By: Natalie Topalian NATALIE TOPALIAN TISBITS Aug 17, 2016 5 Benefits of Team Building in the Workplace 1, 2, 3... TEAM! It's that time of year again! Every summer, the TIS group skips out of town for our annual retreat—a fun-filled day (or weekend) spending quality time together outside of the office. Past retreats have taken us to Pentwater and Three Rivers, but this year we're headed up to Bellaire, and to say we're excited is quite the understatement. After last year's retreat, we shared with you the benefits of incorporating play in the work environment—and while our retreats are indeed chalk-full of fun moments, activities and libations, we still make room for some productive time dedicated to team-building. Team-building isn't as bad as it sounds... ...we promise! The mention of "team-building exercises" may induce some eye rolls and huffs and puffs, but team-building exercises don't have to be as icky as they sound. You don't have to resort to the same old games to ignite a stronger bond amongst your team (say 'goodbye' to Two Truths and a Lie!) There are tons of games and exercises out there that will unite your team all while keeping them engaged and most importantly, happy. Because let's be real: if your employees aren't happily participating in team-building time, will it really be that effective? Probably not. If you dedicate a good amount of time and effort into planning a solid team-building session, your team will reap several benefits of learning and understanding more about each other. Wondering what these benefits are? See for yourself below. Team-building exercises... 1. Improve communication When a team comes together outside of the work environment, it gives employees the opportunity to get to know each other better as people, not just as their job title. And when your employees are able to communicate and relate to one another in topics outside of work, they're able to break down walls, trust each other, and collaborate to produce awesome work. 2. Develop leadership skills In most offices, you'll find the same people always speaking up in meetings, brainstorm sessions, and naturally leading the conversation; however, not all employees are natural leaders. Granted, not everyone can be a leader at all times, but it is important for each employee to develop leadership skills because everyone needs to take charge at some point. According to Small Business, team-building exercises often push employees outside of their comfort zones and encourage them to take charge and step up as leaders. This skill can later be applied on team projects and encourage more employees to contribute as leaders. 3. Encourage creativity and innovation Team-building exercises often require employees to think outside the box and use each other's ideas as building blocks for great outcomes. It also taps into the "little kid" side of us. Whether the exercise has you doodling, free writing, or brainstorming up a new planet to every last detail, team-building exercises tap into the creative parts of our brains and allows employees to be innovative together. Even for companies outside of the creative field, applying creativity and innovation in the workplace is known to increase the production of the organization, aid in problem-solving and can be seen as a competitive edge in the industry, as reported by Siyana Sokolova on LinkedIn. 4. Teach conflict resolution skills Even in the best and brightest of work environments, conflicts will undoubtedly arise—it's human nature. When conflicts do come up, the skills gained from participating in team-building activities help employees learn to resolve conflicts in the office without running to management to intervene in the situation. Honing in conflict resolution skills can even help set employees up as potential candidates for management roles later down the road as well, according to Sandler Training. 5. Increase employee engagement Engaging employees outside of the work environment is just as important (if not more) than doing so in the office. When a team spends quality time together outside of the work environment, employees become loyal to both their individual co-workers and the team as a unit. Team-building activities keep employees engaged and allow for more opportunities for recognition, which are both crucial to keeping employees engaged, motivated and performing well. It doesn't have to take an annual retreat to engage employees in team-building activities, but it does take time, effort and planning to ensure these practices are in place for your employees. However you decide to engage your employees and strengthen your team, make it fun, make it unique, and make it fit to what's best for your company.