Periodic team-building exercises can go a long way toward cultivating team morale and developing employees’ interpersonal skills and other leadership abilities. Both efforts are essential to retaining top performers in today’s challenging hiring environment.

Beyond tried-and-true extracurricular activities — such as a group outing to a local sporting event — aim for team-building exercises that promote staff discussion about work-related topics in a fun and memorable way. Here are three creative ideas.

1. Accounting game show

By using a popular game show format, such as “Jeopardy,” you can share information and training messages in an engaging format.

Split the department into teams, and try to stick to content employees can use in their everyday work. For a more informal type of team-building exercise, include interesting facts about employees (with their permission of course), especially positive stories related to their finance careers or accomplishments. Have some fun with your team building exercises.

2. Idea-sharing lunches

A casual staff lunch — featuring good food — can serve as a general catch-up session as well as a platform for creative conversation. If your budget allows, have a caterer handle the food and beverage presentation and cleanup. If not, throw a fun potluck lunch — perhaps featuring a particular theme or cuisine.

These informal gatherings can be particularly valuable during intense work periods, such as tax season or before the year-end close. In addition to informal idea sharing, have knowledgeable staff briefly share insights on relevant topics such as finance and tax law updates. Just be sure to include time for lighthearted discussion, as well.

3. A company retreat

An off-site event mixed with brainstorming or idea forums, as well as personal free time and group activities, can help inspire your team and arm them with fresh ideas to take back to the office.

For a smaller group, consider renting a large cabin in a state or national park. The milieu will provide for physical outlets like hiking or just peacefully taking in nature, which are great scenarios for open conversations.

For larger teams with a bigger budget for retreats, consider subsidizing all or part of employees’ enrollment fees or travel costs. And don’t make the retreat all about work: Be sure to plan for a team dinner or another group activity — such as taking in a local theater production or an art exhibit.

Have a vision

No matter what type of team-building exercises you choose for your staff, be sure to outline clear goals that you want to achieve through these activities. Consider involving employees in the planning process, as well; allowing them to provide input and add their personal touch can help them feel more invested.

Over time, you’ll discover which strategies resonate best with your employees. You can then schedule team-building exercises on a regular basis to maintain a more content and productive accounting and finance staff. These activities will become a part of your office culture, and can help to promote retention.