For decades now managers have been challenged on how to build team cohesion and group unity, and not just around work issues but social issues in the workplace as well. Gone are the days when ruthless competition and pitting team members against each other was a methodology for motivation. “Purposeful Collaboration” is what is working in today’s world.

Today’s business leaders utilize many methods and activities to achieve group unity. If you’re looking to foster unity within a workplace or a school setting, here’s what’s working:

“One of the most effective ways to build your team up is through purposeful collaboration,” says career and life coach
Kyle Elliott, ” Each week, a team member kicked off our weekly staff meeting by teaching fellow colleagues how to do something. This could be how to dance Salsa, repotting a plant, scarf tying, you name it.”

Purposeful collaboration isn’t just in-office activities, however, one of the most effective methods of building group unity are travel and outdoor activities. Such as the one offered by pro snowboarder Blake Tholen Clark who provides both companies and schools the opportunity to learn how to snowboard as a group, either in person in Utah or via the cloud (yes, that’s a thing – technology is amazing) from . Clark’s reviews show that when put through a fun and challenging outdoor adventure such as learning how to snowboard together, the feelings of team unity tend to last.

A recent study done last year found that:

  • 90% of employers say that meals help their employees build stronger relationships with colleagues.
  • 79% of employers view meals as a way for new employees to meet their coworkers

Megan Palmer of ZeroCrater says that family-style office meals gives
“the chance to engage with coworkers you’re not normally interacting with, whether it’s the new intern, the CEO or a different department. “

Sometimes, group unity can be achieved via contests. Matthew Ross of the mattress review site The Slumber Yard encouraged his employees last year to compete in a local chili cook-off event. He adds, “We came up with a recipe as a team and then I even gave everyone paid time off the day before to prep everything. It seemed like this event brought everyone together since we had a common goal to medal in the event. I also think it helped that a chili cook-off is sort of neutral in that everyone can participate and have fun.”

The California firm EvansHardy+Young does it very California-like. In other words, they’ve seen team building success with a 5-week Improv session. While that seems far more daunting that most companies would want to do (I suspect most will opt for the snowboarding vacation in Utah), EHY’s Marketing Director Jamie Eschette says, “What was initially seen by many as a terrifying “opportunity,” turned out to be a hysterical, wall-crumbling, team-building exercise for everyone. Not only did our presenters learn new ways to manage high-pressure stress and think on their feet, but our other employees learned how to navigate difficult conversations, build cross department rapport and gained confidence by achieving a new skill. It was a definite win a several levels and I would highly recommend this to other organizations. ” Of course, their next activity will be a quiet course in Mindfulness.

You can also allow the group to do something that is bigger than themselves. Le’Wana Harris who is an Inclusion Coach, encourages acts of kindness and service as team building activities.  One of her early examples was her team of Regional Account Managers helped feed homeowners and contractors during the rebuild in Long Island following Hurricane Sandy.  

One of the most interesting activities Team Building research has found it the Electric Motors Catalyst kit.  It was designed for kids, but because it comes with 10 open-ended challenges it’s a great way for adults to learn to think and work together too.

Group Travel does appear to be one of the most utlized and effective activities. I still remember the bonds I forged on our high school trip to Disney World. However, Johannes Larsson, CEO and Founder of likes to add by ““work getaway” we don’t mean get away from work but get away to work.” Last year he took his group to both Bali and Turkey.

If your group doesn’t like the idea of working while getting away, travel adventures where they are challenged together does seem like the way to go. As Micah Ricks of BambooHR reminds us, ”
One of our main goals is always to make our people feel loved and taken care of on a personal level. I feel like we pride ourselves in how hard we work when we are at work, and letting our people enjoy high-quality work/life balance. “