The following answers are provided by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Discuss Something on Which No One Can Claim Expertise
Find a subject that makes everyone realize they need to LEARN, not teach, dictate or lead. Work together to discover information about that topic. In addition to being fun, it may have surprising effects over time in creative brainstorming, strategy and customer relations, while bringing your team closer together.
2. Find Laughter
Science says smiling at someone makes you more approachable. Smiling, laughing and finding common humor provides our team endless hours of entertainment and ongoing office jokes. Whether it is sending each other Someecards or links to the popular Tumblr, #whatshouldwecallme, our office finds ways to make each other laugh and ultimately build a better, more collaborative atmosphere.
- Kim Kaupe, ‘ZinePak
3. Do a Triathlon
Last summer, we put together four relay teams and participated in a sprint triathlon (a few spouses and kids joined in, too). Even the people who didn’t participate in the event came to watch everyone else, and it was a great team-building outing. We were competitive — in a friendly way, of course — but also cheering each other on. We’ll definitely do another one this summer.
4. Try Karaoke
The team needs to have fun outside of the office. This makes the people on your team get closer, and it ultimately makes them want to work even harder. Particularly in a startup environment, everyone needs to feel like they’re in it together and want the whole team to succeed. Karaoke is a unique mix of fun and embarrassment. But dinners, drinks and movies don’t hurt, either.
- Carlo Cisco, FoodFan
5. Create a Culture Committee
We have a committee of about eight employees from different departments that plan regular events for our whole office. We’ve given them a generous budget, and they plan monthly birthday parties, special food treats (green shakes for a St. Paddy’s Day), happy hours and more. Since they are employees, they also have a great pulse on what other employees would enjoy. Members rotate quarterly.
6. Build Excitement at Morning Meetings
Each morning, we have a meeting at 9:55 a.m. in which each of us answers (1) what we’re most excited to do that day and (2) some crazy question that we came up with earlier that morning. Recent examples include “Who would you be in a previous life?” and “What’s your favorite thing about tropical islands?”
- Derek Flanzraich, Greatist
7. Bring the Team Closer With Team Sports
One way to bring a team of co-workers together is by literally creating a team. Whether it’s dodgeball or softball, it’s great to have something that everyone looks forward to at the end of the day. Drinks after a game certainly don’t't hurt, either.
- Jared Christopherson, Yellowhammer
8. Take a Team Trip
Every team I work with, in the early days, will go on a retreat together. It may feel weird or irresponsible to spend money on paying for a team vacation, but it’s worth every penny. Startups are a battle, and you need to know your fellow warriors. Cook together, clean together, go skiing or play soccer. Whatever it is, hang out and get comfortable with each other.
- Gagan Biyani, Growth Hackers Conference
9. Host Regular Socials
We host regular happy hours and outings to keep our team refreshed and connected. Twice a month, we budget $100 to $200 for half-price happy hour appetizers or even just a pizza party. When you’re busy grinding, it can be difficult to justify an hour of fun — but it’s completely worth it. Your team will be more cohesive and ready to get stuff done.
- Justin Beck, PerBlue
10. Give Them Beer
We have a kegerator in our kitchen. Besides the fact that this encourages a social environment, most conflicts are easily resolved over a beer and an honest conversation.
- Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics