Companies
August 31, 2022

Volunteering: a teambuilding activity with impact

Teambuilding is an important investment. By giving employees opportunities to connect away from their desks, managers can create a better environment, improved relationships, and more engaged employees.  

However, teambuilding activities frequently get a bad reputation – and sometimes, for good reason. Between ice breakers, trust falls, puzzles, and kickball, teambuilding exercises can be described as awkward, lame, embarrassing, or forced. 

When employees see it as a waste of time, teambuilding activities can become team-breaking.

Captain Holt of Brooklyn Nine-Nine says, "Why is no one having a good time? I specifically requested it." (GIF from Tenor)

Here’s an idea for your next teambuilding event: volunteer as a team. Not only is there a wide variety of activities to choose from, but they’re also inclusive and meaningful, with benefits that last beyond the workday. 

Research shows that volunteering together: 

  • Provides opportunities for connection 
  • Creates a space to practice communication 
  • Builds social support among teams 
  • Improves employee wellbeing, physically and mentally 

Read on to learn how volunteering is a unique and meaningful teambuilding activity, with benefits for both your team and your community.

Create a space to make new connections

New spaces inspire new ideas – it’s important that employees can leave the stress of everyday work behind. Volunteer activities naturally create positive spaces for teammates to connect. 

Many volunteer activities involve tasks like sorting donations, assembling kits, beautifying gardens, or preparing meals – all things that don’t require any prior skill or expertise. This removes power dynamics and pressure to perform among teammates, creating a relaxed environment where connections beyond work can be made. 

Doing these simple, fun tasks together also provides opportunities and topics to talk with people they may not otherwise talk to, and new ways to engage with people they already know. 

Practice teamwork and build a sense of belonging

Studies show that working together on activities that make a positive social impact builds cohesion, trust, and community. When volunteering, teammates learn about the nonprofit’s cause and work together to support it.   

At the beginning of a volunteer event, the nonprofit’s volunteer coordinator usually educates the group on how to do the activity and how it directly supports their mission. For example, Children's Book Bank’s volunteer coordinator takes 10 minutes to show us how to repair books, and tells us that these books will be donated to children in the Portland area to address the reading gap.

With an understanding of the impact made by volunteering, teammates can look back on a meaningful, shared experience that tangibly benefited their local community. 

Boost wellbeing and morale

Volunteering comes with physical and mental benefits. A 2017 study by UnitedHealthcare found that after volunteering, American adults experience:

  • Feeling healthier (75%)
  • Better mood (93%) 
  • Less stress (79%)
  • Improved self esteem (88%)

In a group setting, these effects can multiply. Working together and helping others reduces feelings of isolation and reinforces connection in community. As more and more companies transition to hybrid or remote workplaces, this is more important than ever.

Conclusion

For your next teambuilding event, try out volunteering. You’ll strengthen connections, practice teamwork, and boost morale all while making an impact in your local community. Companies, employees, nonprofits, and the populations they serve all benefit from teams getting involved. 

Ready to start planning? Field Day can help you find activities that fit your team, connect with local nonprofits, coordinate events, and track your impact. Right now, we’re helping companies and teams with a presence in the Portland metro area volunteer together. Learn more about Field Day for companies

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Companies and teams in Portland, Oregon are bringing their volunteer programs to life on Field Day.

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