4 Culture Activities to Motivate your Workplace
You've inevitably been reminded about spring's recent start by every social media account you follow, any local news you watch or paper you read, or relative you've talked to since March 21st. People love reminding other people that seasons change. We're even doing it right now, under the thin veneer of talking about other people reminding you that it's spring.
What we like about spring, besides the general return of outward displays of life to the planet, is how many more opportunities it presents for building community spirit in the workplace. Warmer weather and budding flora means people are more enthusiastic about going outside, putting a plethora of community building activities back on the table.
Because we're such big fans of building a more pleasant corporate culture, we're going to hit you with four ideas to bring a little life back into your company this spring. Remember, the happier your employees are to work for you, the more likely it is they'll stay. Plus, the whole time they stay, the better their work is. Having a miserable work environment just doesn't make financial sense.
A barbecue is simple, easy, and one of the quickest ways to bring employees together in a familiar environment. Only the most avoidant of us haven't been to a barbecue, and while every single one isn't a rousing success, you at least get a few hot dogs or burgers out of it. They even make relatively convincing vegetarian or vegan patties now, so even the people in self-imposed exile can be included in the fun.
Some offices come with green spaces that are ready made for this kind of gathering, so they don't need special arrangements or facilities. Just head downstairs and into the courtyard and fire up the grill.
For offices that don't have green spaces nearby, things are slightly more complicated, but not prohibitively so, so don't consider this an excuse to not treat employees to a good time and some outdoor fun. Find a local park, get the necessary permits, and arrange transportation for everyone who wants to go. It's a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to change the context for employee interactions. You might even be able to work some games in if the park has a baseball or soccer field.
For rainy days when no one wants to go outside, offer an indoor option. Everyone has a George Foreman gathering dust in their closet, so put a few of those to work. Even a Foremanized hot-dog is worth celebrating. And since you can't play outdoor games, provide something inside. Nothing so intense as Risk or Monopoly, but quick, less intense board games are a great way to bring people together. Trouble, Sorry, Connect 4, and simple card games are always fun.
Speaking of Sports...
Organize a corporate team. We can't tell you how many of our peers bemoan the loss or absence of corporate softball, ultimate frisbee, soccer, flag football, or any number of other teams, and how many of them would sign up for a corporate team in a heartbeat. A team with your co-workers is another great way to change how you see the people you work with. Plus "team" is right there in the name. Teamwork abilities are going to go through the roof.
Learning how people work in a variety of situations, not least of which would be a fairly competitive sporting event, will show people the best ways to work with each other in the office and who's best suited to different challenges. If Chuck is a stickler for rules on the field, put him in charge of handling the nitty gritty of detail-oriented projects. If Gertrude is constantly bragging about the team's accomplishments, see if she might have a future in sales or marketing. Employees and bosses will understand each other a lot better with a little variation in setting.
Not only do you get to hang out with people outside of work and learn more about everyone, but you also break up the monotony of the five-day workweek. No matter how much you like your job, there are days where you just don't feel like going into the office. Having something like a recreational league helps keep people excited to come in. They get to see their friends, not just their coworkers.
Let's pile on one more benefit while we're at it: conversations in a corporate setting get stale faster than sliced bread on an open countertop and more boring than that analogy we just used. A rec league injects some new topics into the mix, whether that's through people reliving the glory of the last game, strategizing for an upcoming one, or talking about new equipment they bought. It's an inoffensive, safe topic that won't bore everyone to death like temperatures, clouds, or other weather phenomena (oh hey, it’s Spring!). We can only agree that rain is wet so many times before we start wishing someone would club us with something heavy and blunt.
Corporate Happy Hour
There's a case to be made for heavy indulgence with coworkers during off hours. The Japanese do it and they're doing pretty well for themselves. That said, we're not going to make that case. We're going to go for moderation.
We don't think sticking to a responsible buzz is all that much to ask. It's entirely within the realm of possibility that functioning adults can behave themselves at a happy hour, even if they're not paying. Especially if those functioning adults keep career benefits in mind while they do it.
Namely, responsible drinking at a corporate cocktail hour loosens people up. They're more comfortable, more willing to be friendly and honest with each other, and freer with their speech. The majority of the time, these are good things. People make new or unlikely connections and understand each other better. They humanize their coworkers, allowing friendly civility to take over in the workplace, instead of other offices' standard pent up passive aggression.
There's also the simple reason that your employees will love you for it. You're providing them with free food and drink, two things proven to be the most effective ways of building loyalty and a healthy, laidback company atmosphere.
Outdoor Lunch Hour
Usable, practical green space is an important factor in the average person's mental health. People with regular access to and who consistently use outdoor areas have a better overall attitude, lower stress levels, and higher levels of creativity and productivity. If you have green space around your office and restrict your employees from using it, you're sabotaging their ability to perform, and possibly excel, in their industry.
Let your employees walk down to the park on the corner and have lunch. They just spent at least three months cooped up in the office, eating lunch at their desks or crammed into the break room. It's boring, not to mention unhealthy, to spend every single lunch hour waiting in line to warm up leftovers in the only microwave in the office. Letting employees leave the office and take lunch outside breaks up the monotony of the day and allows them to enjoy the most pleasant weather the world will experience all year. In a few short months, everyone's going to be sweating through their button-downs and blouses and no one will want to leave the comfort of the air conditioning.
Senseless restrictions of any kind are enough to send employees at every level on a job hunt. Your mailroom clerk is just as likely to be out looking for a new gig as your executive vice president if neither of them is allowed to leave their workstation to eat a turkey sandwich. The more you restrict your employees from common sense breaks and perks, the more you kill your ability to compete.
Giving your people a break can give you the advantage. Think outside the box this spring and while you’re at it, let everyone else do the same.