How to Make the Most of Your Next Team Building Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are great fun. They have been since we were kids, searching through the briars and the brambles for those elusive goodies and prizes. Today, as an adult, you can still enjoy a scavenger hunt, but with a slightly different objective in mind. Not that fun and excitement aren’t still part of what it’s all about but there can be real-life benefits evolving from scavenger hunts, for both teams and organizers.
Just remember back to your days as a kid, with your team of best buddies racing against the other guys for that coveted trophy. Well, that’s exactly what it’s STILL all about – teamwork. And in today’s highly competitive corporate world, successful teamwork translates into better, more enjoyable working conditions along with the additional benefits of progress, advancement, achievement, and, yes, even monetary rewards along the way.
For the company or organization, there is a lasting effect, way beyond the fun and enjoyment. Teamwork is vital to ensure that the enterprise runs at optimum levels; with all its parts functioning like a synchronized, well-oiled machine. This can best be achieved with good teamwork, in which all participants, feeling valued and appreciated, strive for their best results in harmony with their colleagues, for the good of the enterprise – and of course themselves.
Ninety-three percent of employees who say they feel valued at their job report that they are motivated to do their best work. A poll done by the American Psychological Association shows that there are obvious benefits to organizations for team building events and activities – companies with engaged employees report 2.5x higher revenues than competitors with disengaged employees. Scavenger hunts are one way to engage employees, engender team spirit, competitiveness and a desire to attain goals, complete tasks, solve problems, and overcome challenges – just like every day at the office.
In running a scavenger hunt as a corporate activity, HR managers and event organizers need to take a number of very important principles and considerations into account. Here are six we’ve found work best to help get you started:
A few days before the event, assign teams and encourage team members to devise a team name or even a special outfit, whether T-shirts, caps, armbands. One of our customers even went so far as to encourage costumes which proved to be a big part of the fun. This begins the team building process, even before your group starts running all over town!
Since the best team building activities are offsite, away from the office, planning ahead also lets you monitor for “uncontrollable” variables, like the weather, roadblocks, or whether a particular store or other pit stops on your hunt has gone out of business. Make sure you stay on top of any potential changes that might interfere with the otherwise perfect hunt you’ve got planned, leading up to and even on the day of the hunt itself!
Keep your teams small and diverse
Team building scavenger hunts are all about getting to know each other. It goes without saying that this sort of thing happens more effectively in small groups. Our recommended number for group communications is between 6-8 people or no more than 10 for larger groups. Smaller groups also enable teams to move quickly during the hunt.
Another key consideration is to mix it up. Janet and Susan from finance already know each other so putting them on the same team is missing the point. Instead, put Jane from Finance on the same team as Johnson from Tech. This kind of cross-departmental diversity is one of the biggest drivers of success we see in our scavenger hunts, giving people who don’t otherwise see each other in their day-to-day an opportunity to interact. One of our favorite stories is of a C-level executive and a maintenance guy who met on one of our team building scavenger hunts and became fast friends when they discovered they grew up in the same neighborhood and shared several mutual friends.
We hear about new relationships like these being formed on our hunts all the time. It’s what happens naturally when people are solving challenges and celebrating their successes together – that’s the kind of true interaction we’re seeking!
Encourage teams to build themselves
Get teams to appoint their own leader for the group – and to avoid picking the “obvious” leaders. Team building scavenger hunts are a great opportunity for those who might not otherwise speak up at the office to practice their leadership skills under less intimidating, more fun-oriented circumstances. Ideally, team leaders should be chosen at random by the group and should not be someone who already happens to be a leader or a manager at work. Ideally, every department can be represented by a team leader on a hunt: Sales, Operations, Customer Service, etc.
You can also consider having team members assign specific tasks and roles to the other members – pathfinder, record keeper, photographer. Each member will know his or her responsibilities and the contribution they will make to their anticipated success.
It’s not just about the monuments
Consider why you’re doing a hunt in the first place: it’s about creating opportunities for people to come together and bond. The George Washington monument alone isn’t going to cut it. In other words, a successful team building hunt isn’t so much about the monuments as it is about having an adventure that drives conversation. That’s why we search for fun, historical facts that baffle the mind – or at least get a good laugh. These are the kinds of challenges that encourage teams to really engage with one another. On one of our typical scavenger hunts, for example, the challenge isn’t so much about finding the Washington monument as much as learning some esoteric facts or discovering something unexpected along the way. That’s the stuff we believe real team building is made of.
Reward the winners and end with a bang!
Pavlov proved that rewards work wonders! Offer anything from gift cards, humorous trophies/medals, or additional vacation days, to a dinner for two, concert tickets, and more. And then award the prizes at an “end of hunt” event at a restaurant or bar to let the fun continue.
Last but not least… don’t forget the nitty-gritty
This may go without saying but setting a few guidelines for your scavenger hunt will help ensure that everyone is on the same page, no matter how large your group is. You can communicate these guidelines when you meet before the hunt begins or a few days in advance via email in case anyone has any questions. Such guidelines can include rules about time limits and cut-off times; as well as general behavior. Your group will be representing your company as they make their way about town, visiting local business owners as well as any landmarks. Remind them about the importance of respectful behavior, including keeping noise levels down, and respecting any traffic and municipal laws.
There are literally hundreds of different types of team building scavenger hunts with a variety of approaches and methods for giving your group a good time. These tips can help make sure you are delivering both the most enjoyable and most memorable experience to offer benefits that extend way beyond the event itself. That’s the entire idea. Embrace it.
Find out how Strayboots can help you make your next scavenger hunt an awesome, and beneficial experience all around.