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How to Foster a Startup Culture at Any Organization with Creative Team Building

Incorporating team building as part of your corporate culture may seem like an obvious step in strengthening your business overall, but it is often neglected. In fast-paced, high-energy environments such as the insurance and insurtech industries, investing in your employees through professional development and team-building activities can go a long way in promoting success.


In a competitive market, attracting the right people for your team can be a challenge, as can maintaining a motivated team. Startup tech businesses have become known for their successful ability to attract and maintain talented employees through a culture that prioritizes open communication, collaboration team building and individual growth. This “startup culture” focuses on nurturing a strong team through tools and activities that allow employees to bond, feel heard and continue learning within their role.


When it comes to attracting talent, “startup culture” is the expectation these days. Prospective employees, especially recent graduates and millennials, place a great deal of importance on a fun, inclusive, and social work environment. They seek companies with a “startup culture” - modern vibrant offices, open-plan workspaces, flexible schedules, and most importantly, a collaborative environment.


Organizations of any size can borrow elements of “startup culture” to strengthen their own team. Here are some benefits of creative team building and a startup atmosphere:

Boosting Employee Morale

Creative team building breaks the monotony of spending the day at the office working on insurance claims or underwriting files. Regular team-building activities provide an opportunity to get out, have fun and relax, while also encouraging collaboration and team bonding. They help eliminate employee burnout, improve productivity and increase retention.


Team-building activities usually revolve around the completion of tasks and problem-solving.  (Read on for some creative examples.) Completing these tasks boosts employees’ confidence and trust in their unique abilities. Confidence is a major source of motivation that is transferred to the workplace. Creative team building, therefore, contributes to a positive corporate culture that boosts employee morale.

Improving Productivity

Poor performance is often seen as being linked to employees’ incompetence or lack of care, but it could instead be a result of poor communication and lack of confidence. Creative team-building activities present the opportunity to overcome communication barriers and foster interaction and collaboration among staff. Improved communication enhances productivity as it encourages employees to seek second opinions and ask for help.

Employee Retention and Happiness

All employees want to feel valued and contribute to meaningful work. They also want enjoyable workspaces where they are heard, not spaces they can't wait to get away from.

One-third of our lives are spent at work. Many people are surrounded by their colleagues more often than their friends and family. A strong corporate culture and positive team dynamic is key to creating a favorable working environment employees want to stay in. 


Creative team building can help in retaining top talent, reducing employee turnover, and promoting employee happiness.

Creative Team-Building Ideas

There are a number of different team-building activities to choose from, depending on budget, team size and team dynamics. Here are a few activity ideas that my team loved:


  • Escape rooms: employees in teams collaborate on cracking codes and solving mysteries. This is an excellent way to boost communication, encourage problem-solving, and create comradery.
  • Seasonal office parties and personal celebrations: what better way to create a sense of family and bring employees and management together? Fun activities provide a lot of needed laughs. For example, we had a foosball tournament in the office.  Bosses and workers alike can don goofy hats and have a good time.
  • Recreational sports and tournaments: friendly competition and teamwork are a great way to create friendships and lasting bonds among teams. For instance, we had a zip line adventure at a nearby camp. 


At the end of the day, employees want to feel valued, challenged and respected. While catered meals and an open office are appealing, it’s open communication, growth potential and strong team dynamics that keep good employees. Fostering a team-oriented environment through regular team-building exercises and activities is one step any organization can take to improving company morale.

Mike de Waal is president and founder of Ottawa-based Global IQX (, a leading software provider of web-based sales and service solutions to employee benefits insurers. He has deep experience in both software development and business management skills. Early in his career, he worked as a computer programmer and then went on to become a financial planner and a benefits consultant before becoming a tech entrepreneur. He can be reached at



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