This is the real key to getting your office team to bond

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While team-bonding sessions can often be viewed as redundant, and even sometimes, like a chore to some, it’s a useful mechanism to get to know your employees outside of their desk. Forget the corny ice breakers and other exercises that create more awkwardness than connection — the way to connect with employees is through free food and sometimes booze, according to a new study.

In a survey of 1,000 current employees, NuLab found that creating a comfortable company culture through team-bonding activities can draw in the most participation food is involved. Eighty-eight percent of participants said they have attended at least one food-related team activity, whether it’s potlucks or team lunches.

Holiday events, which often involve food, were also popular as more than 75% said they’ve attended their company’s festive parties at least once, while more than half even coughed up money for gift exchanges.

Break out the booze

While secret Santa’s might bring some holiday cheer to the cubicles, the way to get to your employee’s heart is with alcohol. Nearly 75% said they enjoyed work-sponsored events when alcohol was involved, the highest mark in data compiled in the study. That number was especially true with Millennials, with 62% reporting they felt alcohol was fine at events, while more than 50% of Generation Xers echoed the same.

Although more than half of all respondents said they were comfortable with alcohol at work parties, that number wasn’t reflected with Baby Boomers. Just 39% of Baby Boomers in the study felt booze was appropriate at work-sponsored events.

How often should work-related activities occur?

While participation during team-bonding sessions can be discouraging at times, employers need to find the sweet spot. The majority — 34% — said they wanted mostly team-bonding activities, which is less frequent compared to what employers are offering, according to respondents. Participants said that 37% of companies only offer work-bonding events every quarter.

The most enjoyable team-bonding activities included sports-related events like March Madness brackets or team sports (73%) and holiday events (71%), while events like ice breakers, workshops, and personality traits were found the least enjoyable. When it comes to building office camaraderie, participants said volunteer days, company retreats, and food-related exercises were keys in building a bonding experience.

The most enjoyable activities by generation were brain teasers (Baby Boomers), sports-related activities (Generation X), and work-sponsored events with alcohol (Millennials).

What can work activities do for employees?

Team bonding sessions can be extremely beneficial for employees, especially when developing relationships with colleagues. More than 95% of respondents said they felt team bonding had a positive impact on their relationship with coworkers and helped collaboration while opening dialogue that wasn’t present before. 94 percent also said it bettered their relationship with their employer and even helped reduce work-related stress (90%).