Corporate challenges are an opportunity to get your team together, head out of the office and develop new skills that can generate positive outcomes for the business.

But does that make them so very different from regular staff training days? Read on to discover how corporate challenges can provide seven valuable benefits for your people – and your company – that you may not have considered.

1. Create a true team spirit

Today’s workplaces are highly interdependent and teamwork plays a pivotal role in business success. The trouble is, in a large workplace it can be difficult for employees to view themselves as part of the bigger team. Sure, it’s great that your finance people work as a cohesive unit. But how well do they interact with, say, the IT department?

Running a corporate challenge that sees people from different departments thrown in together can break down invisible barriers to improve collaboration and team spirit. Consider a company-wide soccer match with mixed teams made up of employees from different departments.

2. Heighten collaboration

Chances are, your employees have specialist skills. In theory, this diversity should allow for an exciting cross-pollination of new ideas. But in practice it doesn’t always happen. A study reported in the Harvard Business Review for instance, found employees tend to collaborate better with colleagues who they regard as similar to themselves.

Asking employees from diverse backgrounds to work together to solve a particular problem or complete a team activity can highlight that colleagues with very different skill sets can in reality form a united team of outstanding all-rounders, who together, have the combined skills to tackle any challenge. Try an against-the-clock trivia challenge with teams comprised of employees from a variety of functional areas. It’s a fun way for employees to discover shared knowledge and interests – and get to know the person behind the professional.

3. Highlight leadership ability

All teams need a leader, and a corporate challenge can identify employees who are able to galvanise colleagues to achieve results as well as helping others discover their own untapped leadership traits.

Try a high-energy Amazing Race that sees teams follow clues to find various locations in your area – ask for a group selfie outside certain landmarks as evidence of their success. Make the final destination somewhere you can all join up for lunch or dinner.  In the meantime, observe the natural team leaders who emerge – it could be those employees you’ve overlooked for future leadership potential.

4. Nurture new skills

Employee training programs (especially the technical ones) are often directly linked to workplace roles. However, a corporate challenge can be a useful way to foster soft skills like problem solving and creative thinking, which are valuable in the workplace, yet sometimes difficult to nurture in a formal training environment.

Consider taking your team to an ‘escape room’ – not only can it enhance problem solving skills and communication, your team will also need to work together to achieve success.

5. Build trust

The 2015 IHG Workplace Trends Report says many companies focus on the three ‘C’s of organisational wealth: financial capital, intellectual capital and human capital. But according to the report, today’s workplace calls for a fourth ‘C’ – trust capital.

Certainly, trust can be instrumental in encouraging communication and the willingness to propose new ideas. Fostering trust also provides measurable benefits for businesses. The Building Workplace Trust report from Interactive Associates confirms that companies where a high degree of trust exists between business leaders and employees significantly outperform other organisations across a range of core goals including revenue growth and customer retention.

A variety of corporate challenges are specifically designed to build trust – both between peers and across colleagues of various levels of seniority. Try a game called Control Tower where one member of a group is blindfolded and guided through an obstacle course by a partner. When they successfully navigate the course, swap roles, alter the course, and repeat the process – it’s a great corporate challenge to foster trust.

6. Bring fun back to the workplace

Fostering fun in the workplace lowers stress and creates an environment more conducive to creative thinking and a willingness to suggest innovations.

If the fun factor is missing from your workplace, a corporate challenge can be the effective ice breaker your team needs. An office bake-off where different teams prepare their favourite dishes, a cake day that raises money for charity, or taking the team offsite for a picnic lunch in a local park can reignite a sense of fun in an otherwise high stress work environment.

7. Cultivate camaraderie

Corporate challenges are extremely effective at creating foundations for new rapports and strengthening existing acquaintances. The pay-off is employees with improved confidence in their ability to explore new ideas with someone they’re comfortable receiving feedback from, and more broadly, building greater collaboration.

Consider adopting charitable causes nominated by employees. Challenge your people to come up with innovative ways to make a difference – either through a variety of fundraising activities or by giving up their time to take participate in community events. In addition to fostering friendships, your organisation will be giving back to the community, and that’s a plus for corporate social responsibility.

Organising a corporate challenge can lead to great rewards

The key to a successful corporate challenge is inclusion – make sure each employee is capable of rising to the challenge and will take something positive from the experience. Know what you’re aiming to achieve in order to tailor the challenge to clear goals, and ask for feedback on a timely basis to be sure your company is reaping all the rewards that investing in a corporate challenge can provide.