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updated: 1/31/2017 9:52 AM

Roll the dice for a sure way to build your team

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By Colette House

The family that plays together stays together, but is it true for companies that do the same? Businesses are putting that theory to test by forgoing traditional team building outings in favor of something more playful that also doles out a healthy dose of friendly competition.

GSH Casino Parties provides the equipment, games such as poker and Blackjack, and dealers necessary to throw a Vegas-inspired team building experience, either on-site or at another location. Girard Hendelman, owner of GSH Casino Parties, said companywide poker tournaments are one type of team-building experience they often provide. At these events, all employees are entered into the tournament and play poker for about one hour before people start getting eliminated. While it's common for players to leave after they've lost at traditional poker tournaments, Hendelman said employees tend to stay until the end at team-building events to cheer on their co-workers and friends. Receiving extra prizes if employees beat the CEO, president or manager is added incentive to play the game.

"The president, CEO, the bosses, put a bounty on them, so what that means is if you knock them out [of the tournament] you get extra special prizes or recognition," said Hendelman.

Employers focused on teaching employees how to make joint decisions, delegate tasks and play to one another's strengths might choose a different type of party -- one that focuses more on employees working together to win prizes.

Hendelman said companies divide their employees into small teams and give each team chips worth $10,000 in fake money. Once play begins, it's up to the teams to designate a captain, decide how they'll use their chips, who will play which game, and determine an overall strategy to win the event.

"If you really want to learn about your employees, actually putting them in teams to work together is a great way to do it," said Hendelman.

Hendelman has also seen organizations use casino parties as an incentive to accomplish company goals prior to the event. Businesses might give each employee $100 in chips in advance of the party date and as employees meet specific goals leading up to the party, they earn more chips to use at the event.

"They're working toward something and instead of starting them with the regular amount of chips -- we usually start people with $500 -- then they can earn chips along the way," said Hendelman. "If they do well at work, they'll get incentivized with this party, plus you are incentivized with extra chips at the event so they can win more raffles tickets and ultimately prizes."

Casino-themed team building events provide a lighthearted atmosphere that fosters interaction among all levels of an organization. There's more at stake when the team could win or lose and Hendelman said he sees employees play more carefully and thoughtfully when they're put into teams.

"On the leadership side you get to see how your employees interact with one another. You get to learn about them and hopefully it builds camaraderie with each other outside of the work space," said Hendelman. "From the employee side, it's a fun and different kind of activity."

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