Team-building exercises are a $46 billion per year industry in America, and nearly one-third of American employers utilize them. When done properly, individual contributors can find common ground and bond in ways that collectively improve workplace quality of life. When executed poorly, you could have a workers’ compensation claim on your hands.
For example, a director of creative solutions at a PR firm in South Carolina, Stephen Whigham, arranged a company kickball game as a way to engage his subordinates in friendly competition. He spent over $400 creating event t-shirts and purchasing snacks. But when Mr. Whigham rounded third and tried to avoid being tagged out, he fell, shattered his tibia and fibula, and filed a workers’ compensation claim. He left the firm.
Another employee, an editorial assistant at a publishing company, found himself on the short end of a trust fall exercise. He was paired with an employee notorious for his endless Snapchats. He crossed his arms, closed his eyes, and fell. Instead of falling into the arms of his comrade, he dropped to the floor and opened his eyes to find his partner filming the whole thing.
Although team-building exercises carry the potential to bring a team together, they cannot be used to solve underlying problems—larger issues need to be dealt with in a professional setting.