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25 Trust-Building Activities to Try in The Workplace (With Tips) - HRDQ

25 Trust-Building Activities to Try in The Workplace (With Tips)

The existence of trust (or the lack thereof) can make or break an organization's culture. When employees trust each other and company leadership, it helps to improve teamwork, communication, productivity, and commitment to the brand.

Like in personal relationships, trust is one of the foundational stones of healthy business relationships. It's easy for coworkers to stay guarded while at work and never really get to know each other, but this can negatively impact the company and your employees.

Are you wondering how you can encourage a culture of trust in your organization?

If so, check out these twenty-five trust-building activities and some extra tips to help your brand form the sustainable success that emerges when employees and leadership alike can fully trust one another.

1. Back-to-Back Drawing

In this simple exercise, ask your team members to pair up and sit with their backs to one another. One person has a unique image in their hands, while the other has a pencil and paper.

Back to Back Drawing

The first person gives directions to the other regarding how to draw the image in their hands while the other works to recreate it. The two people can then switch roles with a new image.

2. Willow in the Wind

If you're looking for a trust-building activity for a large group, try Willow in the Wind. With roughly ten people, organize everyone in a circle with one person in the center.

Employees in a Circle

The person in the center will then lock their legs and fall backward gently with their eyes closed. The idea is that they can fall in any direction, and their coworkers will work to keep them upright.

3. Pinball

In this game, your team can take turns becoming a human pinball. You'll want at least ten people to participate. With your group standing in a circle, have one volunteer be pushed (gently) by another coworker into the center, where they'll continue walking forward in the position they were pushed.

Employees Standing in a Circle

Once they reach the other side of the circle, another team member will turn them around and nudge them in another direction. Though it might sound a bit silly, this is a great way to help everyone get more comfortable with one another and build trust in each other.

4. Staring Contest

Have your employees pair off and try to stare into each other's eyes for one minute.

Employee Staring Contest

It's surprisingly uncomfortable to do so, but you'll find that the experience brings everyone together and provides a great laugh.

5. Egg Drop

If you want to teach your employees to tap into their creative problem-solving skills while also promoting a culture of teamwork, try playing the game egg drop.

Employee Holding Eggs

Bring a bunch of different office supplies and some eggs, and give each group fifteen to twenty minutes to build a protective structure around their egg. Next, you can drop all their inventions from a specific height and judge how well each team did with the assignment.

6. Reflect Together

Learning about the memories that people hold dear can be a great way to get to know them better and build trust within a team. Consider giving everyone the opportunity to answer questions about the house they grew up in, their favorite teacher as a child, or the top three moments in their life.

Employees Reflecting Together

This activity is an excellent way to break out of the sometimes stodgy corporate environment and really dig into the depths with your team.

7. Classic Icebreaker Questions

If you want to incorporate trust-building without making a whole event out of it, try asking some classic icebreaker questions to kick off your regular team meetings. You can ask your employees work-related questions like "what's your most important project this month?" or more personal questions such as "who has had the biggest influence on your life?"

Asking Employees Icebreaker Questions

By sprinkling questions like these into your meetings, you'll find trust increases over time as everyone gets to know each other better.

8. Human Knot

For a more physical trust-building activity, try a game of human knot. You'll want at least six team members to stand in a circle together, with each person locking their right hand with the right hand of someone standing on the other side of the circle. Then, they can do the same with their other hand.

Human Knot Game

Now's when the fun begins. As soon as everyone is all linked up, instruct them to unravel the "human knot" they're in without releasing their grasp.

9. Operation Navigation

In this activity, you'll want your employees to pair up into teams of two. Before you begin, sprinkle different objects around a field if outside or a room if outside. With one person blindfolded and the other not, the non-blindfolded person helps to direct their blindfolded teammate around the obstacle course of objects.

Operation Navigation Game

If the non-blindfolded person can't help their partner avoid the obstacles, the team is out of the game. The team that can work together to get through the course most quickly without running into anything wins!

10. Endless Possibilities

In the game of Endless Possibilities, about five or six people get together, with one person given an object they will need to "use" in an unusual way without speaking.

Endless Possibilities Game

The rest of the participants then have the opportunity to guess what the use of the object is that the volunteer came up with. Everyone then gets a turn to devise creative ways to use a unique object.

11. Scavenger Hunt

For this trust-building activity, you'll want to break your team up into smaller groups and give them a list of tasks to accomplish or objects to find.

Team Scavenger Hunt

Give them an allotted amount of time (about an hour is good) to find as many items or finish as many tasks as possible.

12. Two Truths and a Lie

If you're looking for a fast and straightforward trust-building activity, try out two truths and a lie.

Two Truths and a Lie

Everyone takes turns saying two true things about themselves and one lie. Everyone else gets to guess which statement isn't true, and hilarity (and increased trust!) inevitably ensues.

13. Book Club

Simple yet effective, consider starting a book club with your team.

Employee Choosing a Book

With a monthly meeting discussing a book you've voted on as a team, you'll find interesting new perspectives crop up and add vitality to your company culture every time.

14. Blind Taste Test

This trust-building activity is precisely what it sounds like! Split your employees into teams of two and gather a variety of edible foods, making sure you're aware of any and all food allergies on staff before beginning.

Blind Taste Test

In each team, one person is blindfolded while the other offers them a portion of food to taste. They then can try and guess what the food is purely based on taste alone. If they're struggling to come up with the answer, their teammate can use descriptive words as hints without actually naming the food.

15. Anxiety Party

Though an anxiety party might not sound like anyone's idea of a good time, this is actually a really great trust-building activity to try in the workplace.

This is an opportunity for everyone to write down their biggest fears or anxieties in a list and rank them in order of intensity. The next step is for everyone to share this list with each other.

Anxiety Party Activity

While this exercise might sound like something that could end up on a list of anxieties (i.e., my coworkers learning what I fear the most), this can be an excellent way for your team to get to know each other better.

When we better understand what our coworkers are afraid of, we gain new perspectives on who they are and how we can all work best together. It also opens the doors for honest communication that is otherwise difficult to achieve in the workplace.

16. Teach Me

Many of your employees have skills they never had the opportunity to share with the rest of the team– until now.

Team Members Learning a Skill

Consider adding fifteen minutes to each of your weekly team meetings where every team member gets the chance to teach their coworkers about a skill they've developed outside of the office.

17. Blindfolded Mini Golf

Are you looking for an active trust-building activity to get everyone out of the office? Head to your nearest mini golf course, and don't forget your blindfolds.

Mini Golf Course

Give everyone a chance at each hole with a blindfold on for a great time that helps to build trust within your team.

18. Birth Map

Using a physical or digital map, you can have everyone place a pin where they were born.

Creating a Birth Map

This activity is a fun way to get to know each other better, which can contribute to increased trust in the workplace.

19. Deserted Island

This is another great activity for larger groups, where you can break your employees into teams of three or four. Give each team a list of random objects (at least twenty) and let them choose five items from the list that they would bring if they were stranded on an island.

Employees Playing Deserted Island

Finally, each team can have the opportunity to share their reasoning behind the objects they chose.

20. Flip Over

All you need for this one is some tarps or sheets of plastic.

Employees Playing Flip Over

Break your employees up into teams, and have each group stand on the tarp or plastic and instruct them to flip it over without setting a foot off the material.

21. Perfect Square

With a small group of employees, start by standing in a circle with each person holding a long rope and blindfolded. Everyone will then put the rope down and take a couple of steps away from it backward.

Employees Pulling a Rope

They'll then be tasked with returning to the rope and reshaping it into a square rather than a circle.

22. Free Time

This simple and quick activity allows everyone to talk about what they do in their free time outside of work.

Team Discussing Free Time

You'll find that you learn a lot you didn't know about your team and that everyone starts to understand each other better and trust each other more as they learn more about their coworkers' non-work life.

23. Take Lunch Together

No, this isn't the name of a game– the idea is just to eat together sometimes rather than spend break time apart.

Team Taking Lunch Together

Research suggests that eating together can help to boost trust and cooperation, so taking the time to break bread is an idea that shouldn't be overlooked.

24. Food Preparation

Speaking of the value of eating together as a team, you might also consider having your team take a cooking class together.

Team Taking a Cooking Class

Not only will they benefit from the teamwork of preparing a meal together, but they'll also be able to spend some quality time together afterward enjoying their creation!

25. Show and Tell

You might remember this one from grade school, but it never goes out of style.

Workplace Show and Tell

Consider having each member take turns sharing an object that is meaningful to them and explaining why at the start of your weekly meetings.

Tips For Trust Building in the Workplace

Building trust in the workplace is always a good idea, but there are a few things you can do to make sure the activity goes as smoothly as possible.

Team Trust Building Activity

You'll want to make sure you:

  • Give your team a head's up before the activity, so they don't feel like it's sprung on them out of nowhere.
  • Find a suitable location that fits the nature of the activity.
  • Provide food and drink for your employees to help take the trust-building activity to the next level.
  • Inform your managers or company leadership if you plan to invest a full day on trust-building activities.

In addition to engaging in these types of activities, there are many other ways you can promote a culture of trust, including:

  • Be honest when communicating with your employees.
  • Always be transparent with your team and promote a culture of transparency.
  • Reward and recognize success in your organization.
  • Provide opportunities for your employees to network with other employees and leaders in the organization.

Team Building Activities That Build Trust and Improve Collaboration

Any successful team-building activity will help to build trust among your employees, and your commitment to helping them work together better will increase their trust in company leadership.

Workplace Team Building

If you're looking for a genuinely unique trust-building activity that will help your employees improve their ability to work together as a team, HRDQ has numerous experiences that fit the bill perfectly. Whether you want to whisk your team away to the jungle or send them to Mars, you'll find that our catalog of team-building activities offers a means to improve the culture of your team and build trust.

Do you have any questions about these listed trust-building activities or the experiences we offer here at HRDQ? If so, we urge you to drop a comment down below or reach out to us directly, and we'll get back to you within a day or two! We always make it a priority to reply to your comments and questions, and we'd be more than happy to assist you however we can.

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.