Scavenger hunts are fast-paced and unique ways to engage an adult workplace team and encourage them to build strong, meaningful connections. They combine friendly competition, socialization, and exercise, making them a great quick team building activity.
To play, create a list of objects that you want your team to collect. If you’re playing in the office with an in-person team, make sure you include lists of objects found in an office. If you’re playing with a remote team, these can be household objects. You can play this game with single player teams, or you can split your employees into smaller teams and give them 2 to 5 minutes to collect all the objects. The first team, or single player, back is crowned the winner. Play as many rounds as you like, ensuring that each round requires your team to collect different objects.
Now you know how to play a scavenger hunt, you may be wondering how to make it fun and offer a motivating incentive. You may wonder whether you should award prizes to scavenger hunt winners, and what types of prizes are acceptable. Fear not, this article summarizes all the best prize ideas for a scavenger hunt, including ones suitable for any budget.
Why Scavenger Hunt Prizes Are Important
Finding exciting ways to engage your team is incredibly important, with 73% of employees surveyed in a recent study wishing that their company invested more in team building.
Scavenger hunts are great team building activities that are designed to engage and motivate a workplace team. However, scavenger hunts by themselves do not always cut it as effective team building activities. To get the most out of scavenger hunts, offering prizes can be very important. Here are three reasons why:
Reason #1 – Communication
Scavenger hunts alone are incredibly useful for promoting effective workplace communication because employees, who wouldn’t normally work together, form a team where they are required to share information and trust each other.
Offering prizes further encourages effective workplace communication because they provide a team with the motivation to complete the scavenger hunt. Prizes also often involve spending time together as a team, which further enhances communication. Effective workplace communication is important because it generates 4.5 times higher talent retention. This means workplaces are spending less money and energy on recruiting new talent and, as a result, have more engagement and productivity.
Reason #2 – Promotes problem-solving
Good problem-solving skills allow employees, of any level, to think of new ideas and come up with better ways of doing things. A workplace team armed with problem-solvers is a workplace team that can face and overcome all types of challenges, work efficiently, and has a smooth operation.
Scavenger hunts foster problem-solving skills by encouraging employees to think outside the box and use their brains to find objects within a time frame. Employees might not know exactly what they’re looking for or where to find it, but they can use their problem-solving skills to find the place where it is most likely to be. The added bonus of prizes encourages team members to use their problem-solving skills better than ever to become winners!
Reason #3 Leadership
Every team needs a strong leader. Without one, turnover is high, productivity is low and cohesion is none existent. Scavenger hunts are great ways to highlight natural leaders. They also allow team members to have the opportunity to delegate tasks and help others, which can enhance their leadership skills. By including prizes, leaders will have a goal to work towards and motivate their team to meet.
Free Scavenger Hunt Prize Ideas for the Office
Less is often more, meaning that you don’t always want to overdo office Scavenger hunts by offering huge prizes. Scavenger hunts can be played on a budget because prizes that cost absolutely nothing can still be engaging and motivating.
1. Create a wall of fame
Creating a wall of fame is a completely free adult scavenger hunt prize idea. All you need is some post-it notes and a blank wall. Every time you play a scavenger hunt with your team (yes, we suggest playing them once a month), add a post-it note to the wall of fame with the winning team’s name on it. To make this extra special, you could even get the winning team to add an inspirational quote.
2. Send the winners an inspirational quote
Inspirational quotes such as “knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch” are perfect for inspiring and motivating a group of people. After a scavenger hunt, send the winning player or team of players an inspirational quote over an email. To close the email off, reiterate how well they did and how they can apply their new communication and problem-solving skills to their work life.
3. Give a LinkedIn shout out
Post a picture and fun caption of whichever player or team wins the scavenger hunt on LinkedIn. LinkedIn shout-outs are great team prize ideas for scavenger hunts because not only do they make your winning players feel noticed and accomplished, but they also show the rest of the world that your organization is invested in team building, creating a strong company culture, and celebrating success.
4. A week of longer lunch breaks
For the rest of the week, your scavenger hunt winners should receive an extra 20 minutes of lunch break. This additional time costs your business no money, but allows the winners extra time to get important stuff done (e.g., run errands or go to an exercise class) or simply just relax, unwind, and reduce burnout.
5. Meeting with an expert in another team
As a prize, arrange a 30-minute meeting for the winners with an expert in another team of their choice (diary dependent!). This scavenger hunt prize idea for adults helps with knowledge sharing within your organization, which is important because sharing knowledge offers a competitive advantage by encouraging increased communication, collaboration, innovation, and productivity.
On top of this, a recent study from McKinsey found that employees spend 20% of their working week just searching for information to complete their daily tasks. Proper knowledge sharing in workplace teams means that information is shared and that 20% of the working week can be spent on more productive tasks.
Affordable Prize Ideas for Work Scavenger Hunt
With a bit of a budget, you can offer slightly different gifts compared to having no budget at all! Below are the 9 best affordable scavenger hunt prize ideas:
1. Winning sweets
Everyone, no matter their age, loves a sweet treat. From Hershey’s bars to Nerds, candy can put a smile on just about anyone’s face. We love this prize as you can make it as expensive as you like. If you feel like splashing the cash, you can buy your winners lots of sweets. Whereas on a smaller budget, you can reign it in and give the winners a singular chocolate treat.
2. A thoughtful gift voucher
Receiving a voucher for your favorite coffee or clothes shop is a great reward that feels useful and thoughtful. Suitable for any budget, reward your winning player (or team) with a gift voucher that is loaded with anything from $5 to $100.
3. A winning team trophy
When you play your first scavenger hunt game, invest a little money in getting a trophy that states ‘Best Scavenger Hunt Team’ made. Give this trophy to the winning team each time and allow them to keep it until the next game. We think this team prize idea for scavenger hunts works best when your teams are playing with others in their department. This way, every time the game is played a whole department gets to keep the prize and see it every day.
4. Plant a tree in the name of the winning team
If you have access to green space, you could plant a tree for the winning team. This scavenger hunt prize idea is also environmentally minded, as planting trees helps combat global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
5. Charitable donation
Making a charitable donation to the winner’s charity of choice is a great way to make a difference and to make your employees feel valued, respected, and listened to. Simply pick an amount and donate it to the chosen charity.
6. Company merchandise
Branded merchandise is a fantastic way to get your brand shown in public, and it’s a great prize for a scavenger hunt! We’re not just talking about hoodies, t-shirts, and beanie hats. Great company merch also includes pens, calculators, and weekly planners/diaries.
7. House or desk plants
Spruce up your office (or your remote team’s home office) with a bit of color by giving all winning team members a house plant they can add to their desks. These can be bought in bulk, making them cost-efficient scavenger hunt prizes.
8. Lunchtime delivery
If you carry out your scavenger hunt right before lunch, then a great end of scavenger hunt prize idea is to give the winning team their lunch paid for by the company. Set a budget of around $15 per person, and let them order whatever they want. Top tip: this also helps team collaboration as they must work together to pick a restaurant they all want to order from.
9. Year app subscription
Give your team member the prize of expanding their knowledge or making their lives easier by awarding the winning team members with a year-long subscription to their favorite app.
10. Home spa package
46% of HR leaders say that employee burnout is responsible for high workforce turnover. Taking care of ourselves/our employees is more important than ever before. So, the winning team can be sent a care package as their prize. The self-care spa package can include things such as face masks, candles, sleep spray, and anything else to help them unwind.
Big Scavenger Hunt Prizes for Adults
If you really want to WOW your team, you can play a scavenger hunt that leads to huge prizes! If you have the budget, here are 9 scavenger hunt prize ideas that are guaranteed to motivate your team:
1. Team social
Taking the winning team, for drinks and dinner is a great way to encourage teams to unwind and relax with each other. Alternatively, if playing a scavenger hunt as a single player, the winner can take the rest of their workplace team out for dinner and drinks.
2. Tickets to the next sports team game
Whether playing as a team or as an individual, you can give your employees an amazing prize by giving them tickets to the local next sports games. Whether that is ice hockey or basketball, it’s a prize that is guaranteed to get your team excited.
Suitable for the real adrenaline junkies in your team, if your budget allows it then a skydive is an excellent scavenger hunt prize. It pushes your team outside of their comfort zone and will encourage them to trust and communicate with others.
4. Sports car day
Splash the cash and give your winners a prize that they will never forget. Whether you’re letting them drive a Ferrari or a Porsche, this day out will leave them feeling excited and appreciated. All you need to do is find a sports car place near you and book for your winner, or winning team, to drive the car of their dreams.
5. Afternoon tea at a fancy restaurant
Slightly less hair-raising than the above two options, a great team prize for a scavenger hunt is to book afternoon tea in a high-end restaurant for the winners. This prize also allows team members to hang out away from work, meaning they will be more relaxed and will hopefully learn to trust each other and connect on a deeper level.
6. Plan an escape room
As a team building activity itself, escape rooms are great immersive and thrilling prizes for scavenger hunt winners. Whether your team is virtual or in person, the Team Building Hub has plenty of fun ways to get your team working collaboratively, yet having fun. From a prison heist to adult games shows, this is an unforgettable experience for the winning team and will leave that team stronger and better connected than ever before.
7. Give them the rest of the afternoon off
Although this sounds inexpensive, it can become costly as you will be having to pay employees when they are not contributing anything to the business. However, it is also incredibly beneficial as a prize because it helps to reduce burnout and allows employees to relax. To make this work, play your scavenger hunt in the early afternoon and then give the winning team the rest of the afternoon off, which is likely to only be a couple of hours anyway.
8. A career planning session with an expert
To make your scavenger hunt prize work-related, you could offer your winners a career development session with an expert in their field. This session, which can take place over Zoom, can help your employees find their feet in their careers and your team.
9. Local theme park visit
As the perfect autumn and Halloween scavenger hunt prize idea, you could take your winning team to a theme park with a spooky atmosphere. Designed to get their heart racing, your scavenger hunt winners can bond and build trusting connections as they face their fear of heights, speed, and all things scary!
Considerations for Scavenger Hunt Prizes
Like all team-building activities, scavenger hunts are not without some considerations. Although they are fantastic ways of building communication, developing problem-solving, and highlighting leaders, there is something that needs to be considered.
For example, you need to consider accessibility. If you have any disabled or injured team members, you need to consider how they can join in the scavenger hunt. Perhaps, you could add extra time for wheelchair users to gather all the objects (making sure that everything can be reached by wheelchair), or you could get other team members to do the running and those who cannot walk, for whatever reason, to do the instructing.
You also need to consider the risks involved with naming winners. Although for many, friendly competition is healthy and motivating, it can be uninspiring and worrying for others. To rule out making people feel demotivated and negative there are many things you can do, such as:
- Playing best out of 3 games. This gives teams plenty of chances to win and ensures that one team doesn’t dominate the whole game.
- Offering prizes for second and third place (or even giving everyone a prize for taking part!)
- Carefully splitting the teams so that not all the competitive players are on one team
- Presenting the game in a way that isn’t focused purely on winning
- Playing the scavenger hunt games often and mixing the teams up so that everyone has a fair chance of winning.
That’s a wrap on the 24 best prize ideas for scavenger hunts. Whether you play scavenger hunts in person or virtually, they are excellent tools to improve problem-solving, communication, and leadership.
What makes scavenger hunts so exciting is that a host of fun prizes can be offered to motivate and inspire. From free LinkedIn shoutouts to expensive days out at a theme park, there is a scavenger hunt prize idea for adults suitable for every budget and team size.
Heather Harper has a Masters in Occupational Psychological from the University of Manchester. She currently works as an editorial writer specializing in organizational psychology – helping teams work better together.