Sustainability has become a major theme for organizations, even if the rhetoric still needs to be fully integrated into a business’s practices. This disconnect is not necessarily due to a lack of concern, though. For many companies, it’s a question of how to quickly and effectively change stride to blend sustainable practices into their events and business practices.
One way to integrate sustainable solutions is to have team building events. Your organization’s focus on engagement and sustainability can go hand-in-hand seamlessly with good planning. CSI DMC has developed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and team building events in hundreds of destinations. Our local destination experts and event planning teams understand how to make teambuilding gatherings fun, feasible, and sustainable. Of course, it doesn’t just happen! At a minimum, it takes thoughtful planning to deliver a successful event that makes a measurable difference.
WHY INCORPORATE SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES IN TEAM BUILDING?
Team building is more than just a way for colleagues to feel good about working together or be more efficient. On some level, they’re also absorbing the company’s brand values. Culture is the heart of any great company, and you can empower employees directly through well-crafted sustainability initiatives that feel good, do good, and meet goals. You can tap into their humanity and unite them in a mission larger than themselves and their careers.
Shares Vanessa Doval, a long-time resident of South Florida and Director of Sales with CSI DMC,” In South Florida, we manage sustainable team building activities that give back to the community in meaningful ways. Beach clean-ups are popular. One of my favorites is arranging activities where teams can explore our unique coastal ecosystem while paddling through mangrove tunnels and along shallow shorelines.” The outing allows people to “lend a helping hand in collecting harmful debris that negatively impacts the ecosystem, marine life, and beautiful waterbirds.”
Kara Shaeve, a nature enthusiast and Account Executive with CSI DMC’s team in Phoenix, Arizona, likes creating sustainable experiences that combine exercise, stunning views – and debris pickup! Kara shares, “Right now, my favorite choice for clients looking for a team bonding opportunity that embraces the natural beauty in the Greater Phoenix region includes a hike on the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve at the bottom of the McDowell Mountains. Most groups we work with do this early morning, a beautiful time of day in the Valley of the Sun! It’s amazing how quickly people relax and enjoy each other’s company when they breathe deep, bond with nature, and do good together!”
Sustainable team building initiatives can be as simple as decorating succulent pots for the office and colleague gifting or as an important feature of a corporate retreat. Well-planned sustainable team events can spread positive results to entire communities or at a minimum, provide everyone with a mood boost that lasts long after the office closes or the event concludes!
EXAMPLES OF SUSTAINABLE TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES
Kickstart planning with a few of these ideas that we work on with clients globally:
- Community engagement: Activities like trash pickup are classic for a reason. Less trash can save wildlife, and the cleaning component helps your team appreciate the environment on a different level.
- Planting trees or reseeding a meadow can take your efforts one step further by supporting future generations.
- Product workshops: Teaching people to make cosmetics or cleaning solutions with natural ingredients isn’t just practical; it’s fascinating! It’s also an excellent opportunity for attendees to take tips home, save money and help protect their environment.
- Sustainable triathlons: Healthy competition in team building doesn’t just raise the stakes; it can raise engagement and satisfaction in the event. How fast can teams (correctly) sort out the recycling? How well can they work a heap of compost into the flower beds around a park? In a team setting, games like this mean everyone wins. You may even see the team’s appreciation of building employees (e.g., gardeners!) improve.
- Farm-to-table cooking experiences are more than a trend; they can become a way of life. A DMC can coordinate a visit to a local farm to help with the harvest, your team can learn more about where their food comes from and why choosing locally sourced ingredients is important.
CSI DMC manages events in over 60 destinations annually. Our teams live, work, and play in their local communities and regularly ideate about sustainable event solutions that genuinely impact their destination. Shares Annette Hawks, Vice President of Global Sales with CSI DMC “It is deeply fulfilling to deliver memorable team building events for clients interested in activities that impact the destination they are visiting or live in. For example, in a destination like Washington, DC, where 16.5% of the population lives below the poverty line, our local team can facilitate a day out that includes prepping locally sourced, wholesome meals. Or in Las Vegas, a destination with a striking array of mega-resorts and hotel rooms, our local team can blend a classic Vegas activation with repurposing amenities (e.g., mini shampoo bottles) for those needing hygiene products.”
GOALS ARE IMPORTANT: KEY PRINCIPLES OF SUSTAINABLE TEAM BUILDING
To meet organizational sustainability goals, the most successful team building events are planned with the following key ideas in mind:
- Metrics: Clear goals should be assigned to your team building, which can be connected to the company’s values (e.g., group coach transfers over individual Uber rides to reduce smog output by 25%).
- Ideas: Why not engage employees in the team building idea process? After all, they’re the ones who are going to have to do it! You can still surprise and delight them with the final choice.
- Education: There doesn’t need to be a sustainability lecture, but employees should learn more about their environment and how to help.
- Local: Sustainability starts with acting locally, so even if your team building events are further afield or part of a larger conference, the impact on the local environment should be considered and, wherever possible, incorporated into day-to-day activities. For example, if the group participates in a clean-up activity, learning how to reduce single-use plastics in their home environment or the office is relatable, doable, and quantifiable!
BENEFITS OF SUSTAINABLE TEAM BUILDING THAT GO BEYOND THE EVENT
Sustainable team building has been shown to boost morale on a visceral level. The more positive communication you can inspire with team building, both at work, during events, and outside of work, the more likely you will see increased engagement in the work itself. Team building events that positively impact our planet can spark closer friendships at work, informal green initiatives, and a sense of community.
At the heart of sustainable team building is collaboration. Different people come together to solve a problem, working out ways to promote a healthier lifestyle in the long run. Plus, there’s a ripple effect from these kinds of events that you may not realize. Employees engaged in a team building event focused on planting might teach their kids how to reseed an unsightly patch of dirt down their block. While not directly connected with work, it can further extend employees’ positive feelings about the event they attended.
OVERCOMING CHALLENGES WITH REALISTIC SOLUTIONS
Team building challenges often arise when not enough thought is given to the group at the heart of the equation or the environment they’re surrounded by. For example, if attendees feel they are in a competitive, cut-throat environment, it may be difficult to get them on board to help save our planet while bonding together!
One solution is to help create sustainable activities before even holding a team building event. Listening to employees by discussing what sustainability means to them and what incremental change they can commit to can help them immediately feel they are doing something tangible. It could be as simple as moving all their utility and banking notices online, which reduces paper waste. Another solution that saves money and reduces emissions includes carpooling, where at least three employees come to work in the same car and leave in the same car. As an organization, it is critically important that you demonstrate a commitment to sustainability through measurable means beyond a corporate statement.
Another challenge can be overcoming negative feelings about sustainability activities as a chore. The physical work of planting trees might be fun once, but not everyone wants – or is physically able – to do it. A solution is to share concerns with your DMC partner designing the team building event so that they can ensure fun is high on the agenda and activities are geared towards interests and abilities.
SUSTAINABILITY AND TEAM BUILDING – A NATURAL SUCCESS
Sustainable team building events go far beyond strengthening colleague relationships. Today, smart companies demonstrate their willingness to meet the current generation’s needs through company events that support the health of our planet today so that they may have it tomorrow. CSI DMC is committed to helping clients navigate and infuse sustainable solutions into their programs, locally and globally.
Ready to create your team building event with CSI DMC? Contact us today to start planning, and let’s make your next event a sustainable success!