If you’re wondering: “When did kayaking become a thing in the corporate world?”, the answer is “When managers discovered that a day of morale-boosting, adventure-filled enjoyment with their employees was a great way to connect with them”.
Recreational events of all sorts, from company picnics and sports days to weekend-long retreats featuring activities ranging from paintball battles and kayak championships to zip-lining and indoor skydiving, are beneficial for participants at all levels of a company. They foster goodwill, esprit de corps, self-confidence, engagement, and more.
The rewards of having fun
When companies play together, morale skyrockets. Knowing you’re about to spend a day or a weekend on a GPS treasure hunt, a wine-tasting journey, or going zombie hunting, is enough to make anyone’s heart leap! Offering employees a real break from their routines is an amazing way to jumpstart energy, renew excitement, and generally improve everyone’s spirits. And as any good manager knows, employees with high morale are more willing to put in extra effort and hours at work.
Communication is another thing that gets a boost when companies engage in recreational activities, whether for an afternoon or for longer. The invisible walls between managers and employees disappear because the playing field is, quite literally, levelled. There are no suits and ties when you’re paddling in a kayak or dangling from a zip-line, so if you need a helping hand, it doesn’t matter whether the person next to you is your boss or your assistant: you’re going to have to communicate, and you’re going to have to do it well! That moment of shared trust can lead to more meaningful communication throughout the company in the future.
All this, and productivity too
Out-of-office activities that require collaborative thinking and action can also improve in-office projects requiring teamwork. After all, once you’ve successfully defeated zombies together, you’ll better understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests. This newfound understanding will help you work more efficiently together on projects once you’re back in the “real world”.
In the same way, recreational activities that require problem solving skills can be transferred back to the workplace. Say you’ve been tasked with deciphering part of a treasure map. Maybe your teammates are people with whom you’ve never before worked. But by exchanging your different skill sets, you can decode that map together. And once you’re back in the office, you’re all likely to discover that you’ve got a few new problem solving tools at your fingertips… tools that can boost your productivity in entirely new ways.
When to take the leap
There are dozens of reasons for a company to offer its employees a fun-filled event: to welcome new employees after a merger; to break down barriers between departments, between employees and management, or even between generations; to reward top performers; to celebrate corporate milestones; to help a team recharge their batteries after a difficult quarter; or to celebrating a big win. But the best reason of all is… just for the sheer, wonderful fun of it.