Most years our firm sponsors an annual weekend retreat, a holiday party, and several other social activities for the Henderson Franklin team. These events are typically loosely structured and serve to improve upon cohesion and camaraderie among a group whose individuals often operate independently. Many employers do the same, engineering team-building activities which run the gamut from planning elaborate out-of-state trips to sponsoring company sports teams or holding company picnics. All are good gestures, and each tends to serve the intended purpose of boosting morale.
What you must consider, however, is the potential for injury at these activities, and whether the employer may be liable for such an injury. Playing sports or cutting loose on a retreat can certainly be great for morale, but it can also provide ample opportunity for injury. This is particularly true when alcohol consumption is involved, as is often the case at these social activities.