the office to do something fun together. And what’s more fun than a game of laser tag? Split your group up into teams and let them compete in a high-energy laser battle. You can even provide rewards for the winning team.  

  2. Bowling  Getting colleagues together to go bowling is a fun and cost-effective team building idea. Whether you’re a group full of pros or you’ve never played before, it’s a guaranteed good time. It doesn’t matter if you’re bowling strikes, spares, or gutter balls. What counts is the time your team gets to spend engaging with one another. 

  3. Hosted Team Building Events  If you’re looking for an awesome and professional team building activity that doesn’t require you to spend money on renting a venue, Outback Team Building & Training offers some awesome options. In fact, for the financial commitment as what Dave and Buster’s team building costs, you can get a bespoke solution tailored to your goals. And with these activities, you’ll get your very own event host and set-up, without all the added overheads. Some of our most popular activities include:  
     
    • Minute To Win It – Based on the hit TV show, this activity, which can be done in a large boardroom or open concept office, has your group split into teams to compete in a series of 60-second game show-style challenges. For each completed task, teams will earn points. Whichever team has the most points once time expires is the winner! Best of all, this activity will help colleagues burn off steam, bond, collaborate, and communicate as they cheer each other on.  

    • Corporate Escape Rooms – We know what you’re thinking. Escape rooms are insanely expensive. And in most cases, you’d be right. But Outback helps you cut back on costs while having the same great time by transforming your boardroom or office space into your very own escape room. And with two different experiences available, you’ll be able to pick your own adventure for your team to find their way out of.  

    • Code Break – All you’ll need is some creative thinking, problem-solving skills, and a little bit of cleverness for Code Break. With this team building activity, your group will need to put their heads together to solve a variety of challenging brainteasers, puzzles, riddles, and trivia. But don’t worry – you’ll have the support of one of our team members in case a hint or two are needed! 

    • Picnic Party Games – If you want to get out of the office but don’t have a big budget for a venue rental, then heading out to a park is a great option. You can either just host a good old-fashioned picnic, or you can up the ante with Picnic Party Games. In this activity, your group will compete in a ton of fun outdoor games – as teams, in pairs, or as individuals. It’s an awesome way to get some fresh air and work up an appetite.  

Team Building Options for $100 Per Person or More

If you’re looking to make a big splash and host an extravagant team building activity that gets your group out of the office for a half day, a full day, or even multiple days, you’ve got plenty of options available to you. The team building activities that end up being the costliest typically involve booking venues or activities and getting your entire team off-site. Here are three options you can consider:  

  1. Hiring a Motivational Speaker – There are few things better for rallying the troops and getting your team inspired than hiring a motivational speaker to come share some insight and expertise. Speakers can range vastly in cost so it’s important to do your homework. For instance, having a consultant come speak with your team about the value of mindfulness will be less expensive than having a professional speaker give a keynote address. But whoever you choose, having an external person impart some wisdom can be great for your team. To learn more about how to choose the right speaker for your event, check out our blog post: 10 Considerations for Picking the Perfect Keynote Speaker for Your Next Corporate Event 

  2. Premium Hosted Team Building Events – If you have a higher budget available to you – between $100 and $300 per person, for instance – there are a ton of great team building activities you can do. These events are highly involved and include full facilitation, equipment, and materials. For these activities, you’ll likely want to rent out an event space or conference room (for more on how to make this process easy, check out this post). Many of our premium hosted team building activities also have a charitable component. And, if you have something specific in mind, our Employee Engagement Consultants can help create a custom event, tailored specifically for your needs. Some of our most popular premium hosted events are: 
     
    • Charity Bike Buildathon – If you’re looking for a team building activity that offers up funbonding opportunities, as well as valuable business lessons, you’ll love Charity Bike BuildathonWith this activity, your group will give back to those in need while sharpening their business skills as the same time. Together, they’ll build and decorate bicycles to give to a local children’s charity. But before they donate them, they’ll need to develop and present an advertising campaign to the rest of the group. 

    • Wheelchairs For Charity - In this fun, high-energy, and engaging team building activity, your group will come together to build, test, and donate wheelchairs to a charity of your choice. And in doing so, you’ll be able to do something good for those in need while creating lasting memories together, strengthening communication skills, and building your emotional intelligence. 

    • School Supply Scramble – Every child deserves a good education. That’s why School Supply Scramble focuses on providing underprivileged kids with the tools they need to succeed in school. Together, your team will compete in a series of education-themed challenges to collect backpacks and school supplies, which they’ll donate to a children’s charity. 

    If you’d like to see a premium team building event in action, check out our case study, How Kickstart Seed Fund Engaged 110 CEOs with the Right Team Building Event. In it, we discuss why a Charity Bike Buildathon was the perfect activity to help build bonds and stimulate communication between high-level executives who had never met one another.  

  3. Corporate Retreats – There are few things better for team building and employee morale and engagement than a company getaway. These (often multiday) getaways allow your team to meet up somewhere new and exciting to regroup, recharge, and discuss what’s happening in your business. Whether it’s a team building retreat, a corporate and business retreat, or an executive, leadership, and management retreat, many companies do these on an annual basis as something for their staff to look forward to. We put together free eBook that gives more insight into company retreats. And if you’re ready to book one, you might also like this blog post that looks at the top destinations in North America to host them.  

So, while there might be a misconception that team building has to be an expensive undertaking, it’s time for that myth to be debunked. The truth is that it can be done on almost any budget. And it brings important benefits to employees, teams, and organizations. Whether you’ve got no money for team building, a little bit, or a lot, you can do something impactful for your employees in a time when it’s more valuable than ever. 

What do you do at your company to support employee engagement? Let us know in the comments section below. 




Learn More About Team Building Activities for Every Budget 

For more information about team building, training and development, and coaching and consulting solutions that can be done on any budget, just reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants. 

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