Enough fresh ideas to entertain staff.
— In-house Events Coordinator
Enough fresh ideas to entertain staff.
“Yes!” I thought when I found this brave little challenge in the sea of productivity and negativity complaints. Here’s a person, I thought, who is not out to brainwash and slave-drive her coworkers. But to refresh and entertain!
I was excited because she and I have the same passion. I am not looking to bore people to death with stale ideas either. I am here to make sure you have a good time.
Where do ideas come from? If every time I had to write a blog post, I went searching for topics on the Internet, I would get bored. Luckily, I don’t have to do that. Because people like her kindly answer the questions I pose on our site. So, as of today, I have 10,000+ ideas ready to go.
This makes me wonder if our In-house Events Coordinator has ever asked her people for ideas. I can’t imagine they would turn her down if she did. They could, however, give her ideas that don’t match her own. Starting with the word “fresh.”
Who says we must always chase after new thrills? Maybe your employees are nostalgic about something from the past. Or perhaps they look forward to the same old Christmas party and the same old company picnic year after year. You never know until you ask.
A favorite tradition at one of my past jobs was the monthly lunch at a local Chinese buffet. Trust me, there was nothing fresh about that. But, the bonding we’ve felt over these meals was magical. Had management wanted to score big points with us, they wouldn’t have had to invent anything new. All they had to do was to occasionally sponsor our all-you-can-eat lunches.
Entertainment always sounds good. But are you sure it’s a priority at the moment? Maybe, before people can come out of their shells, they need to air their grievances, heal old wounds, or allay their fears.
If you knew what was on people’s minds, you could create an event that spoke to their needs. How fresh is that! Maybe you could have an “ask-a-burning-question” event to fact-check the rumors. Or a “bury the hatchet” event to reconcile an office feud.
My favorite events are the ones that are pure joy and celebration and a complete break from the office routine. Many problems will solve themselves if you get people to relax. Unfortunately, we are not spontaneous beings, and we need a reason to celebrate. At least, a Friday.
Is it hard to come up with reasons to celebrate? I can think of a dozen off the top of my head:
You might want to stock up on beer and ice cream, just so people know that the company is always looking for a reason to celebrate. This is what our friends at Hubspot do, and I hear it works great.
If your employees are scattered around the world, like Axero’s, any time you get together is a party. So, find a reason to do that. We’ve gone to conferences, like Hubspot’s Inbound events in Boston. We like Inbound because the organizers bend over backward to unearth fresh ideas. But it would be worth going just to see each other.
I am all for in-house events, too. That said, I want to zoom out to the bigger picture. It’s become fashionable to talk about employee engagement as if it were adult day care. The more activities and surprises, the better.
HR departments are re-branding themselves as “people care specialists” and are looking for fun new ways to prove that they care. But HR didn’t start the trend. Look at all the day camps, retreats, theme parks, and coloring books for grown-ups.
We hate being adults, don’t we?
It didn’t turn out the way we thought it would. We are stressed and burnt out. And we want to do something easy and fun for a change. Something we can’t fail at. And if we failed, we wouldn’t sweat it. Nobody would. What’s wrong with that?
Nothing. Except it’s not employee engagement. Employee engagement is when people feel this way about work. When they are excited and not afraid. Do you know what your employees want? Are you sure it’s entertainment?
So, if an event helps bring the “game zone” into the workplace, then it’s the right event. However, if it’s only a brief escape from boredom and fear, then maybe we can do a little better than entertain in a “fresh” way?
Maybe we have to.
If you like entertainment, you might like my book, because it’s a riot.
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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