High 5 TeamBuilding Puts the “Fun” in Work Function
by Stephanie Sparks
Warning: Team building facilitation should only be handled by professionals. Deviating from this advice may lead to staff being “volun-told” to participate in awkward activities that alienate them from overly enthusiastic managers. A successful group activity combines lighthearted fun and interaction to promote productivity. For High 5 TeamBuilding partners Robin Hardin and Glenn Orfino, that’s all in a day’s work.
When Hardin started a team-building business in Edmonton several years ago, she consistently received requests from clients asking for advice on activities to do in meetings. In her research, she made numerous discoveries that would better benefit her clients if the products could be found in one online store. The research took a few years before Hardin was ready to put her findings online. In March 2009 Orfino partnered with her as Hardin merged her previous company into High 5 and launched high5teambuilding.com in May 2009.
“Our whole thing in finding the products was we wanted things that were unique and would actually promote people to interact and laugh,” explains Hardin.
Products High 5 has found include giant chess sets, obstacle courses, punching bags and limbo sticks – childlike activities for the working age set. All games sold through the website keep participants on an even playing field, so employees with more athletic prowess don’t have the advantage. High 5 stocks most of the products, but larger items are shipped from suppliers directly to clients.
Because companies are conscious of budgets, prices on the website include shipping costs, so a client with a $500 budget doesn’t click to the checkout stage to learn there is a $50 shipping fee on top of the $500 worth of activities.
Another feature of High 5 is that Hardin and Orfino are available to facilitate activities at conferences, seminars, fundraisers, training sessions and social events. The company works with 35 activity coordinators on a contractual basis to assist Hardin and Orfino.
People may typically think team-building activities are meant for office workers, but Hardin clarifies that about half of High 5’s clients are blue-collar, industrial workers and they are finding team-building activities useful.
But no matter what the work environment, there is always one participant unhappy about being there. Hardin says the fun challenge is changing that negative attitude. “I always find that by the end of it, they’re the ones who come up and say, ‘Thank you, that was so much fun’.”
High 5’s goal is to get co-workers laughing, rejuvenated and recharged. Nothing “touchy-feely” where participants are asked to analyze what they got out of the exercise.
“What we’re finding is that employees are really stressed,” she says. With extra hours, layoffs and cutbacks, many companies are not financially able to offer bonuses, “but we’re finding that if they have interactive breaks with their staff, that really has a huge benefit for bonding the team and getting the company more cohesive.”