Best Events New York – Summer 2009
"Is Teambuilding Dead? – A drain on the bottom line or a way to improve it?" by Harvey Chipkin
(article not available online, excerpts shown here)
At face value, teambuilding exercises sound like a good idea. What’s not to like about boosting employee morale and promoting cooperation, ostensibly to increase productivity and ultimately to help drive profits? Detractors cite the costs, somewhat imprecise ROI, and even perception. Because teambuilding frequently involves “games” and time away from the office, often at considerable expense, it has come under heavy scrutiny in a period when all companies have to justify every budgeted dollar. That applies especially to offsite meetings and employee events, which can be perceived as examples of corporate excess under the banner of “the AIG effect” after a notorious retreat at a luxury resort by the bailed-out insurance company last fall.
…And while spending on meetings has plummeted, many company leaders now see teambuilding as more important than ever.
Budgeting for Maximum Return
The cost of teambuilding initiatives ranges from literally nothing to forbiddingly expensive. The mission, most now agree, is to get the most out of it no matter what the pricepoint. As Alan Ranzer, founder of Impact 4 Good, which runs philanthropic teambuilding programs, said, “Most of our activities last two hours, but they can be as short as one hour. If you were to compare the price of spa treatments or golf, it becomes very affordable. Our activities cost about $60 to $100 a person.”
Build Morale by Doing Good
“This is a time,” says Ranzer, “when the fear of layoffs is real, and keeping people motivated is particularly important.” He continued, “Research shows that self worth is more important even than compensation….Salaries might not be increasing but if a company does something that makes employees feel good about themselves, that will be a motivator.” There is a veritable tidal wave of “giving back” in teambuilding initiatives recently, and corporate social responsibility has become the new mantra. As Ranzer pointed out, “In a time of oversight and extreme criticism in the corporate arena, it’s hard to say that spending money on community outreach is money poorly spent.”
“We try to bring a true community service experience to the ballroom,” says Ranzer, who founded Impact 4 Good in 2005 because he saw a void in this area even during the boom. But he adds, “The ‘giving back’ option is not always just about altruism – but about doing well for the company too. Activities like scavenger hunts and beach Olympics are great, but a lot of groups have done that and are looking for something new – and giving back can make a real impact.”