Teambuilding: A smart investment or folly on a jolly?

Team Building: A smart investment or folly on a jolly?

As a company providing teambuilding to businesses and sports teams, the past 5 years has been very challenging.  It was no surprise that when the recession came and smacked us all in the face, unemployment soared and emigration reached highs not seen in decades that spending on social and team building outings evaporated.

Over the past year the market has seen some notable recovery across both teambuilding markets, Corporate and Sports Teams.  This is a sign that businesses and clubs are returning to profit and can justify spending on what is often seen as a nicety.  The question we ask ourselves however is why is it considered a nicety? Surely building an effective, efficient and motivated team is a necessity for any business or club.


The answer to this may lay in the fact that the phrase team building is now applied to almost anything from artisan cookery classes to Zorbing.  On the face of it, many of these activities bring groups together, challenge them to work as a ‘team’ and generate some laughs, but is this team building and more importantly is it a good investment?

When I think of team building I take a much more focused approach which began 15 years ago in a classroom in the west of Ireland, where I studied for a degree in Outdoor Education.  During my studies I learned to analyse the needs of an individual or team and develop training methods to alleviate weaknesses and enhance strengths, this approach of customising programs is time consuming to develop, but ultimately much more effective.

Team building front page

I have continued this approach with the development of UL Sport Team Building, which was launched in early 2014 and although on the cover it looks as though we provide standard packages for all teams, you have to look under the bonnet for the detail.  It is in the customised delivery where you will find the value and we believe this sets us apart from other companies providing team building programs.

Below are 5 points which I feel are crucial to picking the correct Team building package and company to work with.

  1. What is the primary goal?

What do you hope to get from the investment; this is an important starting point and should be discussed with the company providing the activity.  If you are not sure what you want to get from the activity the provider should seek to understand your reasons and design a program around your team’s needs.

Consider the following as a good starting point, are you seeking team building for a new team to help the employees gain a better understanding of their roles within the team and establish trust and clear channels of communication?  Or do you require Team Coaching for an existing team? In the latter  case, a team is coached to improve on areas of weakness, how to capitalise on strengths and improve overall effectiveness and efficiency.

  1. Do the Employees want to attend and do they know why the company is sending them?

In the past I have come up against resistance and resentment when delivering programs, this is a challenging situation to be in but through facilitated discussion it has often proved that employees are frustrated or confused at being sent away from the office on what they perceive as a pointless exercise.  Prior to any activity with us, we ask that all employees are fully informed on where they are going and why the company is investing in the training.

  1. How will I measure ROI?

We encourage companies to consider potential return from the training; for example increased productivity through enhanced motivation or more efficient communication may increase output or in social terms, engaging more positively with colleagues will lead to a happier workforce.  Whatever you choose to measure it is important that you have a gauge pre activity as a base line which can be compared and measured against.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, will the activity provider be able to generate the change required to see a ROI.

  1. What are the opportunity costs?

Taking a group of employees away from the office for a day or even a few hours, will in the short term result in a drop in productivity.  If the lost time plus the cost of the outing cannot be justified by the potential ROI then perhaps it should not be undertaken.

  1. How is climbing a wooden pole relevant to our employees’ productivity?

The word we use for this is Transferability, how does an employee relate the experience of swinging from trees or solving a puzzle in a field back to the workplace.  The key to this is in good program design, clear goals and constructive debriefing.  It is during debriefs that the outcomes are re-emphasised and related back to the workplace encouraging a transfer of new skills to other situations which will arise in the workplace.


If you feel your team is missing something or you want to look at new ways to improve performance to stay ahead of the competition,  I would be delighted to talk to you and help find the optimum solution to take your team to the next level.



Mike Jones

Founder UL Sport Teambuilding

Operation Manager UL Sport Adventure Centre


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T  061-376622


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