By: Deborah Mandel
My dog, Dani, on a field trip to the office
Have you ever worked for a company where day-in and day-out it was just the same boring routine? Do you go in at the same time, login to your computer, go through emails, and start to trudge through your everyday job responsibilities? You may be thinking, “Yeah, that’s my job. That’s how I get paid!”, but that’s also how you burnout!
You have to add in some fun to your work, something to make you look forward to going into the office (not that you aren’t looking forward to that board call or sending out those invoices). This doesn’t have to be a daily activity, just something to get out of the doldrums and make you excited about the company you work for.
Here are a few things we have done at Partners in Association Management to make sure that we have a happy and engaging work environment:
1) Jean’s Day Passes
A Jean’s Day Pass program is pretty easy for most companies to organize and has no overhead cost. Our company is a bit more casual than the typical suit-and-tie office and allows us to wear jeans on Fridays. In addition to Fridays, someone can purchase a Jean’s Day Pass at a small cost to the individual, and wear jeans on a different day of the week as well.
There are a few rules that we must all follow of course. As a functioning business we still represent the associations we manage and must remember that we reflect them. For instance, the jeans still have to be able to fit into the professional image of the company. No rips, no white-wash, no under garments showing, etc. Another requirement is that the day before you plan on wearing jeans, you must get it approved by your manager. This makes sure that you aren’t wearing jeans on the day a board member or a prospective client comes by for a visit.
All of the funds collected go back to the employees with our ‘Snack Pack’ program.
2) Snack Pack
The Snack Pack and Jean’s Day Passes go hand-in-hand in our office, as one funds the other. With the money collected, the Snack Pack organizes a short get-together once a month, usually involving some sort of snack… go figure! These have been as simple as bringing in bagels and doughnuts before a staff meeting, or to a more-involved pizza party. We even had a ‘Make Your Own Sundae’ bar once.
Anyone who wants to be involved on this committee can sign up and we divvy it up into teams of two for each month. The teams rotate so that you are only responsible every few months, and you also get to work with a different person each time. The current month’s team is in charge of selling the Jean’s Day Passes and organizing what the snack will be and when. The company snack break is usually never longer than 30 minutes, so it doesn’t take us away from work for too long, but a quick break in the middle of the day can kick start a day that might have gotten off to a slow start. Plus, that sundae bar was amazing!
We are fortunate that our office Snack Pack is funded through Jean’s Day Passes and each employee that purchases them. However, if your office is not able to wear jeans, maybe you can look into budgeting for a Snack Pack committee. Our snacks have ranged from $25.00 to $50.00 depending on what it was. See if you can budget $500.00 next year towards something like our Snack Pack. It isn’t much, but the quick snacks always go over well and are appreciated in our office.
3) Social Committee
We have four employees in our office that have volunteered to run the Social Committee and plan events during the year. The group changes annually as a way to make sure each person has an opportunity to join. The committee is given a budget, which is determined in advance by the company owners, and they plan 5-6 different events throughout the year. We have done all sorts of activities throughout the years and each time we get something new and exciting.
In the past, we have had a jambalaya cook-off to celebrate Mardi Gras, we’ve had a Rock Band party, we even rented out a theater to watch a movie in the middle of the day. Last year, for our Fall Olympics we broke the office up into teams to play Jeopardy and a few Minute to Win It games. This brought out the competitive spirit in some unexpected people and everyone had a blast.
Just last month, to celebrate Partners’ 16th anniversary, we had a company picnic where we all got out of work a little early, and everyone was allowed to invite their significant others and pets. I was a little bummed when I found out my boyfriend wouldn’t be able to make it, but I was ECSTATIC to be able to bring my dog and show her off to everyone. We were informed about the picnic about a month out, so I was able to talk to coworkers about it and allow the excitement to build up. On the day of the picnic, we all left at noon and went to meet at the park where there were hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, games and a kiddie pool set-up, and everyone brought their dogs. It was one of the best days I can remember! Everyone had a chance to socialize and decompress from a stressful week of work, and we all came in the next week revitalized.
So maybe I haven’t gotten a true ‘Bring your Dog to Work’ day yet, but these are all examples of easy (and not too expensive) ways of getting people together in a fun environment and really building the camaraderie in the office. If you are able to organize even one or two events like these a year, it might be surprising how much more employees look forward to going into work. I know, because the first thing I tell people when they ask about my job is how much I love working there!