Last updated June 30, 2024

If you are looking for decision-making activities for employees to use in training and workshops, here are 12 activities that you can use.

Free Decision-making activities for employees

Benefits of Team Decision-Making Activities

Decision-making is a key skill for employees to have.

It is particularly important for leaders to be good at decision-making, but this is a precious skill for team members as well, given that many decisions at work can be made in groups, with the involvement of the whole team.

Decision-making involves examining different options (based on a set of criteria) and choosing the best option, i.e. the option that should attain the results or objectives you (or the organization) want to achieve.

If you need to train employees on decision-making skills, you will want to deliver a session that is interactive and interesting for them.

Using decision-making training activities, therefore, is essential if you want to make the workshop interesting and make sure that your participants take in and remember the ideas you want to transmit.

Useful decision-making activities that can add value to your training sessions include exercises that help your participants reflect on how to:

  • Become aware of their biases and put them aside (as this is essential to make informed decisions)
  • See situations from different perspectives
  • Set decision criteria
  • Compare options against each other
  • Create open and effective communication flows
  • Prioritize
  • Listen to others with respect and an open mind (this is especially important for making decisions as a team)

You can use the decision-making activities for employees listed in this post during your workshops and training sessions, to help your participants reflect on these topics.

12 Decision-Making Activities for Employees

1. Thinking Hats

Thinking hats training activity

This is a good activity to encourage your participants to think about what different ways of thinking can be involved in decision-making.

Rules and How to Play

Split your participants into groups of 3 to 6 people.

Ask each team to assign each person a figurative hat, each of which will be of a different colour.

There are six different colours of hats, each corresponding to a different way of thinking:

  • Red – the red hat corresponds to feelings and emotions
  • Yellow – this is the colour of sunshine, so it corresponds to a positive attitude that highlights the benefits of each option.
  • Black – the black hat represents critical thinking, risk analysis and evaluating pros and cons.
  • White – this hat represents considering factual information
  • Green – this colour represents creativity and considering unusual alternatives
  • Blue – the blue hat represents seeing the big picture, taking everything in and connecting the dots

Give each group a problem to discuss, with a set of alternative solutions. This can be something they are dealing with at work, or a made-up scenario that you will have prepared.

Each person in the group will discuss the options based on the perspective represented by their hat colour.

Give participants 20 minutes to discuss (or more if the problem is complex and you have time).

Number of Participants

At least 3.

Duration

30 minutes to 1 hour.

Equipment Needed

A whiteboard or paper to write on.

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

You can use breakout rooms to split the participants into groups.

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

This is a great game to allow your participants to zone in into one thinking mode at a time. They should then be able to assess the pros and cons of each perspective and the benefits of using them all when making a decision.

2. Guess Who

The Guess Who classroom training game

This is a game to be played in teams and it’s a good icebreaker and is one of my favourite decision-making activities for employees.

Rules and How to Play

Split your participants into groups of 3 to 5 people.

Ask each person, in every team, to think about 3 things that relate to them. These can include activities they do, such as skiing or dancing, skills they have (e.g. playing an instrument) or items they own.

Ask each team to compile a list of these items for the whole team and share it with you. As you facilitate the activity, pick one of the items from each team’s list and ask the other teams to guess who the skill, object or activity belongs to.

So, for example, imagine you have three teams that we call A, B and C.

Pick an item from the list that team A shared with you and ask teams B and C which person from team A they think that item belongs to. The people in each team will need to collaborate to give an answer.

Every team gets only one chance to guess who each item relates to. If they give the wrong answer, team A gets a point.

Do the same with the other teams, i.e. ask teams A and C to guess who an item from the list shared by team B relates to and so on.

The team with the most points wins.

Number of Participants

You would want at least 6 participants (2 groups of 3 people each) and up to 20 (i.e., 4 groups of 5 people each).

Duration

Ideally, 10 to 20 minutes.

Equipment Needed

Pen and paper.

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

You can start the activity by separating the groups into breakout rooms for them to chat about what skills, items or activities each person will share.

Each group can then share the list with you electronically, via the message function of the teaching platform or via email.

You then share the list from each group with the other groups and ask the groups to guess who each item on those lists relates to.

At the end, bring the participants back together to reveal the answers and discuss.

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

This game is about deciding who a skill, item or activity relates to.

So, you can invite your participants to reflect on how they came to certain decisions and how they worked together as a team to agree on their answers.

3. Ranking Challenge

Ranking activity challenge

This activity helps employees reflect on how to plan a ranking system for decision-making.

Rules and How to Play

Split your participants into small groups of 3 to 5 people per group.

Give each group a list of items to rank. These can be foods, travel destinations, music genres or anything else you can think of.

The only caveat is that each list should contain items from the same category, so participants can easily compare them. For example, foods with foods, sports with sports and so on.

It is up to you to decide on how many items to add to a list, but I suggest using anything from 5 up to 10 items per list.

Ask each group to rank their items however they want. For example, if there are 5 items on a list, they can rank them from 1 to 5 with 1 being the score for the best option.

They don’t even need to use numbers, as long as they rank the items in order of preference. The key is for them to decide.

Give the participants a time limit, such as 10 minutes, for the activity.

After they finish scoring the items, ask them how they went about scoring them the way they did and why.

Number of Participants

From 3 to 5 per group, up to 6 groups.

Duration

15 to 20 minutes.

Equipment Needed

Pen and paper.

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

You can divide people into groups using breakout rooms.

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

This activity, like other decision-making activities for employees that are done in groups, highlights how teams communicate and interact when making decisions together.

In addition, this activity involves participants choosing decision criteria and prioritizing.

So, you can help the employees reflect by asking them questions such as:

  • What criteria did you use to select the best option?
  • How did you generate those criteria?
  • What ranking system did you use and why?
  • Did you initially compare more than one ranking system before settling on one? If yes, what did you consider to be the benefits and cons of each?

4. Egg Drop

Egg game

This is a fun and strategic team game and in addition to for teaching decision-making skills, it’s also good if you are looking for team building activities or team building exercises.

Rules and How to Play

Split your participants into small groups of 3 to 5 people.

Give them a set of materials to build a structure.

Explain that they will use the materials to build a structure that will allow a raw egg to fall from a certain height without breaking (the height depends on what you have available, it can be from a person’s height, higher if you have a step stool or even from the second floor of a building if you can do so so safely).

Explain that you will place each structure on a hard floor. You will then drop the egg on the structure and, if the structure is strong and soft enough to cushion the fall of the egg so it does not break, the team who built that structure will have succeded.

Take each group to a separate location, so they don’t see what the other groups are doing, and give them some materials to build the structure.

Give each group 15 or 20 minutes to build the structure (depending on how much time you have available).

Test the structures and end the activity.

Number of Participants

Between 6 (two groups of three people each) and 25 (5 groups of 5 people each), to make the game interesting and manageable to run.

Duration

Between 30 minutes (15 minutes of explanation and 15 minutes of activity) and 1 hour if you want to allocate more time for the actual activity and then for discussions.

Equipment Needed

  • Raw eggs (at least one per team plus some spare).
  • Materials needed to build the structure (enough for every team to use). These can include straws, bubble wrap, paper, paper clips, velcro, sellotape, scissors and anything else you can think of that might be useful and that you can easily find.
  • Kitchen paper, to clear up any possible mess.

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

Unfortunately, this cannot be realistically adapted for online teaching (unless you can use some sort of video game, maybe, to play a virtual version of the game).

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

The key skills needed for this game, which are also important for decision-making, include comparing options, communicating with each other effectively and openly, and being able to consider different points of view when picking a strategy.

So, you can ask your participants questions such as:

  • What were the key decision points in the process of building your structure?
  • How did you compare the different options you could have chosen from?
  • How did you compare risks against benefits in deciding which strategy to adopt?

5. Two Truths and a Lie

This is a classic game and it is often used during training sessions as an icebreaker. You can make it more relevant to decision-making by having a focused group discussion after the activity.

Rules and How to Play

The rules are simple. Each participant prepares three statements about themselves. Two of these statements need to be true. The third one will be false.

The first participant starts by uttering their statements to the rest of the group.

Then the group decides which two statements reflect the truth and which is false.

Each participant takes turns to present their statements until every participant has had a chance to do so, and the others have attempted to guess which statements are true and which are false.

If you want, you can make this game competitive by allocating a point for each correct guess.

The game of two truths and a lie is usually played individually, but you could turn it into a team game, by separating the participants into two groups. Each group will then work as a team to decide if a member from the opposite team has lied or told the truth.

Advise the participants to avoid intimate topics or things that they do not want to reveal about themselves. They can use topics such as hobbies, favourite foods or travel.

Number of Participants

The number of participants involved can range from 2 up to a large number.

Duration

The more people take part the longer it will take.

If you have a large number of participants (for example, more than 10), you can always divide the class into smaller groups that play at the same time. Make sure you move around the room to facilitate each group as needed, so participants do not feel left to their own devices.

Equipment Needed

No equipment is needed, and this is one of the great advantages of this game!

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

If you are teaching online, such as by using Zoom or MS Teams, you can run the exercise in the same way.

Utilise breakout rooms in case you decide to split the class into groups.

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

A key element of this activity is to decide which statements are true and which are false.

So, it may help if you follow up this activity with a whole class discussion and ask your participants how they made their decisions.

For instance, did the participants:

  • Rely on intuition? If so, what guided their intuition?
  • Know the person already and they judged if each sentence was true based on what they know (or think they know) of their personality?
  • Use their listening skills?
  • Observe the person’s non-verbal communication to determine if they were not telling the truth?
  • If they guessed wrongly, what do they think might have stopped them from choosing the right option?

A discussion like this may help you, as a trainer, introduce concepts involved in decision-making, such as listening skills, overcoming biases, observation skills and more.

Decision-making training materials

>> View the Decision-Making Training Course Materials

6. Perfect Square

This is a fun group activity that will get your participants moving, so it is great for kinesthetic-style learners.

Rules and How to Play

Provide your participants with a 10-metre-long rope and explain that they will be blindfolded and then will need to create a PERFECT square with the rope.

You can hand the rope to the participants unfolded or you can leave it in a tangled pile on the floor for them to pick up and unfold, depending on how much time you have.

You can give participants a few minutes at the start to strategize.

After all the participants have put the blindfold on, start the activity and give them 20 minutes to achieve the task.

Number of Participants

6 to 12. If you have more than 12 participants, consider splitting them into smaller teams.

Duration

30 minutes to 1 hour.

Equipment Needed

  • A location with a flat and unobstructed surface (without risk of tripping or falling over)
  • A 10-metre rope
  • One blindfold per participant

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

Unfortunately, this game cannot be played online.

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

In terms of decision-making, something you can highlight, in addition to being able to communicate, is how you create consensus when trying to decide on which course of action to take.

So, you can get your participants to reflect on how they made decisions together, and ask if one person took the role of a leader and how they communicated as a group.

7. Team Flag

This game focuses on collaboration and creativity, which are useful skills to have when making decisions.

Rules and How to Play

Split your participants into groups of 2 to 5 people per team.

Give each group pens, paper, coloured markers and anything you think they might use for drawing or designing a flag.

Ask each group to design a flag that represents them as a team, for example, something that reflects their values and tastes.

Give participants 20 minutes to design the flag.

After 20 minutes, ask each group to present, for 2 minutes, the flag they designed to the rest of the class explaining the creative process behind their design.

Number of Participants

4 to 30.

Duration

30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how many groups present their flag at the end.

Equipment Needed

Pen, paper and any other material you think might be useful for the participants to design a flag.

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

You can split the participants into groups using breakout rooms. Participants can design the flags together using a virtual whiteboard or other software that allows them to create designs collaboratively.

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

Your participants can reflect on various aspects of the team decision-making process, such as:

  • How they agreed on a design that represents all the members of the team
  • How they chose which values to use in the flag to represent all the team members
  • How using creativity can influence decision-making

8. Human Knot

This activity can be useful as an energizer after a lunch break and it covers different skills, such as communication, problem-solving and decision-making.

Rules and How to Play

Ask your participants to stand in a circle and randomly grab the hand of someone with their right hand. Then, ask them to do the same with their left hand, without letting go of their right hand.

They cannot grab the hand of those who stand right next to them on their right and left.

Then, ask participants to untangle the knot of hands and form a perfect circle. They cannot let go of each other hands as they readjust (although they can adjust their grip).

Give participants 15 minutes to achieve the perfect circle.

Number of Participants

6 to 12 in each group. If there are more than 12 players, separate them into more than one group.

You can create competition by stating that the group that manages to form the circle first wins.

Duration

20 minutes.

Equipment Needed

No equipment is needed.

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

Not suitable for virtual training.

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

This game is all about communication and agreeing on decisions together, i.e. on the best ways to move in order to untangle the knot.

9. Survival Scenario

Survival game

This is a classic game that can be adapted to teach a variety of skills, including creativity, strategy and decision-making.

Rules and How to Play

This game has many variations, from surviving in the Arctic to surviving in the desert, on a raft at sea or on a desert island.

Essentially, you tell your participants that they need to survive as a group in an extreme situation and give them a list of 10 to 20 items to choose from. Out of these items, they will need to pick 5 that they think would be the most useful for them to survive.

They will need to agree as a group on which 5 items from that list to choose.

The items on the list can be objects such as a rope, a fishing hook, a compass, a mirror and other objects that might be useful in a survival situation.

Number of Participants

Groups of 3 to 5 people each, and you can have as many groups as you can realistically facilitate.

Duration

30 minutes to 1 hour.

Equipment Needed

  • A whiteboard to write down the list of items or a list that you previously printed out.
  • Pen and paper for the participants

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

This activity can be easily adapted for online teaching by using breakout rooms and online whiteboards for collaboration.

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

This activity is all about deciding on which items to choose.

So, participants will need to reflect on:

  • The rationale behind their choices
  • What if any decision-making strategies they used
  • How they reached consensus as a group

This is one of the classic decision-making activities for employees that is often used and you might perhaps have been involved in this activity for staff training.

10. Frostbite

Frostbite game

This is a useful team-building activity, which also tests employee’s decision-making skills.

Rules and How to Play

This game is based on the following scenario.

The players need to imagine that they are on an expedition to the South Pole and they are in trouble.

The Antarctic wind is picking up and they need to build a sturdy enough shelter to withstand the elements.

However, frostbite on both hands has made their leader unable to use them, while the other team members are unable to see because of eye damage caused by the snow.

To start the game, divide the participants into groups of 3 to 4 people and then explain the scenario.

Give each team some materials to construct their shelter, such as playing cards or pieces of cardboard (the shelter will not be in real-life size, but it can be a miniature structure), a stapler, sellotape and anything else you can think of.

Ask each team to choose a leader, then tie the leaders’ hands behind their backs and blindfold the rest of the teams.

Now, the hand-tied leaders will have to guide their blindfolded teams to build the shelter.

Give teams 30 minutes to make their structure.

After 30 minutes, use a fan to blow air onto each structure (to imitate the Antarctic wind) and see which structure withstands the wind for 30 seconds.

Number of Participants

6 to 25

Duration

40 minutes (30 minutes for the activity and 10 minutes for the explanation and a discussion).

Equipment Needed

  • A fan
  • Materials to build the shelter (e.g., playing cards or cardboard, staplers and staples, sellotape, etc.)

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

Unfortunately, this activity cannot realistically be adapted.

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

This activity focuses on the communication aspect of decision-making, as well as on risk assessment, comparing options and dealing with pressure (i.e., due to time constraints).

11. Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunt

This is a team-building activity that can also be used for a workshop on decision-making as teams will have to make decisions to find items as effectively as possible during the hunt.

Rules and How to Play

Split your participants into small groups of 3 to 4 people.

Ask them to find a list of items (you will have prepared the list in advance). These items can be physical items, such as coins, green pens, a photo of a cat on an employee’s desk, a flipchart, etc. They can also be information, such as the name of the company’s HR team leader, the organization’s founding date and so on.

The setting of the game can be the office or a different location such as a park if the workshop is taking place away from the office.

The winning team is the one that finds the highest number of items.

Number of Participants

Any number, but you would need at least 6, for a dynamic enough activity.

Duration

It depends on your aims and on the size of the place in which the participants will look for the items. 30 minutes is generally a good time to aim for.

Equipment Needed

Pen and paper to write the list.

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

Participants, in this case, will play individually.

You can set a timer and ask your participants to search around their house, to find the items on the list.

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

During the game, it is likely that the participants will have a strategy.

Discuss with them how they decided which strategy to use.

For example, they might prioritise searching in certain rooms rather than others. So, you might ask them how they prioritized.

Or they may split their group and allocate each person to the search of a different item. In this case, you can ask how they decided who was going to search for what. Was it based on a majority vote? Was it random? Was it based on what skills each person had that made them more suitable to search for a specific item?

12. Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower

This is one of those decision-making activities for employees that you do need to gather a few materials together to run, but it is a fun game and worth the effort.

It’s an activity that can help a team of employees bond and practice making fast decisions in groups. It can also help them consider how to take account of risk.

Rules and How to Play

Split the employees into groups of 3 to 5 people per group.

Give each group one marshmallow, 20 uncooked spaghetti sticks, one meter of sellotape and one metre of string.

Give the groups 20 minutes to build a tower using the materials you gave them.

To win, a team will build the tallest structure in the given time.

Number of Participants

From 6 to any number, within reason.

Duration

30 minutes, with 20 minutes allocated for the participants to build the tower and 10 minutes for explanations and discussion.

Equipment Needed

For each group:

  • One marshmallow
  • 20 uncooked spaghetti sticks
  • 1 metre of sellotape
  • 1 metre of string

You can change the number and type of these items as you prefer, as long as you give the same number of each item per group.

How You Can Adapt It for Online Teaching

This activity cannot easily be adapted for online teaching.

How It Can Help Your Participants Reflect on Decision-Making Skills

The key here, in terms of decision-making skills, is how teams manage to make fast decisions together.

So, you can ask employees, after the challenge, how they managed this process. What challenges did they have in making fast decisions as a group? How did they communicate?

Also, the activity involves assessing and managing risks, which is an important element of decision-making.

For example, a team might decide to choose a safer option that creates a more stable structure, even if it takes a bit longer to build. Alternatively, they might go for a frailer structure that grows faster but with the risk of collapsing and thus setting them back.

Further Resources

In addition to these free decision-making activities, if you making activities for your employees, you might also be interested in:

Bonus Idea: Virtual Escape Room

The previous 12 ideas I’ve listed as decision-making activities for employees are all really inexpensive and relatively easy to organise, plan, and run.

If you have the budget though or available resources, organising a Virtual escape room can also be a great option.

A good piece of software for making a virtual escape room is Escape Room Master.

Decision-Making Teaching Materials

In addition to the decision-making activities for employees that I’ve listed in this post, you might also be interested in the Decision-Making training materials? If so, more information below:

Decision Making PowerPoint PPT slides and materials
>> Decision Making Training course materials (with PowerPoint slides)
Dr Valeria Lo Iacono
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