Team Building With Scavenger Hunts

You Can Use a Scavenger Hunt to Strengthen and Build Your Team

Being successful in the workplace requires contributions from everyone on the team. A strong team is important to meet company goals and function more efficiently in the workplace. This is why it is important for a team of employees to perform just as they are named, as a team. There are many ways to develop and build a team atmosphere in the workplace. One great way is to sponsor a team scavenger hunt.

What is a Scavenger Hunt?

I am sure you know what a scavenger hunt is, but to refresh your memory, it is merely a challenge to find specific items within a specific set of boundaries. A list of items is given to each team and they are to find the items and return them by a specific deadline. The team that returns with the most items found from their list in the designated time is the winner. Scavenger hunts can be done on an individual basis with one winner or, for the purposes of team-building, can be done in teams. They are a fun way to get your team mates to work together.

Have the Scavenger Hunt In the Office or Outside the Office to Build the Team

You can make the hunt business related by selecting items that relate to your business or market or you can make it more fun and select random items that will be more difficult to find. If you have time to do the scavenger hunt outside of the office it can be even more fun and more challenging.

To do a scavenger hunt in the office, spend a day (possibly on the weekend prior to the event) and hide certain items (or find existing items) all over the office building. Be sure and put them all into a list. You can make it more challenging by adding very specific items on the list, like a paperclip that has a red piece of string tied to it. If you have a tub of paperclips that people go to when they need more, place the string tied paperclip at the bottom of the tub, so it is not easily noticed when glancing in the bin. If there are plants in your office you can put small items, like small glass beads or maybe a push pin into the dirt at the base of the plant. Be sure to be specific on the list of what you are looking for. If you want them to find the glass bead that is in the dirt, list “a dirt covered clear glass bead”. This will make them look for a specific item.

Guidelines for the Team Building Scavenger Hunt

Prior to starting the scavenger hunt, be sure to lay out some general guidelines. Make sure they know what the boundaries are that they should look in. Make sure they understand that the idea is to work as a team to gather the items on their list. You can add additional rules and requirements to force the groups to work together as a team, i.e. everyone must stick together, etc.

Choosing Teams for the Scavenger Hunt

As you begin the scavenger hunt, you may want to assign people to the teams they will be working with. This gives you the opportunity to break up any office clicks that may be in place or to put certain people together that need to grow into a more cohesive team. You can also choose to put participants who are already close on opposite teams to allow them to get to know the other people that are working in their office but that they do not often communicate with. Your teams should be chosen based on your objectives for the scavenger hunt.

Each team will have to decide their strategies and how they will be working together to get the scavenger hunt completed. Regardless of their strategy, they will have to work together to come up with a plan and to execute the task.

Choosing Prizes for your Team Building Scavenger Hunt

You may decide to tell the participants what the prize will be, or to make it more intriguing, do not tell them. Just tell them that they will really like the prize that the winning team receives. The mystery will probably make them work harder towards winning.

The prize for the scavenger hunt should be thought about carefully. You have to make sure that it is something that is desired by the majority of the office staff. It is virtually impossible to please every person with the prize but you can definitely come up with something that most will enjoy. It may be a pizza party that they Management staff throws for them. If it is possible, paid time off is always a great reward. You could offer the winning team a half day off with pay. If time off is not something that is workable due to workload or other reasons, consider other options, like a signed certificate of completion. This should be signed by people that are high up in the company, not just their immediate supervisors. This will hold more meaning if the upper management staff has a part in their recognition. A great reward for all of the participants may be in order as well. You should not tell the teams that they will all be rewarded prior to the finish of the scavenger hunt. This will work as a work against you because it will unmotivate them. If they know they will all be rewarded then they will surely not put as much effort into the task.

Debriefing the Scavenger Hunt

Without any additional input, the activity itself will serve to bond the team together in a fun way that carries over into their work. But you may also wish to have the teams debrief some of the behaviors that take place during the scavenger hunt. While the scavenger hunt is in process, take a look at how the employees are relating to each other. You will definitely be able to see the leadership possibilities in certain employees. You will also see which employees follow directions the best. Many strengths and weaknesses may be revealed and the management staff can make full use of the information that is gained from this exercise. Some strategies and behaviors will be more successful than others.

To bring out these points you might want to have a basic team debrief right after the scavenger hunt is finished. Ask the participants to discuss some of the following questions:

  • What happened?
  • What were the results? Why?
  • What was successful? What could have been done better?
  • What strengths of individuals were discovered? What skills and strengths were not fully utilized?
  • How could you offset or overcome any weaknesses?
  • What could have been done differently?
  • What did you learn about others in the team?
  • How can what you learned about each other be helpful in the workplace?

Benefits of a Scavenger Hunt for Team-Building

Holding an office scavenger hunt is a great idea. Not only will it be a fun break from the day to day responsibilities, but it will provide them the opportunity to practice team work. There are benefits for the participants as well as the management staff. The management staff will be able to observe and to recognize traits in their employees that they may not have realized without the scavenger hunt. The task is office friendly and fun for everyone that is involved.

Need some Ideas?

You can get ideas for specific scavenger hunts from

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