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  • Writer's pictureIrina Ketkin

L&D on a budget: team working workshops

It’s not every day that L&D departments get large budgets to do anything their hearts desire. Yet, we still need to help teams work better together. Which begs the question “What do we do when we have limited to no money at all?” For one, we don’t give up.


Here are 7 ideas of what you can do to help teams work better together on a budget.

Table of Contents:



In-House Expertise


You don’t need to hire a super expensive consultant or facilitator to run your sessions. Chances are, as an L&D practitioner, you already have the capabilities needed to design and run a team session. A huge advantage to doing it yourself is that you know the business and the people.


Tips for success:

  • Talk to the team’s manager to establish what a successful outcome will be for them. Ask, “What would you like to be different by the end of the session?”

  • Collect learning needs from as many stakeholders (i.e., team members, their internal and external clients, peers, etc.) and resources (i.e., business goals, strategy, performance metrics, etc.) as possible.

  • Learn as much as possible about the participants. Enquire about their tenure with the company, educational background, and behavioral preferences.


Utilize Free Resources


Do you have a computer, a printer, and some pens and paper? The reality is that’s all you need. There are tons of free training and team-building materials and tools available online. Just do some research, find an acitivity or game that would suit your needs and have a go at it.


Tips for success:



Digital Tools and Apps


“There’s an app for that”. That is doubly true for L&D. There are so many tools and apps you can use to facilitate a team session that come at little or no cost at all. A Slack channel? A virtual whiteboard? An interactive escape room? A virtual meet-up space? Find the ones that could help you.


Tips for success:



Creative Problem-Solving Activities


Sometimes, all it takes to get a team to start working together more effectively is putting them in a situation where they need to solve a common challenge. And you really don’t need any fancy materials, props, or facilities to organize a hackathon or an “idea marathon” where teams work together to solve business problems within a limited time.


Tips for success:

  • Just because these are relatively easy to organize doesn’t mean they will run on fumes. Get some catering going, or, if you have a $0 budget, ask people to bring their own food and snacks. Why not have a small side competition for the best home-cooked snacks?

  • Make sure to do your research into a real problem. Otherwise, it will feel like a “tick-of-a-box” exercise without any real-world consequences.



Community Engagement

Chances are your local community already has tons of opportunities that you can get involved in. And again, nothing rallies the troops better than working towards a common goal. Maybe you can go to the local animal shelter and help by taking some doggos out for a walk. Or join forces with Habitat for Humanity and help build a house. Or help with a food drive for low-income families in the area.


Tips for success:

  • It is best if the community activity you decide to engage with aligns with your business’s values. For example, it would make sense for a chemical factory to get involved in local park or highway cleaning initiatives.

  • Check to see what local businesses might be interested in partnering with you. They can do it as mentors, coaches, motivational speakers, or just for networking.    



Case Studies

There are so many stories from around the world of when things worked well and when they didn’t. Why not use those stories as a case study and have the team discuss and collaborate on a solution?


Tips for success:

  • Find case studies related to topics that are relevant to the team members. It doesn’t have to be from the same industry, but they need to be able to relate to the main character(s).  

  • It would be great to get real-world case studies and, after the discussion, share with the group what happened in reality. But that may not always be available. So it’s ok to make up your own case study or story – draw inspiration from your experience but modify it to fit your audience.



Role-playing Scenarios


There are very few things that simultaneously make grown-ups roll their eyes and still have tons of fun. Role plays usually fall in that category. Joke aside, though, role plays can be invaluable in helping teams solve a conflict, find their preferred communication style and methods or discover their team identity. And the good news – it doesn’t cost a thing to find appropriate role plays online or create ones yourself.


Tips for success:

  • Your role-play scenarios need to be relevant and tailored to the participants’ specific roles and challenges yet not hit too close to home.

  • Provide very clear instructions, time limits and ground rules for the activity. This should help you create a smooth and constructive experience for everyone.

  • The most important thing about a role play is the reflection after the fact. Help people think things through by asking them powerful and thought-provoking questions.




You may not have Google’s or Amazon’s L&D budgets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help your teams work better together. The secret is being resourceful, innovative, and open to new experiences and ideas. But most of all – to have fun!


Did we miss anything on our list? Let us know in the comments down below.


Happy team-building!


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