When we think about Team Building Exercises, what comes to mind are trust-falls, questionable away days and an overwhelming sense of awkwardness. These activities have such a reputation for being boring, pointless, and even embarrassing, that many businesses have dispensed with them altogether.

Indeed, The Telegraph even went so far as to call team-building “frivolous”, after a survey conducted by YouGov and Vodafone UK in 2012 found that it left employees just “feeling more awkward.” But team building is more important than many seem to realise.

A good team building exercise can improve the relationships between co-workers, create cohesiveness between members that can encourage interdepartmental development, and even teach staff valuable new skills for their daily work.

Team building is an important investment for an improved work culture, if it’s done properly. So how should you go about modern team building in your business?

It pays to keep them happy

Because a good work culture is vital to the modern day workplace. Companies that nurture their team are attracting more job seekers, and they are helping to make their existing employees more productive. And with employee disengagement costing the US economy $500 billion per year, can your business really afford to neglect its culture?

Team building needn’t be a day-out activity. Have regular meetings to share knowledge, what people have found difficult that week or simply celebrating successes within the business. This kind of sharing culture might seem like “fluffy stuff” but it actually encourages your team to feel comfortable in their environment. Sharing success can also create healthy competition, encouraging team members to strive to be better so they can share their wins.

Team building can be whatever you want it to be.

The pinnacle of your team building day doesn’t have to be the bit where you get to play two truths and a lie for half an hour – to varying levels of cringe. All ‘team building’ really means is that you’re making time for your employees to get to know each other better in a non-work environment or setting.

Food and drink are key ways to create a closeness between people in general. If you are thinking of booking a team-building away day, pick a venue with a restaurant and a bar. Eating as a team will encourage communication. Like it does with family, enjoying nourishment as a group helps to bond people. You can do this in smaller, regular doses within the office environment too by having the bosses buy lunch and getting everyone to eat together.

Your business is better when your team works together

Rhymes aside, the truth is that each person in your company is a part of its continued success. What makes people into great employees is having a strong work culture and a safe eco-system to learn and develop. This is what team building is made to do. As Forbes said, “Despite its reputation for being, well, lame, team building is the most important investment you can make for your people. It builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration.”