Employee Team Building on a Budget ...
Tips to Stretch Your Funds Further

Employee team building can be expensive. Here's some ideas to help you save money and get better value for your teambuilding investment.

I work in a public sector organization where funds for team building are limited. I have friends in the non-profit sector and small business … they typically have even less to spend.

And, of course, in the current economic climate many businesses are simply looking for ways to do more for less.

Even if your company is doing well, you could still use these ideas to identify some great savings … the extra money could always go towards more food or alcohol!

Thanks to Anne Thornley-Brown, President of Executive Oasis International for the inspiration and ideas for this page.

Executive Oasis International offers business simulations for employee team building, executive retreats and incentive travel. Featured destinations include Canada, Jamaica, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Egypt, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Visit the directory listing of Executive Oasis International for more information.

Employee Team Building - 
Save Money and Still Have Fun!

It is possible to save money, provide employee team building that has bottom line value, and still have fun doing it.

In fact, sometimes the need to save money can create a richer programme.

The key to stretching your team building dollars is to keep the essence of the team building and eliminate non value-added activities. For example, use your budget to obtain expert facilitation to address your business needs and find other ways to save money.

Here are some team building tips to deliver powerful programmes that save money, eliminate fluff and add bottom line value:

Be Clear ...

  1. By far the best way to ensure you get value for money is to be very clear on your objectives. If you know what you want to achieve, you’ll be able to use your money where it will have the most impact. Tailoring an activity to meet your specific needs will maximize the return on investment.

  2. It can also help to be very clear on your budget. Tell a team building company exactly what outcomes you want and how much you have to spend. They might surprise you with what can be achieved.

Better Outcomes = Better Value

  1. Hold employee events that are more than just recreational. Facilitated team building that addresses your company’s specific business issues and challenges can provide more bottom-line value than events that are 'pure fun'.
  2. Extend the length of your employee team building activities. This costs more upfront - in time away from work and the cost of the longer event. However, extended team building can produce more lasting change than half day 'quick fixes'. In the long run, this may be money well spent. Perhaps it’s time to dig deep and focus on sessions of at least a day that give your team ideas, tools and strategies to:
    • attract new business
    • cut costs, and
    • improve business results.
  1. Reduce the scope of your employee team building (which is the opposite of the previous point). Many team building companies run shorter versions of their most popular team building activities for those who are limited by time or budget. Depending on your team’s needs, this can still deliver better outcomes than a non-facilitated team building session.

  2. Incorporate a business related project and still retain the fun factor. The benefit is that your organization will be raising the bar, resolving a real business issue and pulling together as a team… while STILL having fun.

Smart Shopping

  1. Buy in Bulk. If you are going to need team building for many departments, use a firm that specializes in employee team building to help you design and execute an integrated strategy. You’ll save money due to the volume. If each department does its own thing, you’ll pay top dollar every time.
  2. Consider one stop shopping. If you need to do an executive retreat, team building, an incentive trip, and some recreational and corporate events, enjoy the benefits and the savings of one stop shopping. Look for a firm like Executive Oasis International that offers one stop shopping in Canada, Jamaica, Dubai, Oman, Singapore, and Malaysia.
  3. Buy Direct. Some firms use their marketing or ad agency, or outsourced HR service to organize team building. Go directly to a specialized team building organization. The agency will be outsourcing execution anyway and they will add a HEFTY mark-up.

Share the Cost

  1. Join with other companies to do facilitated team building. In most cases, you wouldn’t hire an external trainer to train only 1 or 2 staff members. You’d send them to an external training course with people from other companies instead. Along the same lines, it’s possible to find ‘open’ team building, where your team can participate in employee team building activities with other organizations. Great for small teams. Depending where you live, this option can be hard to find, but ask around.
  2. Participate in community or shared events. Enter a corporate team in a charity golf day or fun run, or take part in a major corporate games event. You can have all the buzz of a large event, at a fraction of the cost and fuss. This can even be done for events like photographic team building and scavenger hunts.

Use Your Time Effectively

  1. Modify your schedule. Are you concerned about losing productivity? Instead of taking people away for a 3 day retreat, why not have a session once per week or break the team building up into two 1 1/2 day sessions spread 2 weeks apart. If you’re doing something that incorporates a work related project, this format would be perfect.
  2. Schedule your team building as far in advance as in practical. You may be able to take advantage of discounts and bargains by having the time to shop around for deals.

Cut the Cost of your 'Extras'

  1. Bring employee team building ‘on-site’. Or do most of the activities on-site and part of the session at a hotel or other venue close by. You’ll save a lot in hotel/venue costs, meals and even transportation.
  2. Explore more cost-effective venues such as:
    • community colleges
    • universities
    • schools (particularly during holiday periods)
    • community centres
    • camping grounds, and
    • conservation areas.

    Sometimes organizations do the opposite. They spend a lot of money for an expensive resort or airport hotel, and then scrimp on the actual team building activities.

  1. Cut booze out of the budget. This won’t make you very popular but it will save you a lot of money and ensure that team members are focused for the entire session.

  2. Be creative with food choices. Use a cooking school, catering department from a community college or local restaurant to cater your on-site session. Or plan your event so that a low-cost option seems natural. 

    For example, on one of my team outings, we stopped the bus for morning tea at a local park … the informal location meant the team was quite happy with individual snack packs and juice bottles which we carried with us.

Thanks once again to Executive Oasis International for the inspiration for most of the ideas on this page. Executive Oasis International offer team building in Canada, the Middle East and Asia.

Even with the above tips, if you are team building on a budget, you need to be realistic.

$20/head will buy you a cinema ticket and popcorn. You’re not going to get a professional team building company to assist you for this price.

If this is really all you have to spend, then I suggest you read our article on why employee team building is important in tough times. It may help you build a case with your management for a budget increase.

Alternatively, take a look at our ideas for free, low cost and do-it-yourself team building.

This mightn’t be as good as engaging the help of an expert, but it’s likely to be better than nothing. 

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