The Team That Plays Together Stays Together

Welcome to the #shiftyestribe! Every Tuesday, Galen Emanuele emails tools to advance leadership skills, team culture, and personal growth. Relevant, authentic, no spam. Sign up now to get it in your inbox.

Your people are your company’s most valuable asset. Even if you’ve got an excellent product or concept, without people that work well together you’re destined for mediocrity (or as I like to call it, failure). Successful companies prioritize culture and value the experience of their people. The costly mistake of ignoring workplace culture often results in dysfunctional teams, disengaged employees, low productivity, and high turnover. All of which affect your bottom line, of course, since Gallup research shows that disengaged employees cost U.S. businesses about $450 billion annually in lost productivity.

Company culture is a multifaceted beast and while there are many ways to address and improve company culture, an effective way to build strong, cohesive teams and engagement is to play.


Playing together provides a shared experience that cannot be achieved if all your people ever do is perform their job descriptions around each other. Playing allows them to cooperate, laugh, creatively face challenges and problem solve together, as well as experience vulnerability, improvisation, and collaboration in a fun, organic way.


The benefits are increased engagement, productivity, trust, and job satisfaction—all of which greatly affect your company’s bottom line.


Make it an important tradition; do it once a week, every other week, or once a month. Dedicating some hours of month to play together is worth every minute. It’s an investment in a better company and it pays out in increased performance and productivity from happier, more cohesive teams. Make sure to include activities with some healthy competition and ones that require everyone to work together on a shared project. Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:


Use a whiteboard and play Pictionary, or do some Family Feud style office and company trivia. I highly recommend the game Celebrity, it’s hilarious (description & rules for Celebrity).


Organize something outside of the office like a scavenger hunt, bowling, or zip lining.

Organize a volunteer day planting trees, visiting animals at a shelter, etc.

Join a league and play a sport like softball, indoor soccer, or basketball together.

Hold a poker tournament or an easy card game like “Go Fish” with a cheesy trophy for the winners.


Switch it up, try different things. Celebrate your team’s uniqueness. If you have people who fish or knit then go fishing or have everyone learn to knit. Capitalize on the opportunity to learn more about each other. Find a way to include everyone and set the ground rule that everyone participates fully with good sportsmanship and attitudes.


Think of the time you spend playing together as time spent making your team more awesome. Start implementing play with your teams immediately.


The team that plays together kicks ass together.

Now go play.