In two weeks, we officially welcome summer (whether your local weather agrees or not). These next couple of months usually bring an increase in tans, relaxed faces and vacation stories to the office. And despite all the empty desks, there’s a renewed energy swirling around the halls. A lot of fun things take place in our personal lives over the Summer – why shouldn’t your employees experience the same in their professional lives? No matter your business or industry, I’m confident your workplace culture could stand even just a teeny bit of an upgrade in the Fun Department. I get that it’s a job and you’re paying people to be there and well, work… but what about infusing some fun experiences into your employees’ work lives, too? Give them joy beyond the paycheck.
Spoiler alert: By doing something above and beyond for them, you’re getting something in return. When employees encounter positive experiences at work, they feel appreciated and valued – and perhaps even compelled to share the story with family and friends. You’ve now enhanced your workplace culture with the bonus of good news about your company being spread via social media and word of mouth. Employee happiness and engagement are strongly dependent on work environment and organizational culture, as revealed in a 2015 TINYpulse study. In fact, never underestimate culture was identified as one of seven major trends impacting workplaces around the world. Their results cautioned: Don’t be shortsighted. An investment in culture is an investment in engagement.
In the spirit of amping up your organization’s culture in sync with all-good-things-about-summer, I’m sharing three ways to infuse some fun with the sun at work. These ideas can be applied company-wide or, if you have a very large organization, can be broken down to the individual department or team level. Overall, I want these to inspire (and remind) you to spread some fun around the office every now and again… you’d be surprised what a little added joy can do for your company’s culture.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for something out of the ordinary 9-5 grind. There’s a reason almost every momentous occasion centers around food in some way: People love them some food. Surprise your employees with a build-your-own sundae bar. Supply different brands and flavors of ice cream and various topping options and let them self-serve to their hearts’ content. For larger crowds, bring in an ice cream vendor to serve employees their choice of flavors. Or, bring a favorite local food truck outside of your office during lunchtime and provide employees with a voucher to get lunch on the company. No budget for such deliciousness? Go the potluck route with a cookie exchange or a chili cook-off for individuals or teams. Food + people = a welcome break in the day-to-day monotony.
Express yourself. Give your employees opportunities to share and be shared with. Create a common area where employees can be people with each other vs. just co-workers. Clear off and designate a wall somewhere in the office where people frequent – kitchen, lounge, printer/copier room (no corporate flyers or policy reminders allowed here). Apply chalkboard paint, provide chalk and pose a timely, relevant question each month for employees to answer. Examples: What’s your favorite local summer activity? Who’s going to win the Super Bowl? What’s your favorite movie? What are your new year’s resolutions? Alternatively, and perfectly timed with summer, is a vacation photo wall where everyone can print out and post their favorite pic. Another great idea for your common area is a VIP wall where employees can post pics of their pets, kids or nieces and nephews.
Gather outside of the office walls. Spending at least 2,080 hours a year in the office is probably enough for anybody. Invite your employees to enjoy an activity outside the building (Bonus: Extend the invite to family members, too). Now, I’m not talking about team-building events here. This is for fun purposes only and should not feel tied back to work. Attend a sporting event or visit a local brewery together. For larger companies, consider renting out a local amusement park (e.g., Kings Dominion, Six Flags) for the day. When looking for ways to enhance your workplace culture, literally think outside the corporate box.
Let this sunny time of year jumpstart your commitment to doing nice things for your people. But please, let’s not limit the fun and surprises to only the summer months. Keep it going year round to increase employees’ happiness and enhance your workplace culture.
What does your office have planned?