mandatory.corporate.team.building.activityHere’s one I haven’t quite got worked out yet.

The whole point of a corporate team building activity is to get a work group to function better: to improve communication, boost morale & trust, and practice positive teamwork skills which may be put to use back in the office. But if this is imposed on staff, will the exercise be effective?

I will say this: most of the NYC corporate team building events I’ve produced have been voluntary – that is, staff is invited to attend, not required. Very often these events are held after work hours and off-site, and there is an accepted amount of attrition for those who need to work late, care for their kids, or simply have other plans.

However, if the event is planned during the workday and/or at the office, that’s a different matter entirely. In that case, there is a reasonable expectation among both management and rank-and-file employees that attendance is expected, and that unexcused absences will be looked down upon. While I’ve yet to see an instance of “be there, or face disciplinary action,” in cases where a corporate team building exercise is being held on-site during business hours, there is a not-so-subtle feeling that attendance isn’t really optional.

Herein lies the confounding part: it’s not necessarily a bad thing to be forced to attend a team building activity during the day. After all, consider the alternative from your staff’s point of view: they have to work! I’d be willing to bet you my last Fig Newton that when presented with the option of plugging away at the same grind for yet another workday, or doing something – ANYTHING – defined as “team building,” your people will jump at the chance to do so. Even if it’s lame.

So really, I just don’t know. My gut tells me that if you want people to really buy into the event and go into it with a full heart and open mind, than it should be voluntary; however, if it’s really important to have the entire team there with no exceptions, so long as it’s not imposing on their personal time or severely impacting the workload, I can see the value in that, too.

What do you think: mandatory, or voluntary? Please share your thoughts below!