The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Ways to Engage Employees and Have More Fun
Many of us spend more of our waking hours at work than in the rest of our lives. It’s important to create the type of culture where employees feel connected and don’t mind spending such a huge chunk of their time at your company.
The invention of the smartphone virtually eliminated any remaining line between personal and professional life. It seems we’re always “on the clock.” We’re expected to be on call 24/7 so our colleagues and clients don’t feel ignored if their text or email doesn’t get answered within five minutes. With so much pressure to contend with, we need to figure out ways to let down our hair, relieve stress and have fun.
So why not see what you can do to create a more enjoyable work experience? The chances are good that when your employees see the effort you are making for them, they will respond with greater passion and productivity for you.
Here are 13 ways to engage employees and make your workplace more fun:
1. Take a half-day and explore your city
Become tourists and learn together what is great about the city where you work. Take a trolley, bus, or boat tour and see how many new facts you can gather about your company’s hometown. Take lots of pictures and create a collage or photo wall to remember the fun. Having a personal connection to the city where they work instills a sense of pride that your employees will share with friends, family, and clients.
2. Host a pot-luck meal
Choose a theme – favorite childhood food, cultural dishes, most awesome desserts. Get creative and let your team bond over whatever culinary delights tickle their taste buds. To keep it interesting, assign different groups or departments to be in charge each month. At the end of the year, have your employees vote and give out awards for meals that were “Most Creative,” “Most Delicious,” “Most Authentic” and anything else you want to recognize.
3. Crank up the tunes
Take song requests from team members and enjoy some invigorating music at the end of the work day. You may even select a particular genre to introduce different kinds of musical experiences in the office. If you have the budget for it, hire a DJ. If not, see which of your employees wants to let their “Inner Disc Jockey” come out to play.
Choose from the many different kinds of games that are designed to accomplish particular goals for the workplace. Automotive parts chain, Pep Boys, uses a game platform which engages employees AND reduces inventory losses. Employees quiz each other every day about how to prevent stock losses and increase workplace safety. Employees who give a correct answer win a chance to play on the company slot machine for cash awards. Incorrect answers are an opportunity for a learning experience to reinforce what they need to know to be successful.
5. Allow for distractions
Give your employees a break when they lose focus. Start a “distracted jar” and fill it with puzzles, jokes, riddles, coloring books, toys or whatever helps them get rid of their distractions and continue their work when they are better able to concentrate. You can set a maximum time limit for these distractions, so your employees don’t get too engrossed in their play time.
6. Share a meal
Get away from your desk for lunch. Eating with your coworkers or subordinates gives you the opportunity to get to know them socially and build stronger relationships inside and outside the office. Plus, we need to take our minds off our work, so we’re fresher when we get back at it. Collaborating and sharing ideas with colleagues may be just the inspiration you need to complete your task at hand.
7. Take a walk
Gather a group and enjoy some fresh air and the sunshine with a short walk at lunch. You’ll not only encourage conversation and connection, but your team will also have a higher energy level and burn some calories with some physical activity.
8. Google it
Search for “employee engagement activities” online to spark ideas to adapt or adopt for your team. Be warned, the number of results may be overwhelming. However, you may find the perfect idea from someone else’s imagination and experience. If you’re short on time, here are 25 employee engagement ideas in a downloadable pdf.
9. Throw a party
Whether you decide on a “Christmas in July,” “70’s, or 80’s” theme, or some other concept you dream up. Make it fun. Have employees throw their ideas in a hat and choose one with a blind pick. The person with the winning idea can be the one in charge of the planning. Let them run with it with just a few basic guidelines. Don’t take the joy out of the event by having a bunch of rules.
10. Have a “Spot the Logo” Photo Contest
Encourage your employees to show off your company colors and logo in a photo from their daily adventures. In how many corners of the globe will people see your logo? Keep it rated “G,” of course, and let your team pride shine through. Maybe it’s a unique company t-shirt designed by your employees for these picture-perfect occasions or simply a bumper sticker or another easily transportable item.
11. Take team photos and hang them around the office
Show your employees in action – working, collaborating, playing. Shoot (pun intended) for a variety of posed and random shots. Photographs help your employees get to know each other and more easily recognize the people who they don’t see on a regular basis.
12. Create a “Company Only” rap song or jingle
Include situations, snippets of conversations, or culture characteristics that only your staff would understand the meaning. Once you’ve written the lyrics, put it to a beat or music for your intra-company laughter and enjoyment. (Again, keep it rated “G”!)
13. Establish a “best place to work” committee
Let your employees figure out low-cost or no-cost ideas to make your company culture more conducive to collaboration and fun. Would switching around the office furniture make a difference? Who knows! What about creating a group “theme” for the year? Or putting together a newsletter that highlights the skills and strengths of your employees?
With 87% of your employees potentially “open to new opportunities” at all times, retention is critical. By making your company a more enjoyable place, your team members will look forward to coming to work. You’ll get more done by having fun!
Award-winning speaker and best-selling author, Lisa Ryan, is a national recognized gratitude expert who helps organizations keep their top talent and best clients from becoming someone else’s. She is the founder of Grategy®, author of eight books and co-stars in two films. Learn more at grategy.com
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